An article was published in the Financial Times yesterday claiming that Eurocrats in Brussels were desperate for a plan B in case France rejects the proposed EU constitution in the referendum on May 29. One suggestion was to smuggle some of the most important parts of the constitution into an accession treaty next time the Union enlarges since such treaties become legally binding for all the memberstates once accepted. The author of the article, using the title 'Fishy plan for French No', then goes on saying that the problem is that the next scheduled steps towards enlargement will not happen for the next few years since the countries in question are Eastern European countries which still have a long way to go to meet the conditions of the EU for accession. This would, however, not be a problem in the case of a Western European country like Iceland.
The author then wonders if Iceland could step in and save the constitution issue and join the EU given that the Union would meet our demands concerning the fisheries. He then adds that Reykjavík has "started thinking seriously about membership and a delegation is expected to meet EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn in a few weeks." The author then concludes that Icelandic authorities could be willing to join the EU if the Union would make them an offer they couldn't refuse.
Well, this may all make sense for the author of this article and perhaps some likeminded people but in Iceland this is considered as nonesense. First og all if the EU was to meet our demands concerning the fisheries it would have to accept that we held full authority over our fishing grounds and that the Common Fisheries Policy would not apply there. Or change the CFP so that all the memberstates would hold full authority over their waters. It must be considered highly unlikely that the EU would be willing to accept this.
Secondly, Icelandic auhorities are not considering EU membership more now than any time before. The policy of the present government, due to govern until 2007, is that EU membership is out of the question. Like Davíð Oddsson, the Icelandic Foreign Minister, said recently there has not been any change in policy in Iceland towards the EU. Oddsson also said on that occasion that there was simply no reason for Iceland to join the EU.
Thirdly, the Icelandic delegation mentioned in the Financial Times' article is not going to Brussels to prepare accession talks with the EU as one could think after reading it. Far from it. The object of this delegation is only to shed light on certain questions regarding Iceland's relations with the EU and obtain information on that issue. The trip to Brussels is only a part of that acquirement of information and the idea is to meet as many top officials of the EU as possible, Mr. Rehn only being one of them.
Björn Bjarnason, chairman of the delegation and Minister of Justice, said to the Icelandic press in the wake of the article in the Financial Times that its content had nothing to do with the purpose of the delegation's trip to Brussels. The delegation is supposed to be working for the next couple of years and in addition it has a majority of people opposed to EU membership.
And at last, although the matters of the fisheries are a big reason for Iceland to stay outside the EU it is not the only reason. We also don't want to adopt the euro for instance plus many other issues. So in short the article in the Financial Times is nothing more than a wishful thinking - unless it is simply ment as a sarcastic joke ;)