Following the announcement yesterday by Iceland's Foreign Minister Gunnar B. Sveinsson of the decision of the Icelandic Government to withdraw their application to join the EU, the President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party Sir Graham Watson said: "The Icelandic people are free to decide if they want to join the EU or not but the decision to submit the application to the EU was made in accordance with the mandate awarded to the government by the Icelandic Parliament Althingi in 2009. Hence it should be up to the Parliament - or the Icelandic people via a referendum as promised in 2013 - that should determine whether the process should continue or the application be withdrawn".
Guðmundur Steingrímsson the leader of ALDE Party Member in Iceland Björt framtíð (Bright Future), said: "For us, Iceland has not withdrawn its application to become a EU Member State. A recent letter from the government of Iceland doesn't change anything in that regard. It is clear that the current government does not want Iceland to join the EU, therefore the negotiations have been paused. We, within Björt framtíð, have said that we can live with, and understand, that temporary situation. But to withdraw the application altogether, and ruin the process, is a totally different issue. The government has no right to do that.“
NOTE TO EDITORS
In a joint letter to the President of the European Parliament, the Representative of the Latvian Presidency and the European Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations, all Icelandic opposition parties state:
"The Government of 2009-2013 lodged an application to join the EU on the basis of a mandate given by the Althingi in a resolution of 16 July 2009, with the support of MPs from all political parties. The accession process was slowed down two months before the elections in April 2013. The current Government then “paused” the accession process when it took office in May 2013 and stated that the process would not continue unless the people would decide so in a referendum. No such referendum has been held. The Government presented a proposal for a resolution mandating the withdrawal of the application to the Althingi in February 2014. In spite of its strong parliamentary majority, the Government could not get the proposal passed in the face of widespread public opposition and calls by more than 20% of the population for a referendum to be held. The proposal was debated in first reading, but not passed to second reading by the Foreign Affairs Committee."