Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, confirmed that his government had withdrawn its application for memnbership, which was submitted six years ago, in an official statement released earlier today.
“The government does not intend to resume preparing for EU membership”, the statement claimed.
Confirmation of Iceland’s withdrawal comes after months of talks between Prime Minister Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson and his current government.
In 2013 Gunnlaugsson’s centre-right Progress Party made election promises to withdraw from EU membership procedures in a climate of growing Euroscepticism in Iceland. Negotiations with the EU went into standstill after Gunnlaugsson became Prime Minister in May 2013.
Iceland, a standing member of NATO, The Shengen Area and the European Economic Area, has seen growing worry over European integration in recent years. Many Icelanders are concerned that European restrictions will negatively impact on their healthy economy.
Among many issues raised is the strong concern that the Icelandic fishing industry, one of the country’s largest industries, will suffer under European fishing quotas which would have to be enforced if the country joined as a full member of the EU.
Iceland, which has a population of just 325,000, is one of the world’s most productive economies – and is regularly ranked high in terms of financial stability and growth.