Thursday, May 23, 2013

Iceland heads for EU referendum

The tiny island's move follows overwhelming public hostility to joining the EU, with only 25 per cent of people supporting it and is the first time that a country has changed its mind mid-way through entry talks.

A new coalition government has emerged in Iceland following elections last month where the EU was a major issue and has made the pledge for a popular vote the centre of its political programme.

"We will not continue the accession talks with the EU until after a referendum," said the coalition agreement unveiled by the island's liberal Progressive Party and conservative Independence Party.

The decision is a blow to the EU which is no longer regarded as a safe economic haven for small nations following the eurozone crisis and comes as Britain prepares for a 2017 referendum on membership.