Heated Debate on EU and Icesave in Iceland’s Parliament Skip to content

Heated Debate on EU and Icesave in Iceland’s Parliament

Long meetings are currently being held in the foreign affairs committee of Iceland’s parliament, Althingi, on two controversial matters: Iceland’s obligations towards Icesave depositors and a potential membership application to the European Union.

Inside Althingi. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

The EU application was discussed until late in the evening last night. Chairman of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson told Morgunbladid that he is dissatisfied with how much time is dedicated to the EU when the Icesave debate remains unsolved.

“I find it very strange how this matter [potential EU membership application] is being handled, that before solving the dispute with the EU member states over the Icesave agreement people are suggesting that Iceland should submit an application for EU membership,” Benediktsson said.

According to Benediktsson, the parties’ different attitudes towards the EU were discussed at last night’s meeting and it remains unclear what conclusion the foreign affairs committee will reach on the matter.

“We reiterated our former position and the resolution of the Independence Party’s national congress that it is right to have a referendum on whether membership discussions should be launched and that the nation must have final say,” Benediktsson said.

However, in Benediktsson’s view it is a waste of time to discuss EU membership in such detail during the current circumstances. “I think it is absolutely evident that a membership application won’t be taken seriously and that it is simply unrealistic to submit an application while the Icesave matter is unresolved. But that seems to be the priority given by the parliament.”

Valgerdur Bjarnadóttir, MP for the Social Democrats and the foreign affairs committee’s vice-chair, said that small steps are taken at each meeting and that the committee’s members are naturally keen to discuss EU membership thoroughly.

A continued discussion on the EU matter within the committee has been called for tomorrow and the goal is to reopen discussions on the EU in parliament shortly. “We meet day after day to work on this matter, which must be a clue as to where we’re headed.”

The Icesave agreement between Icelandic, Dutch and British authorities on loans provided to the Icelandic state to compensate Icesave account holders in the UK and the Netherlands was also thoroughly discussed yesterday.

Meetings on the matter took place between the Icelandic Icesave negotiation committee and the appropriations and foreign affairs committees, as well as with the resolution committee and liquidation committee of Landsbanki.

Icesave was Landsbanki’s online savings unit in the UK and the Netherlands.

According to Morgunbladid’s sources, no conclusion was reached at these meetings although the matter was discussed from all sides.

Continued meetings on Icesave will be held today and other parties will be consulted, including the Indefence group, which has harshly criticized the agreement.

Click here to read more about Icesave and here to read more about Iceland and the EU.

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