I’m unanimous about this

By the way…I know EU membership rules have to be unanimous. See Rule Britannia below. But that’s under existing accession rules which relate to new states. My source says that there is a case for Scottish exceptionalism in that Scotland is already in and therefore not an accession state. It will  be treated differently and the lawyers – in the Council – have a draft agreement worked out for Scotland which they say meets the legal criteria. This formulation does not require unanimity because of Scotland’s existing status. All this could be thrown out by the member states after a Scottish application but in the meantime they have devised a clever and effective route for Scottish inclusion which should meet everybody’s requirements – even Spain’s if it decides to vote against as a warning to Catalonia. (This is not coming from an SNP source but from a senior EU figure. Obviously not Barroso.)

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0 thoughts on “I’m unanimous about this

  1. Wow! Do tell lol…

  2. OK, interest well and truly piqued. 🙂

  3. Never seriously thought there was a problem, just another dead end for BT to carp about. Good revelation though.

  4. I’d be surprised if that advice ever emerged – though not completely surprised, the EU is a highly political agglomeration (witness the countries that made it through the euro selection

    The relevant bit of the Treaty is Article 49, and the Treaty doesn’t get changed quickly or easily:

    “Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union. The European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be notified of this application. The applicant State shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the consent of the European Parliament, which shall act by a majority of its component members. The conditions of eligibility agreed upon by the European Council shall be taken into account.

    The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”

    The Treaty only refers to European states, not to accession states, so I’d imagine a new state would be caught by the process. It would probably be pro forma (except, possibly for the Council vote) with the main emphasis on the new state having the institutions in place needed to be a Member State, things like statistical bodies, but also very likely a central bank:

    “The acquis related to economic and monetary union requires the presence in each Member State of an independent Central Bank.”


    Whatever the arguments for a currency union, or even EU membership, I think we’d need a central bank for Scotland.

    • The EU was somehow able to allow in the entire population of the former GDR in 1990 (16 million people, along with their completely crocked economy and infra structure) without the requirement to ask any of the other member states, by say, putting it to a vote on internal enlargement for instance.

      They did not even require the Germanies (either one) to hold a ‘legally binding referendum’ to ensure they were following the democratic will of the affected population, who were to become EU citizens by reunifying with a member state. (Sounds like the reverse, but mirror image, of re emerging as a Nation state, doesn’t it?)

      Seems pragmatism is certainly their watchword, and the necessary legal requirements always seem to follow right behind the most pragmatic political solution.

      Now, what do you think they would feel about losing an energy rich, wealthy, northern European, net contributing country whose 5 million population have already been EU citizens for 40 years and whose legal system and trade mechanisms have been integrated into EU law for just as long, given an 18 month wiggle room as a negotiating period to come up with an inventive legal solution such as Derek has written of? Add into that the re emergent nature of our historic Nationhood and I don’t think the answer is difficult is to divine?

      Just as rUK will be accepted as a successor state, so will Scotland. All changes to representation and The council of ministers will be considered an internal organisational matter and will therefor not require a unanimous vote (just as it was not required with the GDR).

      That’s pragmatism and that’s the EU.

      • I agree that EU is likely to find a pragmatic solution, even if rules get leaned on a little. I’d imagine the pressure on Spain et al would just be too great – independent existence outside the EU zone isn’t what the EC would like to see – Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are being slowly drawn in, as is Turkey.

        I think we’d need the trappings of state – stats office, central bank, currency etc. to qualify – but other elements are already in place.

        German reunification is a different case though, The Germans had to give up the Deutschmark to swing that, as a way of binding Germany further into the union.

      • If you ask the FT’s journalists in Brussels, they’d tell you that there really isn’t a deadline for negotiation. The EU Commission, it has been said (in the FT, here http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2fd7b0f6-1f8a-11e2-841c-00144feabdc0.html near the end) have a cunning plan. And that plan – you’ll have heard this phrase before – is for Scotland to negotiate from within the EU.

        If the FT folks are right, Scotland could join the EU automagically with no fuss and no muss. The changes would be kept to an absolute minimum, so as to avoid the fuss and bother of significant and troublesome treaty negiotiations on matters which would affect other member states. That would mean no reapportionment of European Parliament seats until the next one was due (unless, as might happen, Scotland and rUK agreed a deal sooner). And no Scottish seat on the Commission right away. And observer status at the council of ministers (again, unless Scotland and rUK agreed otherwise in some cases, perhaps as regards fisheries and oil).

      • I’d agree re pragmatism – especially if there is no direct cost to the EU institutions. I think if Scotland gets all the apparatus in place (central bank, stats office, etc.) there will be no other legal or economic criteria to meet to join as a new state. However, as a new state Scotland would be joining the top table – the European Council – and the existing Council members would need to take a unanimous vote on that, as per the Treaty.

        The East German example isn’t really useful as a precendent. It was actually de facto included in the Community because Germany’s basic law allowed for its reach to be extended over any German state that wanted to come under it. The European Council approved this move, rather than using the Community treaties,at the Dublin summit in 1990. As there was no new member joining the Council (only increased representation in the Parliament), and Germany would be picking up most of the cost, tensions were smoothed over – and they were present. It is often considered that the price of German unification was the single currency (also approved in principle at Dublin). European citizenship didn’t then exist (it came into being with the Maastrich Treaty, 1992), and Germany waited until 2004 to get an increase in MEPs..

  5. Related to this, I’d grown up with the belief that the Unied Kingdom was the union of Scotland and England and that if Scotland left, the union and the United Kingdom would cease. I think my belief was at least half right, but I’m struck by the fact that other Europeans simply don’t care – for them the UK would continue as England+. I suppose it is a similar situation for with secession from Germany (Saxony, Bavaria even?) or Italy (Sicily?), however they were put together, for outside observers their most recognisable political countours would remain.

    Which is no doubt a testament to the centralising powers of states everywhere.

    • Stagiaire,
      try an example with one third of the countries land mass and an even greater percentage of it’s natural resources and coastal waters.

      The EU will certainly take the historic formation of the UK into consideration when looking for the easiest, least painful and most pragmatic solution posed to it by a democratic vote of the Scottish people for self determination. A vote already ratified by the current EU member state government of the UK in the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement.

      The legal manner in which the UK will break up is rooted in the legal manner in which it was created. It seems incredible wishful thinking to think that the outside world will not consider this when adjusting to the new reality.

      Especially as member states such as Spain are already explaining to anyone who will listen, just how constitutionally and historically unique and so different, Scotland’s situation is to Catalan and Basque ambitions of self determination.

      • I don’t disagree with that – it’s the fact that the effective creation of another new state, in addition to Scotland, comprising the regions that make up the rest of the UK isn’t considered. Instead, this new state will shuffle on the rather threabare gown of the former United Kingdom, and apparently call itself the UK…

        Even in the case of the USSR, the surviving rump at least changed its name!

      • stagiaire,
        Thanks for your reply, very interesting conversation. I understand that the GDR example is not an exact precedent by any means. The point I was making in raising it, was the manner in which the EU approached the (real) problem it faced, dealt with the worries of its member states and came up with a pragmatic solution deemed legal.

        The EU is, was and has always been, an expansionist organisation. That is how it approaches decision making.

        To view the rUK as the sole successor state (ignoring it’s one third diminished geography and even greater loss of natural resources) would mean, as you say, viewing Scotland as a new applicant country. That would risk the EU losing 5 million citisens, one third the UK members land mass, access to it’s coastal waters and the net contributions it makes to the overall organisation.

        All that, while sending out a giant political message that ‘leaving’ the EU is certainly not the impossible feat it once appeared (a legal mechanism to remove Scotland’s Citizenships would have to be produced [treaty amendment perhaps] as at the moment none exists).

        I am living in Portugal at the moment and I can assure you that such an amendment would be leapt upon by the many anti EU/Eurozone political voices now beginning to be heard, as austerity measures really start to bite. I am confident this is not a phenomena limited to Portugal but will be common to all those Southern troubled EU economies.

        That, I would say, is what was behind the tortuous nature and two years of negotiations ‘required’ for Greenland to finally leave the EU after gaining self determination from the member state of Denmark back in 2008 and overwhelmingly voting democratically to exit. This is how the EU dealt with the concept of losing ‘territory’ as recently as 2008, and with country technically in the North American continental shelf, not even Europe’s!

        So I think It’s safe to say that the EU will avoid the entire issue by simply declaring BOTH rUK and Scotland as Successor states. Both will be treated equally. Both will renegotiate MEP numbers and Council of Ministers membership (even if that means a temporary fudge of some sort) from within their accepted and current membership of the EU.

        The EU will then use the weight of rUK’s possible exclusion, to enforce (and ensure) complete member states agreement to both rUK and Scotland continuing as existing member states, without the requirement of unanimous voting.

        After all, It is already firefighting the possible accession of the UK from the EU after the promised Tory Party IN/OUT referendum in 2017. It will certainly not want to make that possibility seem any more feasible than it does currently.

        Sorry for the length of the post. (embarrassed smile)

  6. SSHHH don’t tell Grahamski 🙂

  7. Surely nae Derek……

    I may just be an dumb Aiberdonian wearing a Tin Foil Hat…..but this might explain why Westminister is less than keen to go to Brussels for an answer to the European question and help clear up some of the uncertainty they are always banging on about….

    I assume the same sources have also been whispering in Westminister ears and not just yours……it would be a tad embarrassing if Westminister’s ‘water tight’ legal case about Scotland being papped out being well……sunk.

    Far better to maintain the Big Euro lie going……..

    I don’t suppose your source would consider accidently leaving this document beside an Indy friendly Journalist in a bar/expensive restaurant of their choice ;-)…..I’m sure we could crowd fund the tab 🙂

  8. Bravo, Derek.
    The case of the former East Germany is what has always convinced me that pragmatism will prevail and a way will be found, but it`s great to see that it`s being discussed at all at this level, never mind a potential solution found.

  9. Of course, don’t bother asking us whether we want to join a union that sees continuing centralising of power and is that is currently negociating a fiscal unity treaty. Don’t bother asking us if we want to join a union that takes away some of the levers that we would have won. As for the Euro, well your guess is a good as mine as to whether John Major’s Maastricht opt out will still apply to a new country.

    Sorry if i come accross all Bitter Together, but really what’s the point of Independence if you give it up… nay surrender it to an even bigger union that is even more undemocratic, and has a bigger “expenses” problem than the one we have just left?

    • Allan,
      we are already in the EU, or have you not noticed?

      The ONLY way Scotland’s electorate will have it’s voice heard in a decision to remain part of, or leave the EU, is by returning sovereignty to it’s people via a YES vote in September.

      Of course that only matters if you want that decision to reflect the democratic will of the Scots electorate. They may well vote to remain within the EU after all, who knows? I am more than happy to argue my preference from within an independent Scotland, come the time, and will absolutely abide by the decision of the electorate whatever they decide. How about you Allan?

      Because, I am getting the distinct impression, that many on the anti EU side would rather continue to forego Scottish democracy, in the hope of drifting out of the EU on the coat tails of an increasingly anti European English majority no matter what Scotland’s electoral view is on the matter.

      Or am I reading you all wrong?

    • Allan, if we assume that a deal will be done which allows Scotland to go straight from being part of the EU as part of the UK to being a member state in her own right, at the moment of independence, then no refendum on EU membership is needed. We will not be joining the EU, just improving our status within it.

      Ad for the Euro, remember that the EU’s own rules insist that a country must have its own currency, signed up to ERM2, and then meet convergence criteria for at least two years before it can be allowed to adopt the Euro as its currency.

    • Allan…..

      Democracy doesn’t end in Scotland on Sept 18th 2014 with a YES vote……if you want to vote for a Political Party that would withdraw from the EU or hold a referendum on membership you will be free to do so….

      And if that party gets enough votes and seats to be part of any future Scottish Govt. then you’ll get your wish….democracy ye ken !!

      I guess it all depends on how you see the EU, personally whilst I acknowledge it’s many flaws you point out I still think on balance membership is a good thing….and I’d argue it’s a far more flexible and responsive form of political union than the one we are in…..almost every EU State interprets the many EU Treaties as it sees fit and the EU is perfectly fine with and accepts this.

      They made a complete bollocks of the Euro right enough….but that’s a different kettle of fish….and to date no country has been forced to join against it’s will.

  10. This sounds suspiciously like the tripe that a certain nat journalist who worked in the EU was trying to punt ages ago.

    If memory serves the only folk who took him seriously were some swivel-eyed nat blogs and one Radio Scotland news review show.

    Can’t quite remember who the presenter on that show was….

    • At least someone took him seriously… whereas you, the king of negativity on the other hand… well.. 😉

    • cynicalHighlander

      A singular status

      A better analysis of the politico-legal reality comes from Sir David Edward QC in his blog “Scotland and the European Union”: in the event of a Yes vote, it will not be necessary for Scotland to accede to the EU as a new state; it will be a question of negotiating an amendment to the treaties to provide for the basis of continuing membership for both Scotland and rUK.

  11. In truth I prefer the Norway route, we can be involved in the EU without major losses and trouble and be able to trade freely with anybody really!. While we would retain our seaboard and many other things. I think Scots would like that.

  12. Les Wilson,
    I agree, but we will start where we start. Which is as a full member of the EU but outside the eurozone. It will then be up to our democratic voice as a Nation to set our future course. Very exciting times and I really can’t wait !

  13. Ah! the dwlusional, flatulent one from Falkirk rises from the effluent. One wonders why ??

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