Iceland applied for EU membership in the aftermath of the global recession of 2008. However, Iceland suspended its EU bid in 2013, and Iceland’s then prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, withdrew the country’s application two years later.
At the time, he said, “I am pretty sure our recovery couldn’t have happened if we had been part of the EU.” He added: “We might have even gone the other way and become a bankrupt country”.
Mr Gunnlaugsson argued that Iceland might have suffered the fate of Greece, with its long-running economic collapse, or Ireland, which saw its public debt skyrocket as the government took on the bad debts of the banking sector.
As members of the EU, and with debt in Euros, Iceland would have had to take instructions from the EU and follow the same path as Ireland or Greece.
Over time, as Iceland slowly got its economy into better shape, popular feeling changed.
This was partly due to the EU’s desire for deeper integration, which risked harming national interests.
An example of that was the EU’s so-called “third energy package,” which some feared would have weakened Iceland’s control over natural resources and grant more powers to EU regulators.