Two thirds of Icelanders oppose EU membership. Can you blame them?

Two thirds of Icelanders oppose EU membership. Can you blame them?

Daniel Hannan

Daniel Hannan is a writer and journalist, and has been Conservative MEP for South East England since 1999. He speaks French and Spanish and loves Europe, but believes that the European Union is making its constituent nations poorer, less democratic and less free.

By Daniel Hannan Last updated: March 31st, 2012

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100148446/two-thirds...


Icelanders cast a cold eye on the EU

Leftie bloggers keep returning, as a dog returneth to its vomit, to my admiration for Iceland. The fact that I praised Iceland's economic model is a source of constant delight to them. Yet they are starting to look badly behind the times. Iceland is growing faster than the eurozone and, because its government didn't make the mistake of assuming private bank liabilities, its recovery is not burdened by European-level debt-to-GDP ratios. Small wonder that, according to the most recent poll, 67 per cent of Icelanders oppose EU membership.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to The Economist. Or to The Guardian. As the main Icelandic daily Morgunblaðið puts it:

Íslendinga vera klára þjóð sem hefði herst við þá erfiðleika sem kynslóðir þeirra hefðu gengið í gegnum og þeir vissu betur en að kasta á glæ frelsi sínu.

For the tiny number of people in the world who don't read Icelandic, here it is in English:

As they say in Reykjavík: Hver hlær núna? Who's laughing now?


Views: 211

Comment by James μολὼν λαβέ on April 1, 2012 at 10:33am

What we all can learn from Iceland’s default

As the first country to experience the full force of the global debt crisis, Iceland opted to default and not enslave its taxpayers in perpetuity to bail out the banks. (You can read more about Iceland’s path to financial destruction in Michael’s Lewis’ Vanity Fair series from 2009 here.

The choice to knock off zeros on their debts has not been pain-free fix for Icelanders, their Icelandic krona plunged spiking the prices for items they import and Icelanders saw an 18% drop in their disposable income in 2009. Mind you, if other nations had chosen to admit the truth and let their bad banks go at the same time in 2009, many currencies would have taken a more simultaneous hit which would have made for less of a relative decline in any one currency. In this case Iceland was the first to admit truth, scratch off and start fresh.  They are also further along in recovery now as a result.

Iceland’s pain was mostly front loaded, and their growth in 2012 (est. 3%) is looking brighter than most countries in the debt-plagued developed world.  Not spending tax dollars on bail outs, they have been able to double down on investment in things that will strengthen them long-term like education and green technology.  They are an example of how it is possible for a country to let the banks take their deserved losses, and still overcome deep economic dislocation without undoing the social fabric. Joseph Stiglitz discusses lessons learned in this video link.

No path out of the debt crisis is pain-free. We have to decide whether to cut out the cancer now or let it continue to sicken and impede our progress for years to come. Countries can choose to let the banks take their losses and reestablish capitalism as the model, or they can keep choosing to support banks and socialize losses that encumber us worker bees for decades. The choice is up to each country to make, and in a democracy, the workers are supposed to have the power to decide.

For a good summary on this see:   Here’s what Europe can learn from Iceland.

Comment by Daniel Nielsen on April 1, 2012 at 10:40am

Lets not forget either they were very sceptic of NATO & UN too. We have many icelanders here (Denmark) since the close bonds tied together ever since the viking era. And since the viking blood still runs strong in many of em (more than Denmark) i can only imagine the fear for their loss of sovereignty and their freedom.

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