In a significant insult, Iceland yanked the rug out from under the EU, saying, “Interests are better served outside!”
After stating that it was better off outside the Brussels group, Iceland shunned the EU and its allure of membership.
During the UK and EU’s ultimate Brexit accord, the dispute over fishing rights and catch zones became one of the most pressing problems. The fishing sector was at the center of a standoff between the UK and many of the EU members that profit the most from British seas, especially France and Spain, in November and December of last year. Although a compromise was eventually reached, the UK fishing sector saw Boris Johnson’s quota agreement as a complete capitulation.
Many countries in and around Europe have had similar disagreements with the EU about fishing rights and access to territorial seas.
Iceland notably refused to join the EU, with many speculating that the choice was influenced by the bloc’s fishing demands.
Iceland’s EU-shared stocks are regulated through annual bilateral discussions, with the total authorized catches changing each year based on scientific advice.
Iceland, as an independent coastal state, snubbed the EU in 2015, just a year before the Brexit vote, when it announced it was abandoning its attempt to join as the EU’s 29th member.
Then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said on his website, “Iceland’s interests are best served outside the European Union,” in a harsh assessment of why it had opted to stop membership talks.
Many have pointed out that Iceland’s initial bid for membership occurred in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, when the country was in a position of complete chaos.
The country was in the midst of an economic crisis, with the Icelandic krona losing over half of its value, making eurozone membership appealing.
The contentious issue of fishing quotas, on the other hand, was considered as the stumbling block to entering the union.
However, this was never brought up during the accession talks.
However, Mr Sveinsson, who had been appointed as the country’s fishery minister, stated in 2016 that the country would “never join the EU” since the country’s major goal was to maintain sovereignty over fishing grounds.
Fishing is an important part of Iceland’s economy, and the country boasts one of the world’s most advanced and prolific fishing enterprises.
It was never made apparent how the differences between Brussels and Reykjavik could be resolved on the matter.
While Iceland’s government was adamant about not joining the EU, Icelanders had a different opinion.
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