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Europe

Parliament votes to back application for EU membership

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-16

Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir (pictured) welcomed a parliamentary decision to submit an application for EU membership, calling the decision "the most historic vote" in the republic's history.

AFP - Iceland's parliament voted in favour of applying for EU membership on Thursday in the wake of its economic meltdown, opening the way for negotiations to begin with the 27-nation bloc.

A total of 33 members of the 63-seat Althingi backed the governing Social Democrat party's proposition to open membership talks with Brussels, while 28 voted against and two abstained.

Five members of the Left Green party, the Social Democrats' partner in the coalition government, rejected the proposition, including Jon Bjarnason, the minister of agriculture and fisheries.

The pro-EU Social Democrats, who hold 20 seats, and the 14-strong Left Greens formed a coalition government at the end of April following a general election.

But it is the voters who will have the last word on whether the government pursues joining.

If and when Iceland completes successful membership negotiations with the European Union, the question will then be put to the Icelandic people in a referendum.

Iceland's Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Johanna Sigurdardottir was a strong advocate of closer ties with the EU and adopting the euro on the election campaign trial earlier this year.

The government argues joining the European Union would be beneficial for Iceland, claiming it would stabilise the economy following the collapse of its once-booming financial sector in October.
 

Date created : 2009-07-16