14:17 GMT +314 December 2019
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    People rally during a protest against the Icelandic government's decision not to start negotiations with the European Union about joining the bloc, in Reykjavik

    EU or Not EU: Icelandic Politicians Cannot Decide on EU Membership

    © REUTERS / Sigtryggur Ari Johannsson
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    Some 7,000 Icelanders took to the streets of Reykjavik to protest the government’s decision to drop its bid for EU membership.

    Around 7,000 Icelanders protested in Reykjavik on Sunday against the government’s decision to drop its bid for EU membership.

    The government of Iceland decided to withdraw its EU membership bid earlier this week, stating that the country was better off outside of the EU. The problem was that the government took the decision without consulting parliament, which voted in favor of the bid back in 2009.

    To oppose the decision, four opposition parties organized the protest. According to the local police, around 7,000 people turned out to the protest, the largest Iceland had seen since 2008-2009 at the height of the financial crisis.

    “Only the Althingi (parliament) can revoke that decision. The government does not dare to face either parliament or the public on this issue, but tries to trick the EU into accepting a change of Iceland’s status”, said Arni Pall Arnason, head of the Social Democrats, the largest opposition party in Iceland, as cited by AFP.

    The opposition parties sent a letter to EU leaders on Friday asking them to keep Iceland under consideration for EU accession negotiations. A spokeswoman of the European Commission said that the door still remained open and it is now up to Iceland to decide whether the small island nation wants to join the EU or not.


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