Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The European Union (EU) began formal accession talks with Iceland this week, at a time when the EU's popularity in Iceland has been dropping. Many of Iceland's laws are already EU-compliant, but it will have to revise its fishing policies if it joins the bloc. Much of the recent unhappiness with the EU comes from a dispute arising out of the recent banking crisis in which the Icelandic bank Icesave failed. The UK and the Netherlands bailed out the bank's depositors located in their countries at a cost of 3.8 billion euro and those governments now wish to be repaid. Although the EU describes the controversy as a bilateral matter, many Icelanders believe the EU has sided with the UK and the Netherlands. Recent opinion polls show that as many as 60% of Icelanders oppose joining the EU, a real problem for the Icelandic government as it negotiates with Brussels and tries to sell any compromises reached to its citizenry.