Off the Hook

Stöðvarfjörður East Iceland

Stöðvarfjörður, East Iceland is home to 181 people. In 2011, its old fish-processing plant, once the beating heart of the town, had fallen into disuse and was set to be demolished. That’s when a team of creatives with big ideas stepped in, acquiring the building at an auction for the give-away price of ISK 101,000 ($805/€731).
It’s the largest building in town. But it wasn’t even windproof. No electricity, no heating. Heaps of industrial waste were strewn all over its 2,800 sq m (30,100 sq ft) surface area, after years of labour and tonnes of fish. An immense task lay ahead of the team. Nowadays, there’s little fish to be found in the Fish Factory, but instead it has breathed a different kind of life into Stöðvarfjörður.

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Iceland and UK Reach Withdrawal Agreement

Iceland and the UK have come to a reciprocal agreement which “protects the rights of our respective citizens in each other’s countries, based on the similar Withdrawal Agreement made with the EU.” So confirmed an announcement made by Michael Nevin, the British ambassador to Iceland, on the UK in Iceland Facebook page on Thursday.

The agreement, which also extends to citizens of Norway and Liechtenstein, ensures that British citizens currently living in Iceland – 1,591 people as of January 1, 2018 – can “go on living here” after the UK leaves the EU. It also guarantees that the over 15,000 nationals from Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein who live in the UK will not be deported from their homes after Brexit.

“It means that UK and Icelandic citizens living in each other’s countries at the end of the implementation period in December 2020 will be able to continue on with their lives,” affirmed Nevin. Importantly, “[t]he agreement includes continuity arrangements on residency, healthcare, pensions and education, social security coordination and mutual recognition of defined professional qualifications. It will enable families who have built their lives together in the UK or Iceland to stay together.”

Nevin also emphasizes that “both the UK and Iceland governments have made commitments to each other’s citizens in the event of “no deal”. Citizens resident in our respective countries at the time of the UK’s departure from the EU will be able to continue living, working and studying here and in the UK as before.”

Although specific instructions regarding “administrative arrangements” for British citizens living in Iceland have yet to be finalised, the agreement undoubtedly will come as a relief to citizens on both sides who have been living in a state of limbo for some time.

“I hope that brings some certainty for your own future during a time of change,” writes Nevin. “The Iceland government is as keen as we are to not only ensure that you go on living here if you want to, but also to work as partners in trying to resolve any issues you still might have.”

Read the official statements on the Icelandic governmental website and on the UK governmental website.