The FINANCIAL — According to EU business, a large majority of Icelanders want their crisis-hit country to apply for EU membership and adopt the euro, but their enthusiasm has dwindled somewhat since the height of the financial panic last month, a poll showed on November 24.
The poll, published in the Frettabladid daily, indicated that 59.6 percent of Icelanders think their North Atlantic island nation should apply to join the European Union.
About 68 percent support replacing their sharply depreciated krona with the euro.
While the support for EU membership is far higher than in a similar poll conducted in September 2007, when 48.9 percent of those questioned said Iceland should apply, it has shrunk more than nine percentage points compared to a survey carried out last month.
In October, as Iceland's once booming financial sector collapsed under the weight of the global financial crisis and the government rushed in to take over major banks, 68.8 percent of Icelanders said they thought the country should try to join the EU while 72.5 percent said it should enter the eurozone.
One explanation for the waning interest in joining the bloc could be found in the difficult negotiations leading up to the desperately needed bailout from the international community that Reykjavik finally secured last week.
The aid was blocked for weeks as the governments of Britain and the Netherlands pressured Reykjavik to reimburse savers in failed Icelandic bank branches in their countries, with London going so far as to use anti-terrorist legislation to freeze Icelandic banks' British assets.
The negative sentiments generated by this ordeal have, according to observers, benefitted Iceland's anti-EU movement and its message that the bloc mainly benefits its large members while the interests of small countries like Iceland, which counts just 320,000 inhabitants, are often trampled on.
The telephone survey of about 800 people was conducted by Frettabladid on November 22.