Magnús Thór Hafsteinsson, deputy chairman of Iceland’s Liberal Party, says it was a serious mistake for Icelandic authorities to open Iceland up to the free passage of labor from EU states in Eastern Europe earlier this year. This is reported in all the main media.
In Fréttabladid, Hafsteinsson is quoted as saying, “The Liberal Party expressed the view that Icelandic society was not prepared to receive the vast number of foreigners that would come to Iceland when the green light was given to the free passage of labor on 1 May this year. It has indeed transpired that various problems have followed that we are not able to address … It would have been better to utilize the manpower that we already have in this country. There are people who have trouble finding work in Iceland, for example people over the age of 50 and disabled persons.”
Einar Skúlason, Managing Director of Iceland’s Intercultural House, accuses Hafsteinsson of propagating fear. “Icelandic society is dependent on foreign workers – this is a fact that I feel should be given more weight in this entire discussion. Magnús Thór’s claims that the rapid increase of foreigners in Iceland is creating substantial problems is irresponsible fear propaganda.”
Meanwhile, Morgunbladid quotes Hafsteinsson as saying that he has been inundated with declarations of support since his comments were made public.