The European Union officially opened membership talks with Iceland yesterday, with the EU’s common fisheries policy
arguably the largest obstacle for the parties to overcome in order for the island to become a fully-fledged EU member.
Speaking to the press, the Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson
, welcomed the opening of the negotiations proclaiming it “quite a historic day for Iceland as well as the European Union
” but commented that the EU’s common fisheries policy has failed to prevent “endemic overfishing
” elsewhere and so Iceland’s fishing sector “must not be undermined” if it ever joins the EU.
(He later suggested Iceland’s fishing waters should be named a “specific management area,
” which would let only Iceland ‘manage’ the species there, an idea to which Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle
responded that no “permanent
” exemptions can be granted but left the door open to a temporary one being negotiated.)
But with opinion polls suggesting a declining Icelandic enthusiasm to EU membership
, is the future of its vitally-important fishing industry just the tip of the iceberg where negotiators will have to tread carefully?
I believe so, and also that the importance attached to this industry inspired one of the most incredible and artistic goal celebrations ever seen on a football pitch, the clip of which is now going viral around the world.
Last weekend in the Úrvalsdeild
, Iceland's Premier League, seventh-placed Stjarnan
took on ninth-placed Fylkir
After falling behind on the stroke of halftime, Stjarnan turned the match around in the second half to win 2-1 with the winning goal arriving late in injury time as striker Halldor Orri Bjornsson
netted a last-gasp penalty. Cue the celebration.
Aided by defender Johann Laxdal
, who took the role as the fish, the Stjarnan squad at large produced what could well win the award as the best goal celebration of the 2010/11 season.
Certainly a great celebration and certainly came at an appropriate time. Coincidence?