Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Iceland's application for membership of the European Union

Delivered in Plenary - 7th July 2010

Madam President

The ECR Group supports enlargement of the Union and in principle of course we support the accession of Iceland – if that is what the people of Iceland themselves want.

There are several reasons why Iceland’s membership would be good for the EU. First, the more the EU increases its size, hopefully the looser and more flexible the Union will become.

Second, Iceland’s dependence on its fishing industry will most likely result in a favourable deal which itself may prompt long overdue reform of the common fisheries policy and pave the way for Norway’s eventual accession.

Third, Iceland has already adopted large chunks of the acquis through membership of the European Economic Area and the Schengen zone, so absorption of Iceland would not exacerbate the so-called ‘enlargement fatigue’ that has been blamed for the public’s disenchantment with the European Union.

No one expects wealthy Icelanders to leave their underpopulated country en masse to seek work elsewhere in the European Union, as might be the case, for example, if Turkey were to join in the future.

Of course, the decision rests with the people of Iceland in a referendum. In the last referendum held in Iceland, voters decided against refunding British savers billions of pounds following the collapse of the Icesave bank.

I remain confident that Iceland will recognise and honour its EEA legal obligations in this regard to other most affected Member States such as my own country – the United Kingdom – and the Netherlands.