The Icelandic government released a statement on Friday condemning what it considers “a campaign of threats” regarding the country’s fisheries policy. The EU has threatened economic sanctions against Iceland if an agreement in the mackerel dispute is not reached.
Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affaires and Fisheries, said in June that she is not willing to wait until October this year to continue the mackerel negotiations.
The statement from Iceland’s government reads in part:
“In recent months the European Union (EU) has conducted an on-going campaign of threats of coercive measures against Iceland and the Faroe Islands with the objective of gaining advantages in multilateral negotiations on the management of shared fish stocks. This conduct is in breach of various obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and general international law, in particular the obligation on coastal states to agree together on measures to assure the protection and development of a common stock. Furthermore, such measures would not be in accordance with the EU’s obligations under the WTO or, as regards Iceland, the EEA Agreement.
It is of great concern to the Government of Iceland that the EU seeks to prejudice the rights of free negotiation and agreement of other coastal States in the region, in pursuing the interests of certain Member States. It is of further concern to Iceland that the EU intentionally circumvents mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of disputes, available under the Convention.
The Government of Iceland rejects and objects in the strongest terms to the EU’s resort to threats of coercive measures against Iceland and the Faroe Islands as a means of settling disputes on the management of shared fish stocks. The Government calls on the EU to withdraw these threats, thereby abiding by its obligations under international law.”
In related news, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson disputes claims that there is disagreement within the government on Iceland joining the European Union, stating that the issue is simply not on the table.