Yesterday Iceland’s Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde met President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, who confirmed that Iceland could not adopt the euro without joining the EU, at least not without running into political troubles.
“And what are the political troubles in that context? Naturally, these troubles pertain to the EEA agreement and the Schengen cooperation and other areas where they [the EU] could create problems for us,” Haarde said during a press conference after the meeting, Morgunbladid reports.
“Our understanding, not only in regards to Iceland, but to all such cases, is that joining the euro zone for the long term is only possible within the larger frame of a European Union membership,” Barroso said, emphasizing that he did not want to influence Iceland’s decision on whether or not to apply for EU membership.
“But the European Commission is prepared to increase its discussions on economic issues with Iceland,” Barroso said, adding that he would like to discuss issues concerning the fishing industry when the EU reviews its policy in that matter after a few years. “We could learn some things on fisheries from Icelanders.”
Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said in an interview with Morgunbladid that the EU question is becoming clear; Iceland can only access the euro zone through an EU membership.
In Gísladóttir’s opinion, the Icelandic government should make sure Iceland fulfills all required prerequisites for being granted access to the monitory union if and when they decide to apply for EU membership.
“Our problem today is that we do not fulfill the required prerequisites [for joining the euro zone]. Inflation is too high, interest rates are too high and the trade deficit is too great. We have to fix these things at home and then aim for a membership in the long run,” Gísladóttir said.