Meet our consul in Iceland

Since May 1st 2019 we have a new consul in Iceland, Bernhard Bernhardsson. To introduce him to a wider audience, we have asked him some questions.

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©Astrid Jansen
First speech of Consul Bernhard Bernhardsson

What is your name and title?
Bernhard Bernhardsson, head of Products and Digital at the Retail bank of Arion bank.

What is your relation with the Netherlands?
My grandfather was a Dutch gardener who came to Iceland to help Icelanders start their horticulture business and eventually started his own nursery in Iceland, so I have relatives in the Netherlands. I also went to the Netherlands as a child and later spent a whole summer in Amersfoort with the Wynants family learning to speak Dutch. I still go there regularly.

You have just started as consul for the Netherlands this spring. Why did you decide to accept this role and how are you experiencing it?
My Dutch roots are very important to me and always have been, so I was both honoured and glad to have the opportunity to strengthen my relation with the Netherlands and also with the Dutch community in Iceland. So far it has been very enjoyable, I have met a lot of new people and the variety of tasks has been very good. All in all the start has been beyond my expectations. Also having an experienced employee at the Consulate such as Ingunn is extremely valuable and helpful for me.  

How would you describe the relations between the Netherlands and Iceland?
The Netherlands is very important as a trading partner for Iceland. It is the main trading route for Icelandic exports. Last year, more than 30% of all exports went through the Netherlands. Secondly, most of the flowers and vegetable that are imported to Iceland are sourced from or through Dutch growers and companies.

There are many more other business relationships between the two countries and for example the largest company on the Icelandic Stork Exchange, Marel, is both Icelandic and Dutch and is now also listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

Besides the trade, we have a lot of people in Iceland that have studied in the Netherlands resulting in cultural and social connections between the countries.

What role do you see for yourself as consul general?
The consulate has an office in Reykjavík and Ingunn, our employee at the consulate, has a long experience in helping Dutch people with different tasks such as lost passports, getting certain certificates and so on. Sometimes unexpected things happen and you need help outside of office hours and then we have the emergency telephone and try to offer assistance where possible.

Next to assisting Dutch people in Iceland, there is also an interest of companies to do business with Iceland. Do you have any tips for them?
If a company needs help with finding and developing contacts I would be more than happy to help. Iceland is a small country and since I have been in the banking sector for quite some time I am more than willing to tap into my network and try to help people or companies interested in starting a business relationship in Iceland.

How can people best get in touch with you?
The e-mail of the consulate is the best way to connect: holland@holland.is

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©Astrid Jansen