Iceland's Pirate Party Opposes EU-US TTIP Deal Over Lack of Transparency
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Opinion polls have long been putting the Pirate Party on course to win the Saturday vote. Just two days ahead of the elections the party is slightly behind the ruling center-right Independence Party enjoying the support of about 20 percent of voters, which is still a good chance to win the elections.
“We generally oppose to TTIP because it is non-transparent and it doesn’t seem to have the interest of the general population at heart. There has been no real access or understanding of the public what this deal entails and we have serious reservation about entering this agreement,” Aevarsdottir, who is also running for the second seat of the Southwest Constituency, said.
The TTIP, negotiations on which have been ongoing since 2013, seeks to establish a free trade zone between the two sides of Atlantic. Since the start of the talks, the deal has drawn severe criticism for the lack of transparency. Its opponents also express concern over the tremendous power it would potentially give to international corporations and the fact that it could seriously violate ecological standards.
Iceland, though not part of the European Union, will be impacted by the deal as the country is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Pirate Party, which was founded by internet activists and civil rights campaigners in 2012, is based on the political ideology of the Swedish Pirate Party, which was set up with a goal to bring about internet copyright reform. Among the key ideas the party advocates are democracy, civil rights, transparency and public access to information and responsible decision making.
It gained momentum in April, when thousands of angry Icelanders took to the streets after the release of the Panama Papers revealing a corruption in Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson’s government. These protests led to his resignation and new elections.
Referendum on EU Accession Talks Resumption
Iceland’s Pirate Party, poised to win the parliamentary elections on Saturday, wants to hold a referendum on resuming accession talks with the European Union, Aevarsdottir said.
“I think people want to see what we can get out of joining the EU and I think a lot of people regret that we lost so much time and so much money to these negotiations and they were just cancelled by the current government that, actually, betrayed their electorate promising to hold a referendum on whether or not to continue talks. People do want to have this promise kept and it is a promise that we would keep,” Aevarsdottir said.
She underlined that, generally, the Icelandic society favored an idea of not joining the bloc.
In 2009, the Icelandic government applied to join the European Union after the country had suffered a severe financial crisis. After three years of negotiations, talks were suspended due to outstanding disagreements.
The government of Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, which opposed Iceland’s EU membership, announced in May 2013 that it had suspended all accession talks with the bloc and had no plans to resume them unless first approved in a referendum.
No Plans to Leave Schengen, European Economic Area After Brexit
The Pirate Party does not see the country leaving the European Economic Area (EEA) and Schengen deals for a new agreement with the United Kingdom after the Brexit vote, she said.
“I do not think any serious parties talk about leaving the EEA. It is not something that Pirates in any way [are] planning on doing and I haven’t seen a single party that has a chance of winning seats in the parliament talking about leaving the EEA or the Schengen cooperation,” Aevarsdottir, who is also running for the second seat of the Southwest Constituency, said.
The Progressive Party of Iceland, however, claims that due to “fundamental changes” to the EEA after the United Kingdom has chosen to leave the bloc, the government must look into alternatives to these agreements as the United Kingdom is Iceland’s largest trading partner to secure the current level of trade between the two countries.
Aevarsdottir believes that Iceland should continue to seek cooperation with European nations, inside and outside the European Union, with agreements based on equality and taking into account mutual interests and benefits.
Iceland and countries like Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are part of the European single market and the EEA but are not EU members.