Tuesday 12 December 2017

Iceland to warm to EU after Icesave is resolved -- Minister

Iceland’s citizens will rally behind plans to join the European Union once a dispute over demands by European depositors for €4bn in compensation from a bank collapse is resolved, Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson said.

Speaking as Iceland started EU membership talks, Skarphedinsson blamed the growing anti-EU mood in Iceland on calls by Britain and the Netherlands for the payment to cover losses suffered by their citizens when Landsbanki Islands hf failed in 2008.

Iceland’s people “have always learned from their own history,” Skarphedinsson told reporters in Brussels today.

“Iceland has always blossomed when our contacts and exchanges with Europe have been at the most intense.”

EU entry became less popular among Icelanders after the economic crisis wrecked the island’s banking system and left it dependent on as much as €7.7bn in international loans, Skarphedinsson said.

While the government favours EU membership, public opposition rose to 60pc in June from 54pc in November, according to a Capacent Gallup poll published July 1 by Iceland’s RUV state broadcaster.

Skarphedinsson declined to predict when the dispute over the losses by Icesave account-holders will be settled.

He and EU officials also set no target date for Iceland to become a member of the bloc.


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