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Readers debate Iceland's EU bid

The Icelandic parliament has narrowly voted in favour of the small Nordic nation joining the European Union.

The bid must now go to the EU for approval, after which Iceland's voters will be asked to decide on it in a referendum.

Here, readers from Iceland consider the benefits and drawbacks of EU membership.

MAGNUS LUDVIKSSON, 20, REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

Magnus Ludviksson
I am in favour of joining the EU. The main benefits are economic in nature.

It will, in my opinion, stimulate the growth of the Icelandic economy and when our country is ready, solve the biggest problem of Icelandic business - our tiny and volatile currency, by adopting the euro.

It will also cement our position as a European democracy and give us a voice at the EU table.

The main drawbacks have to do with the EU's common fisheries policy, which frightens many.

However, I believe that the relative stability principle of the policy is protection enough.

In other words, I'm just not ready to believe that the EU would ever destroy a member country's most important industry.


THORUNN SLEIGHT, 54, REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

Thorunn Sleight
I, along with most people I know, am very weary of the idea of Iceland joining the EU.

We are very fearful of losing our independence.

In such a large body, a small country like ours would be overwhelmed by the multitude. We would be handicapped in working for our best interests.

In addition, there is the fishing issue, which, although fishing is no longer the mainstay of our economy, is very important to all of us.

Fishing is our past, the source of much of our culture and traditions, the bastion of our security. We regard ourselves as responsible and successful stewards of the ocean.

We do not trust the EU not to screw things up with all their red tape, reams of regulations, and need to pander to the demands of all the other members.

Despite the outcome of the vote in parliament, I doubt very much that the general population will approve of Iceland joining the EU.


THORSTEINN HALLDORSSON, 47, HAFNARFJORDUR, ICELAND

Thorsteinn Halldorsson
EU membership is a must for our economy and our future.

The far-right and far-left parties in this country fear membership, as they would lose the influence they have so dearly held onto in the last 50 years.

The simple fact is that Iceland's general public, not scholars or bankers or their sons, would come out the winners if we do join the EU.

What is being argued by opponents is total fear-mongering and doom and gloom in order to try to fool the public.

EU membership and the adoption of the euro will stabilise our economy and promote growth once again.


SIGVALDI ASGEIRSSON, 59, BORGARNES, WESTERN ICELAND

Sigvaldi Asgeirsson
I don't think Iceland should join the EU. I don't like its bureaucratic ways and the way smaller countries are bullied by bigger ones.

The Icelandic domestic fishing zone is an important landmark in our struggle for economic sovereignty. This would be jeopardised by EU membership.

Agriculture would probably be decimated, which is not a good thing when you live on an island which is thinly populated and would like to preserve the relative healthy state of the island's livestock.

Most importantly, we would not be able to adopt the euro for years to come, probably at least 30 years, as our sovereign debt is now inching over 200% of GNP and will take time to be lowered to the 60% required for joining the eurozone, under the terms of the Maastricht Treaty.

I am not optimistic about our being able to go it alone, but I would rather have it that way than join the EU, even if it meant economic hardship on a scale we have not seen for about 70 years.

Besides, I am not convinced that our economic crisis would be lessened as a member of the EU.

After all, we are richer than Bulgaria and Romania, as well as the Baltic countries.




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