Iceland has postponed plans to withdraw its application for European Union membership, the government said on Monday (12 May), after protesters called for a referendum.
The government drafted a bill earlier this year to withdraw Iceland’s 2009 EU membership application without holding a public vote, but thousands of protesters gathered in March and April outside parliament, calling on the ruling parties to honour election promises to put the EU issue to a referendum.
Foreign Affairs Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson did not promise that. “I expect that parliament will return to the issue after the summer recess. I only consider it a formality,” he said.
“The government is not in any negotiations with the EU and does not intend to hold any.”
Around 55,000 people in Iceland signed a petition calling for a referendum on EU membership. Opinion polls indicate a majority of Iceland’s 320,000 people want such a vote.
In an opinion poll conducted earlier this month, 37% of Icelanders said they want to join the EU, the highest level since the country put in its application. The poll showed 49% of Icelanders were against joining.