Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir told the country's parliament that Iceland's application for EU membership "represents a clear strategy for the country's direction and vision for the longer term. The application and the reception it has received send a clear and reassuring message to the outside world".
The PM referred to the issues still outstanding with the UK and Dutch governments in less positive terms, claiming that it is unfair for both governments to "wash their hands of the failure of their own financial supervisory bodies, no less than that of our own, in the Icesave question".
"It is extremely unfair of them to place obstacles in the way of co-operation between Iceland and the IMF. We became the victims of a tacit agreement, by all the countries with which we primarily trade and otherwise deal with on both sides of the Atlantic, that it was necessary to defend flawed financial market regulation to prevent bank runs throughout the world," Sigurdardottir said.
Stefan Haukur Johannesson, Iceland's chief negotiator on EU accession, announced that his government is planning a thorough communication campaign to inform Icelanders about the EU. He also stated that negotiations might be concluded within a year to eighteen months (EURACTIV 20/07/09).
Following their national congress in March 2009, the Independence Party's stance on the EU remained unaffected. "The Independence Party holds that Iceland's interests are best secured by remaining outside of the EU. A complete membership would threaten to take control over Iceland's biggest national resources, such as the fisheries. The Independence Party also emphasises greatly that it will ultimately be the Icelandic nation, the people, who decide if membership talks with the EU commence, and a second vote will be conducted about the result of possible membership talks."
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a speech at the Iceland University that Iceland is "deeply integrated with the EU through the EEA and Schengen".
"It is already implementing major parts of the acquis communautaire. Thus, the remaining distance to be covered will be shorter than for other countries that do not have such strong ties with the EU," Rehn added, before warning that "the remaining distance may not necessarily be any easier".
EU Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Joe Borg condemned Iceland's decision to set unilaterally its fishing targets for mackerel in 2009. "In setting such an exaggerated level of quota, Iceland is acting in contradiction to its international obligations to cooperate on the conservation of this key resource in the North East Atlantic," Borg said, adding that the quota "completely undermines the successful multilateral management of the stock by the EC, Norway and the Faroe Islands since 1999".
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said on 21 July 2009, a few days after Iceland's membership submission, that a solution to the problem of Icesave would "encourage rapid consideration of Iceland's bid to join the European Union. It would show that Iceland takes European directives seriously".
Mark Flanagan, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) head of mission to Iceland, claims that – although delayed by controversies with some creditors – the programme which is now in place will help to initiate a recovery by the middle of 2010 and that the medium-term outlook for Iceland is "extremely bright".
A Gallup poll conducted in July 2010 revealed that 60% of Icelanders support the withdrawal of its request for EU membership.
Tomas Heidar, the Icelandic representative at the International Whaling Commission, says that killing off whales eliminates an important competitor to the island's fishing fleet as its economy struggles and that, most importantly, it was a question of principle that the EU should respect.
"A coastal state has the right to sustainably utilise all living marine resources," he said, adding: ''Hopefully the EU will appreciate that there are special traditions in northern Europe.''
Veteran Icelandic whaler and head of the Hvalur whaling company Kristjan Loftsson was more blunt on the issue of national pride. ''The management of fisheries in the EU is the worst example you can find of managing natural resources and Iceland is not going to join that nonsense," he insisted.