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Faroe Islands

Yearbook 2019

Faroe Islands. At the beginning of the year, the Faroe Islands became one of the first countries to secure their exports to the UK after Brexit. A free trade agreement was signed in order to enter into force on the UK exit from the EU. The United Kingdom is the Faroe Islands' closest neighbor and exports there, mainly of fish, amount to about SEK 1 billion annually.

An increase in total fish exports has resulted in strong economic growth. Unemployment has dropped to 1.6%, the lowest in ten years. Budget surpluses have led to the Faroe Islands being more self-sufficient financially than before. The Danish grant is down to only 6% of public revenue.

In the legislative elections in the Faroe Islands in August, the Social Democrat-led self-government government lost its majority despite economic growth. The electoral movement was largely about the government's criticized fishing reform from 2017. There was also criticism of a new law that gave gays the right to marry.

The system of selling fishing quotas at auction and a ceiling for individual shipping companies' quota holdings had met strong protests from the fishing industry and aroused opposition mainly in the northern islands. The Conservative People's Party gave voice to the dissatisfaction and became the winner of the election, taking 8 seats. The Liberal Union Party increased to 7 seats. Both the Social Democrats and the Republican coalition partner went back, to 7 and 6 seats, respectively.

The People's Party, the Unionist Party and the Christian Democratic Center Party formed a coalition that had a majority with 17 out of 33 seats in the Lagting. The team leader and head of government became the leader of the Union Party Brur Steig Nielsen.

The new coalition declared that the disputed fisheries reform would change. Auctions would be abolished and shipping companies would be allowed to retain fishing rights for several years. In addition, foreign capital would again be invested in Faroese fishing.

The Republican former fisheries minister described the new policy as a nightmare, where fishing once again falls into a few private hands and where foreign capital gains influence.

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