Iceland EU talks: more than 80% support referendum

More than 80 per cent of Icelanders feel the government should ask their opinion in a referendum before deciding to break off EU membership talks, revealed a recent survey.

The North Atlantic nation only started to consider joining the EU in the aftermath of the financial crash which saw its three biggest banks go bankrupt in 2008 and sent the economy spiralling into meltdown.

However, the debt problems Europe has since suffered has led to many Icelanders wanting to forget the thought of joining. The new government, which was elected last May, has put talks on hold and wants to completely scrap them, and parliament is now thinking about doing so without the previously-promised referendum.

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said Iceland is deceiving all 28 members of the EU by claiming the membership talks have only been put on hold when there is no “whole-hearted intention behind them”.

But Icelanders who support their country joining the EU demonstrated outside parliament last week demanding a vote, while more than 40,000 people, in a country of just 320,000 people, have signed an online petition. Furthermore, in a poll conducted by Channel 2 television and Frettabladid newspaper, some 82 per cent out of 805 Icelanders surveyed supported a referendum

A spokesperson for parliament said talks on the issue would be ongoing this week and that the Foreign Affairs Committee would also liaise on the matter.