Monday 8 January 2007

Would Scotland be allowed to join the EU?

That's the question raised here:
THE SNP's case for independence was dealt a damaging blow last night when the European Commission and senior academics challenged the Nationalists' core assumption - that an independent Scotland would automatically become a member of the European Union.
As I write, there are 373 comments on this story on the Scotsman's website.

What it apparently boils down to is this: If Scotland decides to be independent, would what's left of the existing entity be deemed to be the continuing UK? I think that this is one of those "not-proven" situations, but read the Scotsman's comments.

We could argue like this. Great Britain was formed when the Scottish and English parliaments both ceased to exist in 1707 after the Treaty and Acts of Union. From then on there was one British parliament. (Wales had already been incorporated into England centuries earlier.) Similarly, in 1800 Ireland joined the union to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922 part of Ireland became independent. So if Scotland became independent, what's left would be the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. On the other hand, we could claim that Wales was effectively part of England back in 1707 and the entity with which Ireland merged in 1800 was the 1707 union of Scotland and England. If either of the two "founding father" nations secedes, the whole union must be considered at an end and therefore all successor entities would equally have to apply to join the EU, the UN, NATO, or whatever.

There are legal opinions on both sides of the argument and I have no doubt that it would all come down to politics. Yes, Spain might want to veto Scottish entry so as not to encourage the Basques and Catalans (but Spain would no longer be able to harvest our fishing grounds!) If England, or England and Wales, or England Wales plus Northern Ireland were deemed to be the continuing UK, would they veto Scotland? Probably not, but we can hope! My view is that the EU is overwhelmingly a political construct. Its purpose is to create a super-power that would rival and then eclipse the US. Would the EU like Switzerland and Norway to join? Of course. Turkey? Perhaps not.

I think that it's inconceivable that the EU would somehow stop an independent Scotland from joining the club. It's not just the oil, the fresh water, the minerals and the renewable energy. What matters is that we're part of what the EU considers to be theirs.

Of course, if Alex Salmond could guarantee that we wouldn't be allowed to join the EU, the SNP would get my vote in May.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

In response to James Highams comments and to anyone who tries to argue abut Scotlands place on the world stage as a result of being part of the UK I have only two words: 'Yo Blair'.

5 February 2007, 11:04:59 GMT
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Neil Craig
The small countriesinEurope get proportionately more votes inthe EU Parliament to stop them being drowned out by the big countries. In theory this means that Scotland would get more seats than the UK loses. However we might see France & Germany giving short shrift to that.

17 January 2007, 12:55:57 GMT
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Purple Scorpion
England should secede and let Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland sort out out residual UK. 
Presumably they'd remain members of the EU. With one bound England would be free of both of them. Then we could start campaigning for decentralised government in England. 
I don't see G. Brown putting forward any advantages FOR ENGLAND in continuing in the UK.

16 January 2007, 21:34:42 GMT
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Joe Middleton
The point is to have our OWN voice. Scotland is simply not heard at all on the international stage.  
Better a small voice that says what we want to say rather than a large booming voice which does not represent our values or political interests.  
The UK does not represent Scotland's view on fishing or anything else. On the question of the EU if we join as an independent nation we can choose to leave later at the moment we are reliant on the UK (effectively England who are by far the largest element) to make that choice for us.

16 January 2007, 14:19:24 GMT
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If the EU doesn't listen to Britain on, for example, fisheries policy why on Earth would it listen to Scotland? 
I think, the most important thing in this debacle, is why are the media being so soft on the SNP? 

12 January 2007, 13:42:23 GMT
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Andrew Duffin
What James Higham said.

12 January 2007, 12:19:38 GMT
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David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

james higham
Doesn't Scotland realize and doesn't England realize that separately, neither has anywhere near the clout which the Union had before. Margaret was the head of Britain, not a fragment of it. The EU are going to brush Scotland aside and gobble up England. This was always the plan and they played on Scottish Nationalism to get there. A house divided, didn't someone say?

11 January 2007, 19:13:47 GMT
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Andrew Duffin
"Of course, if Alex Salmond could guarantee that we wouldn't be allowed to join the EU, the SNP would get my vote in May." 
And mine, David. 
Though actually, for "wouldn't be allowed to" I would much rather see "wouldn't want to".

11 January 2007, 12:14:44 GMT
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Y is a vowel
utterly brilliant suggestions here; i love the suggestion that scotland maintains uk membership and a conservatvie england/wales/northern ireland use the opportunity to leave the eu.

10 January 2007, 19:54:42 GMT
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Mark Rigby
But where do the opt-outs go, or can they multiply? The SNP did promise a referendum on the Euro. If there is no seperate new Scottish opt out then a Scottish no in principle to the Euro is theoretically the same as leaving the EU - its a condition of membership (except for the UK). Position of all other non Euro countries is that they are signed up but reserve determination of the timing. Its only the UK which has a theoretical "never" option, which is how Major got Maastricht through the HoC.

10 January 2007, 12:19:53 GMT
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Andrew Ian Dodge
That would be interesting. Let Scotland take the EU role and England opt out. I like it and I bet Alex would love that solution as well.

10 January 2007, 10:55:25 GMT
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Without the Scottish seats for Labour, an English Tory government might just seize the chance to declare that Scotland is the successor nation and that England has thereby left the EU.

8 January 2007, 22:59:19 GMT