Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/iceland : Commission: Referendum Result No Bar to Eu Talks

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/iceland : Commission: Referendum Result No Bar to Eu Talks

Article excerpt

The European Commission insisted, on 8 March, that the negative result of the referendum on the Icesave repayment plan should not negatively affect Iceland's EU integration process. "As far as the Commission is concerned the result of the referendum is quite a distinct process from the membership [bid] and we maintain our recommendation towards the member states to open the accession negotiations with Iceland," said a spokesperson for Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.

On 6 March, over 93% of Icelanders voted against the Icelandic government's controversial plan to repay 3.8 billion to the Netherlands and the UK in debts from the collapse of the country's Icesave bank. The plan, narrowly approved by the Icelandic parliament on 31 December 2009, defines the terms of the payout to London and The Hague for having compensated more than 320,000 British and Dutch savers who lost money in the collapse of the Icelandic bank in 2008. The referendum on the compensation deal, which critics said would punish taxpayers for the mistakes of bankers and regulators, was called following the refusal by President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson to sign it into law in early January 2010. Only 1.8% voted in favour.

On the eve of the Icesave referendum, the European Commission sent a positive recommendation to the member states on the opening of EU accession talks with Iceland, hoping the process will kick off in the second half of 2010. The move followed signals coming from the UK and the Netherlands that the failure to reach a deal on the Icesave compensation scheme could jeopardise Iceland's EU bid. …

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