Progress Report on Iceland
Delivered in Plenary - 6th April 2011
The ECR Group fully supports Icelandic accession to the European Union, although the decision is firmly a matter for Icelanders alone in a referendum.
Iceland is a small, stable and wealthy democracy and a founder member of NATO and the Council of Europe. Its economy is heavily dependent on fishing, however, having had a disastrous venture into financial services, and Iceland is therefore likely to demand a significant concession to protect its fishing industries if it ever joins the EU. This would then, hopefully, provide the UK and other Member States with an ideal opportunity to push for broader and further reform of the controversial Common Fisheries Policy.
With regard to whaling, I am make no apologies for it. I do not like bullfighting or cockfighting either but these are, believe it or not, allowed in some parts of the EU on the grounds of national culture, so if Iceland joins the EU it must be allowed – in my personal view – to safeguard its whaling industry if it insists on so doing.
Finally, Iceland must commit to repaying monies owed to the UK and the Netherlands after the collapse of Icesave. A negative result in the forthcoming referendum in Iceland on this issue could prove a serious handicap with regard to support from the UK Government.