In Brussels, Štefan Füle, the Czech and European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, was silent at first when I asked him, ten days ago, if he was surprised about how many Icelanders have a negative attitude about joining the European Union.
Then he said: "Yes, because Iceland has been faster and done better in legislating European directives than most countries in the European Union. Therefore it is a great surprise.”
"Icelanders are willing to live by the rules of the European Union, through the EEA, but not have anything to say about legislation and the policies of the European Union," he added.
Štefan Füle also said that it is up to the people of Iceland to say, in a referendum, if they want or do not want to be part of Europe.
We are not the first nation to be negative in the negotiation process.
There was very little public support in Denmark and Sweden for joining the EU, when they were seeking membership.
In Malta, the negotiations were postponed for more than a year, half way through the process.
In these countries today, there is no support for leaving the union of half a billion people. And Malta is an island, with a small population, like Iceland.
They have something to say. It is not only the big nations, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK, which rule, so to speak.
So if you speak the Goidelic language, as 77,185 people or 1.8 percent of the Irish population do, you can use it in all meetings within the European Union. It is one of the official languages.
José Manuel Durão Barroso from Portugal, has been the President of the European Commission for the last eight years, and the Vice President is Margot Wallström from Sweden.
Sweden and Portugal are two of the smaller nations in Europe, both in population and economy. Portugal is one of the PIIGS nations (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), the nations with the biggest economic problems in Europe.
This has nothing to do with the euro or the European Union.
There are self-made problems in all of these countries, arising from a combination of bad politicians and cheap money to lend—before the banking crisis of 2008.
Now it is pay day.
And what will happen in Greece, which has by far the biggest economic crisis in Europe?
In the German magazine Der Spiegel, Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of the Greek Pasok Party and former Finance Minister, was asked last week: Where will your country be ten years from now?
"I want my country to be able to determine its fate alone again and to no longer be financially dependent on other countries. We therefore need to change the rules of our entire state and society. The project is very ambitious: We must make sacrifices, but we also cannot fall into despair. The first step is the new elections that will hopefully take place in May. The vast majority of Greeks accept the need for reform and want to keep our country inside the Euro zone. It is important that Greece restore its reputation. I want my country to again stand for hope, credibility and professionalism."
So there is hope. Not only for the people in Greece, but for Europe and the overvalued euro.
And in Brussels, I saw that small nations, like Malta, Estonia and Luxembourg, matter. They have a saying: “Power to block, power to plot”—to be part of the regulatory power of the European Union.
Icelanders just follow and legislate European directives, without having anything to say.
That’s not right. It is wrong.
Páll Stefánsson – [email protected]