First published online Tuesday, 13 January 2015
Written by Alex Newman
With the European Union becoming increasingly unpopular across the continent amid a rapid plunge in what little public support ever existed for the unaccountable super-state seeking to become an all-powerful federal regime, authorities in Iceland announced last week that they planned to back out of membership talks and preserve what remains of their tiny island nation’s sovereignty. EU critics, who have been soaring in the polls, celebrated the news.
In a recent interview with a national radio broadcaster, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, elected in 2013 on what has been widely described as a “centrist” platform, declared that all previous work on joining the controversial EU was “obsolete” and “not valid anymore.” He also suggested that Parliament would vote soon on a measure to officially withdraw Iceland’s membership application.
“Participating in EU talks isn’t really valid anymore, both due to changes in the European Union, and because it’s not in line with the policies of the ruling government to accept everything that the last government was willing to accept,” Sigmundur Davíð was quoted as saying during the radio interview by the Reykjavík Grapevine, sparking headlines worldwide.
“Because of that, we’re back at square one,” continued the Icelandic prime minister, whose Progress Party governs the estimated 325,000 Icelanders in an alliance with the conservative-leaning Independence Party. “All the work on it that had been carried out before is in fact obsolete.”
Icelandic Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson reportedly applauded the prime minister’s announcement and the decision to back out. According to media reports, Sveinsson also said he wanted the EU membership issue to be closed as soon as possible — and that Iceland should not join.
Critics of the EU reacted with glee to the news, while proponents of smashing national sovereignty and crushing self-government were left fuming. UK Independence Party (UKIP) chief Nigel Farage, whose anti-EU party dominated elections to the EU’s pseudo-Parliament last year on a platform of secession for Britain from the bloc, was among those who celebrated the Icelandic leader’s comments.
“This move by Icelandic authorities and the increasing Mediterranean opposition to the EU shows that the idea of the inevitability of EU integration has been smashed,” declared Farage, who also co-chairs an anti-EU political alliance in what passes as the Brussels-based super-state’s legislature. “More and more people throughout Europe either no longer wish to join the EU or, as in Greece, to leave the euro currency altogether.” Elections and surveys across the bloc show the EU is now deeply unpopular.
Blasting the super-state’s embattled single currency known as the euro, Farage also said the rapid rebound in Iceland’s economy following the global economic crisis could be attributed to the fact that, unlike many formerly sovereign European nations, it still retains its own currency. “Greece and other Mediterranean countries are caught inside the straitjacket of an unsuitable euro currency and unsympathetic political union dominated by Germany,” he continued, saying other nations should be encouraged by Iceland’s example and that Greece ought to ditch the euro to restore prosperity.
The previous Icelandic government, run by a coalition of leftist Social Democrats and radical Left-Greens, formally applied for EU membership in 2009 amid the economic crisis that hit Iceland especially hard. By early 2010, the European Commission, a hybrid legislative-executive branch run by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, responded favorably. Accession negotiations began shortly after that.
When the new prime minister and his coalition were elected in 2013, though, they promptly froze the discussions indefinitely. Especially problematic for Iceland, with an economy heavily reliant on its fishing industry, were EU-imposed “quotas” on how many fish can be caught.
Last year, the newly elected “center-right” government even floated a measure to abandon EU negotiations and formally withdraw its application to surrender what remains of national sovereignty and self-government. The effort was met with AstroTurf protests demanding a “referendum” on joining the EU.
According to polls taken at that time, most Icelanders supported voting on the issue. However, the same surveys revealed that almost half of the nation’s voters would vote against the EU, while just over a third supported joining. The rest were undecided.
Ironically, pro-EU apparatchiks — after brazenly bulldozing over the wishes of voters in nation after nation that voted against expanding and empowering the controversial continental regime — suddenly displayed a newfound passion for referendums. In interviews with the Sputnik news agency, the Kremlin’s latest foray into the media world, various Icelandic EU supporters blasted the ruling alliance’s efforts to preserve national sovereignty.
Social Democratic lawmaker Össur Skarphéðinsson, for instance, Iceland’s foreign minister when the application to join the EU was fist submitted, lambasted the prime minister for not concluding negotiations with Brussels and then asking voters whether to join the super-state. “I think it is wise for Iceland to become a member of the large currency union,” Össur added, brushing aside concerns about the ongoing troubles facing the controversial single currency. “It is a security issue.”
In a separate Sputnik article aimed at salvaging efforts to quash Icelandic sovereignty, another lawmaker, Guðmundur Steingrímsson, who chairs Iceland’s Bright Future party, also blasted the ruling alliance over its decision. “I strongly oppose this move,” he said, referring to the government’s efforts to back out of membership talks. “I strongly believe that Iceland would benefit, with a good agreement, from EU membership.” Guðmundur also said negotiations should be concluded and then voters should decide in a referendum.
In the EU, however, referendums do not have the same meaning generally associated with the term around the world. When French and Dutch voters decided overwhelmingly not to shackle themselves to the draconian EU “Constitution,” for example, so-called “eurocrats” changed its name to the “Lisbon Treaty” and imposed it anyway. When Irish voters said no, they were bullied and threatened into holding another election and eventually voting yes. In Croatia, tax money and threats to pensions were used to terrorize voters into submission.
The vast majority of Europeans never even had a chance to vote on the scheme. The Swiss, meanwhile, despite voting overwhelmingly to remain independent, are regularly terrorized by the super-state to change their policies — sometimes after referendums. The EU continues to bully tiny Switzerland over everything from immigration to low taxes, and the Alpine nation is not even a member.
Today, the vast majority of “laws” imposed on around 500 million Europeans emanate from Brussels rather than national capitals, which have essentially become vassals of the EU bureaucrats who now rule the continent with an iron fist. Numerous top European politicians and even a former Soviet dictator have stated that the perpetually expanding super-state is moving quickly in the direction of the mass-murdering regime ruling the Soviet Union.
Of course, Iceland’s government is still a party to various sovereignty-usurping European regimes including the European Economic Area (EEA), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the visa-free travel Schengen area, and NATO. Because of its membership in the EEA, many of the radical decrees issued by the legions of Brussels bureaucrats are already imposed on Icelanders without their consent.
Aside from the fishing catch quotas and other draconian policies that would be imposed on the people of Iceland by unelected bureaucrats in faraway Brussels, Icelanders’ nerves are still raw following a vicious campaign by the EU to shackle taxpayers to unfathomable levels of debt. In the end, though, Iceland won.
In early 2013, Icelandic taxpayers secured their major victory against the EU and the European banking establishment, which sought to terrorize national authorities into foisting the wild debts of a failed private bank onto the backs of innocent Icelanders. After years of battling the super-state, an obscure European court ruled against the EU and said taxpayers had no obligation to cover the bank’s debt. Over nine out of 10 voters had previously rejected paying off the private bank’s debts in referendums.
Rather than surrendering what remains of their national sovereignty and self-government to out-of-control bureaucrats with an insatiable appetite for power located thousands of miles away, the people of Iceland would be much better served by withdrawing from existing sovereignty-crushing schemes such as the EEA. Of course, Brussels will shriek and threaten the tiny nation with loss of access to the market and more. But as the EU becomes increasingly authoritarian and openly boasts of plans to become an all-powerful federal regime, preserving self-government is now more important than ever.
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe.