REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland will not start negotiations with the European Union about joining the bloc, its foreign ministry said, confirming the ruling party’s 2013 election promise and formalizing a freeze on accession talks since it came to power.
The North Atlantic nation of 325,000 people underwent a financial meltdown in 2008, bringing the country to the verge of bankruptcy after three banks collapsed during the global financial crisis.
That crisis boosted support for membership of the EU in a nation that had traditionally been isolated from mainland Europe and experienced conflict over fishing quotas that impact one of the main drivers of its economy.
“The government considers that Iceland is no longer a candidate country and requests the EU to act in accordance with this from now on,” the foreign ministry said in a statement after it said it had spoken with EU president Latvia.
Iceland had started talks on joining the EU in 2009 but after the election of the current, more EU-sceptic government, popular support has retreated.
Reporting by Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir; Additional reporting by Sabina Zawadzki and Alexander Tange in Copenhagen; Editing by Hugh Lawson