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!!
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