As if Europe had not seen enough shifts this year with Brexit becoming evermore the reality of this year... and the next, well in the wake of this historical moment both Norway and Iceland have aired their thoughts about the EEA (European Economic Area), specifically-speaking about their membership. Now whilst Norway is as equally important in this article as Iceland, it is the latter that shall be covered in this article and the implications to follow if indeed Iceland does abandon the EEA and join the likes of Switzerland as merely an 'observer' of the EEA and the EU.
Iceland is governed by the ruling Progressive Party, recently or perhaps some time ago (not quite sure about Icelandic politics here) they adopted a new foreign policy which puts into question whether they should stay or leave the EEA and retract their membership of the Schengen Agreement; which to some people is dangerous in it's own rights, I shall leave you to ponder what the dangers are as inevitably there will be a split decision on whether the said agreement is beneficial or not.
Soon I shall delve into why this decision might benefit Icelandic musicians, rather than carrying on delivering all the somewhat boring, nitty-gritty paraphernalia that some call 'politics', instead of trawling around we'll go fishing for the truth (first of the few Icelandic puns; well they're keen fishers, but don't bank on using that pun for 'catching' some Iceland woman...).
Whilst Schengen merely is about the free movement of people, the EEA plays a more (un)important role in the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital. Whilst Schengen is not a part of the EEA legislature, Iceland as an EFTA member (European Free Trade Assocation) participates in the Schengen agreement through bilateral agreements and thus are required to apply all areas of what constitute European Union law.
Moreover when you consider the UK is Iceland's trading partner in both goods and services, it offers greater reassurance for 'Brexiteers' leading the route out of the EU, that we already have a standing trading agreement with our North Atlantic cousins. With the idea of the Icelandic Government seeking to expand trade deals with the British Governments over the current level, clearly there is a high mutual understanding between both countries.
Who can argue that Iceland at night (as pictured above) looks far more peaceful and cleaner than the current state of the EU? Well there are the Eurocrats... but we won't go down THAT route. In fact, who cannot say no to trading with a country who has their own natural lighting at night? Talk about saving electricity usage and energy costs; aside from the fact they use thermal power, renewable energy and yet with a population of over 332,000, which in contrast is larger than the likes of Newcastle, Bolton and Sunderland as the closest cities to Iceland in terms of population (2016), has become the most peaceful nation in the world. No wonder Iceland wants out.
So how will this benefit Icelandic musicians you now ask? Simple.
By establishing a direct link between two countries, both parties can work out an amicable and beneficial trade deal without the need or annoying disturbance from an intermediary third party such as the EU (depending upon what side of the fence you position yourself; we choose to remain neutral).
Let's start with the UK currently charges for imports on musical instruments from outside of the EU, for this we will purposely look at what rock and metal bands would generally import:-
* Taken from the HMRC website.
Now let's look at the rates that Iceland have imposed for their imports (again same instruments):-
Well, they seem to have no import tariffs on instruments, maybe this is true or perhaps the information is not available.
At least we cannot foresee a modern form of the cod war, truth be told by freeing the shackles of the EU from controlling our trade negotiations the UK can go pursue it's own deals without interference, ironically by leaving the EU we turn our backs on a unique trading 'club', either way there's bound to be a good outcome be it the licence to roam the world and strike mutually beneficial trade deals or to watch from afar as the European Union comes crashing down.... who is next? Who knows. Nexit? Frexit? Auxit? Can there even be a Euxit? (Well that's wishful thinking for some...)
Ultimately the question is will Iceland-UK relations strengthen as a result of the Brexit decision, moreover can both Governments look to support each others fledging music scenes as both have rich music histories and thus a no tariff on importing or exporting of musical instruements would be warmly welcome.
In the meantime, let's just enjoy the above photo of an Icelandic man who has dyed his beard in the pattern of the Icelandic flag, to watch Iceland glaze England over in a historic 2-1 win. Friður út!!
By Rhys Stevenson
Global Metal Apocalypse was speaking to one of our Dutch acquaintances about Metal music in The Netherlands, now he firmly believes that it is suffering and declining. We therefore decided to take the time out to speak to Kees Hermeling about this concern and ask him how the Dutch Metal scene has or has not changed over the last few decades or so. Therefore all opinions expressed are solely on behalf of Kees Hermeling and does not represent GMA's views.
Currently the Dutch Metal scene is feeling a backlash, besides the major bands who tour the country such as Delain, Within Temptation, Hail Of Bullets, Vanderbuyst, Epica, After Forever etc, it is not that big anymore and this is seen through the lack of metal pubs or bars, this lead us on to what improvements he thinks could be made in order to resolve this matter and improve the output of Dutch unsigned and underground Metal bands and projects.
Naturally he drags up his previous comment about the lack of pubs and bars offering metal nights, so he firmly believes that they should have at least metal nights to help bolster the local bands expansion and also to give the Dutch metalheads a place to congregate, enjoy live music and drink beer. Furthermore he feels that there needs to be more Metal stores for metalheads to purchase equipment, gear and related items within the metal music-sphere.
On a more political note and in specific the European Union, he believes that this unity has caused more good than bad as he has noticed that since joining a crisis has arisen and is still there, taxes shot up and as a result bars and pubs had to close due to a lack of sufficient funds to pay off the taxes as well as the suppliers and lease for the buildings used. This leads us to the question of whether the Euro has benefited the Dutch Metal scene or has it royally screwed it over.
With respect to equipment, it has become more expensive since we dropped the Dutch Guilder and adopted the Euro, in fact goods have doubled in price, thus increasing band's costs unintentionally and thus making it harder for some unsigned bands to make music, purchase equipment, hire out studio's and play at bars / pubs; because of them closing down, therefore it is evident that the Euro has knocked the Dutch Metal scene on it's knees and is now begging for mercy, so where does this leave the unsigned bands?
There are only a few unsigned bands that are currently doing well for themselves, and even most of these are of the Hardcore music genre. Could it be that because one music genre sets off a trend that every other musician has to jump on the bandwagon and go with what is cool? Well it certainly seems to be the case here, either that or Hardcore is being used as a vehicle to express dissatisfaction and anger towards the Dutch government and European Union. So what of the scene on a local level?
Well Arnhem according to Kees is practically dead aside from venues the Willemeen and the Luxor, who occasionally have metal nights (once a month), in comparison to the nation's capital, Amsterdam is pretty much alive if you know where to look, thus questioning whether it is the lesser cities and towns that are left scraping the barrel to keep the metal scenes alive, could this mean that there is a gradual shift towards major cities reaping in the bands? Could metal actually itself be dying?
He adds that if he wants to go buy a metal shirt, he has to go to Nijmegen, this resonates with his statement earlier about having more metal stores open, it definitely seems that the Dutch Metal scene is waning slightly, for how long is one question and how serious can this get is another. One thing is for sure, this proves once again that supporting your local bands is vital for the scenes existence.
Having heard about the ongoing debate and struggles faced in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, the question of joining the E.U. or not has certainly turned for the worst. With deaths now being reported, is the Eastern European nation falling on it's knees or will this turn out to be an unintended civil war?
What of the Ukrainian metal scene? Surely that must face a threat from all angles, from gig cancellations to threat of losing lives at the highest extreme. But of course in this time we must send our support to our brothers and sisters in The Ukraine, so that they never give up hope and of course come to some sort of agreement that will end this violent conflict.
GMA spoke to a Ukrainian musician who we have known about their band for sometime, for socio-political and moral reasons we will not name the person in question as we do not want to risk their safety, but we thank them for their time to speak to us.
This is what the musician had to say:
"It is sad to say that The Ukraine is now undoubtedly facing a civil war breaking out. The thing is, the police are supporting the Mafia Government and will as a result integrate with the hired bandits and end up killing protesters.
Already there are so many victims, and because of the unequal forces it will be a brutal struggle and fight. Naturally this will provoke social rest, but it is a fact that the Ukrainian society is divided and this includes the musicians too. See we live in the Ukrainian part, however the pro-Russian part of the population hate us.
In my honest opinion I would not be surprised if in the near future or so, our country will split into two halves, more over it is possible that not only will concerts end, but our normal lives will end too and as such in principle, we will live in accordance to martial law.
It is sad to say that with such circumstances, it is difficult to predict anything. None of us know what sort of country we will wake up to tomorrow, would it not be a state of emergency, for example. I would advise against bands who want to play here, because of the violence that is happening.
I am of course in utter shock, as well as the rest of my countrymen are, music for us has been shifted to the background because of this highly difficult time we're going through".
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