Iceland. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the country's economy continued to recover after
the financial crisis. During the first quarter, GDP reached
the size before the financial crisis seven years earlier. At
the end of the year, unemployment fell to 2%, the lowest
figure in seven years. The government decided to lift the
capital controls introduced due to the crisis. It signaled a
recovery following the collapse of the banking system and
that Iceland was returning to the international financial
market with free movement of capital. The government thus
hoped to be able to raise Iceland's credit rating and reduce
its borrowing costs.
In February, it was reported that NATO's radar system
detected two Russian bombers that twice passed near
Iceland's southwest coast. It was the closest Icelandic
contact with Russian military aircraft since the US military
left its base in Keflavík in 2006.
In March, the government formally withdrew Iceland's
application for EU membership, declaring that it does not
intend to resume the negotiations that were canceled in
2013. The message called for angry protests from the
political opposition, which in a letter to the EU stated
that the government had no legal basis for its decision. The
letter to the EU was described by the government as treason.
In Reykjavík, around 8,000 people gathered in protest
against the government and demanded its resignation since
the election promise to hold a referendum on EU membership
broken. The four opposition parties in the Alliance demanded
a referendum on whether Iceland would resume its
negotiations with the EU.
A survey in March showed that for the first time, the
Pirate Party had the largest public support. The party had
almost doubled its support from previous investigation. For
four months in a row, the Pirate Party was in the top, and
in August the party in Gallup gained a full 36% against 24
for the Independence Party. Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð
Gunnlaugsson of the Progress Party, who lagged behind in the
opinion, warned the voters of the Pirate Party that he
believed posed a danger to Iceland.
A survey on the confidence of politicians in April showed
that only 9% of respondents saw Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson
as an honest politician, while 47% had the image of Katrín
Jakobsdóttir, leader of the opposition Left-Green.
After unsuccessful negotiations with the public
employers, a long-lasting strike broke out among nurses and
professional groups in the academic union during the spring.
In June, around a thousand strikers demonstrated outside the
Reykjavík government office with demands for higher wages.
Some explained that they were considering leaving the
country unless pay conditions improved. In Alltinget, the
government pushed through a forced strike to postpone the
strike among nurses and academics a few summer weeks. The
government cannot stop a strike but has the opportunity to
push it forward.
On June 19, a thousand women gathered in front of the
Parliament to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women's
suffrage in Iceland. The popular past president Vigdís
Finnbogadóttir, now 85, was one of the speakers.
A coalition of international animal welfare organizations
in June, in a letter to President Barack Obama urged the
United States to impose sanctions on Icelandic companies
that have ties to the commercial whaling industry. The call
came after reports that an Icelandic company was shipping
1,800 tonnes of election products to Japan in violation of
an international ban on such trade.
In August, the Russian Federation imposed sanctions on
Iceland because of its support for EU sanctions against the
federation following its military involvement in Ukraine and
the annexation of Crimea. The Russian Federation, which
stopped the import of food from Iceland, is a major importer
of Icelandic capelin, herring and mackerel. Nearly half of
all Icelandic mackerel were sold to the Russian Federation
During the summer, Iceland was allocated a quota of 50
refugees of those the EU decided to redistribute between
European countries. The decision prompted Icelanders to
start a Facebook group for increased reception. Over 10,000
Icelanders supported it and many offered to welcome refugees
in their homes or to volunteer and donate. It was proposed
that Iceland would welcome 5,000 refugees. It was rejected
by the government, which however decided to increase its
reception to 100 refugees.
The government declared during the year that Iceland
accepts the EU's plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by
40% by 2030 compared with 1990. The Icelandic Environment
Association criticized the government for simultaneously
supporting plans for the construction of three high-purity
silicon production plants, facilities such as it is
estimated to emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and
increase annual emissions by 20%.
When British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Iceland
in October, it was decided to jointly explore the
possibilities of connecting Iceland's electricity grid to
the British via a cable under the North Sea. Exports of
Icelandic electricity to the UK have been discussed for
several years, as there is a British electricity shortage.
Icelandic artist Björk went out in a public protest against
increased electricity production, as she and other
environmental activists fear that large unspoilt natural
areas are threatened by new hydroelectric plants. This is
despite the fact that possible exports to the UK will be
made possible by an expansion of power generation from hot
sources, so-called thermal energy.