Non, mes amis

The good thing about forcing an issue is that you find out who your friends are. Mariano Rajoy appears to be using us as a way of beating his own people with self government aspirations in Catalonia and is relying on the agreed line that Brussels doesn’t want people who vote against the big states. And it is now painfully obvious that the European Union which has enjoyed sustained popularity in Scotland is not among them either. The wilful silence of the institutions on the real legal situation of an independent Scotland is threatening to become a cause celebre of failed democracy and contempt for the rights of European citizens.

Journalists in Brussels were first told after the SNP election win that there would be no statements from the Commission on possible future arrangements because that would be a form on interference in the domestic affairs of a Member State.

It soon became unavoidable though when the pro-EU nationalists declared a smooth transfer to full membership and those same journalists kept on asking the question.

The Commission couldn’t hold the line and had to say something to satisfy demand but as the natural ally of the Member States who are after all the club membership, it couldn’t indicate anything that would contradict the governmental view. Then in September last year after meeting Mario Monti, then the Italian Prime Minister in Rome, Jose Manuel Barroso tried to ride two horses at once, claiming he wouldn’t speak out but then did.

“ I am not going to speculate now about possible secessions, it is not my job. But I can tell you that to join the European Union, yes, we have a procedure. It is a procedure of international law,” he said.

“A state has to be a democracy first of all, and that state has to apply to become a member of the European Union and all the other member states have to give their consent.”

Pressed on whether all new countries were regarded as new states by the EU, Barroso said: “A new state, if it wants to join the European Union, has to apply to become a member like any state. In fact, I see no country leaving and I see many countries wanting to join.”

Clear? Yes, to every Unionist desperate to hear their country would be thrown out of the club of nations but to Brussels observers who read the spaces between the words, no, definitely not clear. He was speaking about existing EU rules for admitting new applicant states whereas the Scotland question relates to part of a state already in membership. No rules cover that eventuality but as the boss, he could hardly admit it, could he? Some observers think it significant that he was meeting Monti because the troublesome Lega Nord in the north of Italy is agitating for greater powers and their  members include secessionists. This pattern is repeated in other countries where sub-state demands threaten the hegemony of the big states – an historically established phenomenon which the EU has markedly failed to recognize and react to, resulting in a mushrooming problem across the continent, one Scotland is currently leading.

So this isn’t just a matter of EU rules and what Barroso calls vaguely “international law”, it is also very much a matter of internal EU politics in which the role of the leadership is to represent the interests of the governments.

Simultaneously though the myriad lawyers of the EU were working away on what might actually happen if the Scots defied the choreographed warnings and voted yes. For these purposes they did not begin with the fundamentalist position that part of a member state voting to extricate itself from a larger entity while remaining committed to Europe would automatically be rejecting continued membership. First, there is nothing in the treaties to indicate that course of action and nothing to say how a country or part of a country could be ejected against its will. In fact leaving the EU voluntarily is now allowed by treaty but they don’t make it easy. You must negotiate withdrawal and it’s subject to a vote in the Parliament.  As the former EU judge Sir David Edward says it is question of negotiating an amendment to the treaties to form the basis of Scotland’s continuing membership, a point recently confirmed by a Commission official, Mario-Paulo Tenreiro, as reported by Newsnet. He said Scotland can legally negotiate a continuation of its current membership from within the European Union following a Yes vote.

The orthodoxy also assumes that you go to the end of a queue of applicant countries who are only in a queue because they are converging their systems of government to comply with the EU requirements, while in Scotland’s case that happened 40 years ago. If there was a way of removing Scotland from membership – without any objection from any of the 28 states, including the rUK with whom Scotland will be negotiating at the time  – what would happen to the transfer of funds? Would Scotland get its money back? Would all programmes with EU funding stop overnight….for example on business and innovation alone there are currently 44 successful applications across  the highlands and island and the lowlands and uplands worth £23m. Do they just stop…do European students pack up and go…farmers hand back subsidies…companies get blocked from the single market? And, if the rUK remains in, there will be no freedom of movement between England and Scotland and, of course, Ireland.

If this fantasy of confusion ever happened what do you think would be the stock of the EU in the eyes, not just of the Scots, but of the world? An organization already notorious for its complex undemocratic institutions would be a laughing stock. I doubt if any Scot would bother applying to their Heath Robinson club after such an insult.

Which is why the little piece of analysis by Professor Robert Wright in today’s Scotsman

(see the bottom of the item) is laughably simplistic. The idea that there are strict rules covering Scotland’s case and they would be ruthlessly enforced even when it was counter productive to do so shows a lack of understanding of the pragmatism on which the EU thrives.

Wright takes the Old Guard view that Scotland has nothing to offer Europe. What an astonishing statement by an academic because, as Murray Pittock points out in the Herald, Scotland has a world-leading position in university provision and is third in the world in terms of influence of its research. And how do you grow your economy? By producing graduates who drive the next stage of development.

Put to one side the growing importance of renewables (25 per cent of EU tidal power) to Europe and the status of largest oil producing nation, does he think there is no interest in Spain in our fisheries?  Clearly not. Whereas, in fact, it is a key reason why Spain will think long and hard about any attempt to exclude Scotland because it would cause riots among its own fleet, the largest in the EU, which uses quotas in Scottish waters off both coasts. On a wider scale, the whole thrust of the EU – its very DNA – is expansion and inclusion which any move to deny Scotland would flatly contradict, causing internal EU division and global scorn. Also would Washington happily see Scotland excluded when it is desperate not only to deal with Edinburgh as a partner but to have Scotland in NATO? Any rejection by Brussels would precipitate a backlash that could mean us staying out of EU influence with a knock-on effect on NATO membership and public demands for immediate Trident removal.

Professor Wright seems to think the EU rules are hard and fast so Scotland will join the Euro because it won’t have an opt-out. Yet only 17 out of 28 EU nations are in the currency and only three have opt-outs. He is a professor of economics who can’t count. Nobody is forced to join the Euro. Again there is no such demand on membership, simply an acknowledgement that it is an EU aim.

He ends with the common presumption – that Spain, or anyone else, will have a veto. Which brings me back to the work of those lawyers in Brussels. They know the veto offers potentially a threat but it only apples to new member states. If Scotland’s accession is presented as something other than enlargement, the lawyers say the veto need not apply. Can they get round the rules? Well they did when 16 million generally impoverished East Germans joined the EU in one of the biggest “enlargements” in EU history.  They got round the problems associated with so many new citizens with genuine needs by allowing them entry under the existing West German Republic which was renamed Germany. So, despite a massive influx, as if by magic, no enlargement. Or look at Kosovo which still isn’t recognized as a legitimate democratic state by some EU countries. It is negotiating its way in to the EU and has active encouragement from the institutions which have a permanent presence in the country. Only this month EU prosecutors indicted 15 former rebels for war crimes, some of them from the party of the prime minister Hashim Thaci, in a sign of how raw the brutal past still is.  Kosovo is being nursed to meet basic standards including the critical rule of law to prepare it for joining. Compare that picture with modern, democratic, peaceful, uncorrupt, trouble-free wealthy, already-a-member Scotland. Would any organization gently nurture such a fragile fledgling as Kosovo and yet reject Scotland, brimming with rude democratic health?

The arguments against Scotland come down to politicking on one hand and strict reading of rules on the other as if there were no alternatives. I’m told the EU lawyers have found a formulation to aid Scotland’s accession but the reason we won’t hear it is that there is a contrived campaign to deny the Scots the information they need. Brussels would prefer a No vote, so would the members of the European club and we know London’s view. As a result, the EU institutions, aided by our own taxpayer-funded MEPs and assorted Unionists, are determined you won’t know the truth before you vote. This week a Commission spokesman confirmed the view that they will inform London as Member State if it presents a “precise scenario” which means in effect Scotland voting yes and London accepting the decision as per the Edinburgh Agreement.  I expect little better from the champions of limp democracy in London and their Scottish allies who refuse to ask Brussels for clarification which the Commission has promised to deliver if asked. But senior EU officials are now deliberately pretending not to hear a Member State Prime Minister make public assertions about another Member’s domestic affairs. For the EU itself to remain quiet against the interests of its own citizens is threatening to become a symbol of all that is wrong with the great project launched in the post war period by Schumann and Monnet as a vehicle for peace and prosperity in a rebuilt Europe. To knowingly deny its own citizens the information that already exits to make an informed democratic choice is a denial of democracy itself.  I’ve been pro-European all my adult life and, although I favour reform, I have remained committed in the belief that it offered a better vision than the British state…until now. Even if this produces a negative outcome for the Yes campaign, we have a right to know how the EU would treat us before we vote. To find Brussels now conniving with London against the interests of the Scots is transmitting the clearest signal that not all Europe’s citizens are equal.

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0 thoughts on “Non, mes amis

  1. Might the Secretary of State for Scotland be able to lead us towards a little more clarity on the position vis-a-vis Yes and the EU? A statesmanlike job to apply himself to, surely. What does he say to the issues you raise here?

  2. Brilliant!

  3. If I can quote Prof Sir David Edwards on the subject when he spoke in Aberdeen on “Independent Scotland and the EU”:-

    ~ “In considering Scotland membership, EU Treaties will be considered first, then International Law.”
    ~ “The “midnight hour” scenario of Scotland exiting the EU would be remarkable. It is an absurd scenario and indeed EU is obliged to avoid such a scenario.”
    ~ “Barroso’s intervention that Scotland would at some point cease to be a member is not valid. It would be illogical to instantaneously withdraw rights of all Scotland’s people to EU (eg travel, employment), and withdraw rights of EU to Scotland (eg common fisheries)”

    Of course, Spain considers that a referendum on Catlonia’s position is unconstitutional. In Scotland’s case, the referendum has been made constitutional by the Edinburgh Agreement and subsequent legislation.

    This is all about Spain, not about Scotland.

  4. cynicalHighlander

    Some things are far more equal than they wish you to believe.

    This was the nod-and-wink arrangement between Labour and Tory governments and the five per cent who owned half the wealth of all of the United Kingdom. The Labour MP turned media man, Brian Walden, described how it worked. “The two front benches [in Parliament] liked each other and disliked their back benches,” he wrote. “We were children of the famous consensus … turning the opposition into government made little difference, for we believed much the same things.”

  5. This is all bluff and bluster to frighten the horses. Come a Yes vote the RUK and Europe know that they will bend over backwards to keep Scotland in Europe. It’s the same with the currency guff. The tone will switch post Yes.

  6. Right now at the European Summit in Vilnius Georgia is discussing its route towards joining the EU. Here we are being told that an independent Scotland could not stay!

  7. Quite apart from anything else, Spain has already made clear what their get-out clause will be when it comes to avoiding cries of hypocrisy when they fail to stop Scotland being in the EU but continue to insist that Catalonia would not get in – Scotland’s independence will be consensual with rUK, whereas Catalonia are defying Spain.

    Since Scotland are in the process of becoming independent with the blessing (if you can call it that) of rUK, there is no reason for any country throughout the world to snub us. Contrast that with countries like Kosovo, who became independent through a Unilateral Declaration of Independence, thus defying the “parent” state that already has diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. In this situation, there is a worry about being seen to take sides – not a problem with Scotland and rUK, since we’ll be departing on a handshake, rather than a raised middle finger.

  8. Well said Derek Bateman.

    I have asked the EU Commission to investigate why I, as an EU citizen for 40 years, have been told by Westminster politicians and some innuendo driven rhetoric from European politicians that my citizenship is somehow on loan and second class because I was born and reside in Scotland and asked why my English born brother who resides in Scotland has therefore, seemingly a ‘proper’ claim forever to his EU citizenship. I asked whether it was a breach of my rights as an EU citizen to have that citizenship questioned merely because there was a legally approved referendum forthcoming in Scotland that follows approved democratic lines supported by the EU?

    I am either an EU citizen, or I am a pretendy EU citizen who is only classed as such if a Tory Government in Westminster or say, Alistair Darling allows it it appeared from what I am hearing and reading, and I don’t believe there is any mechanism to undo my citizenship so I wished to be informed not because of the Referendum in 2014 alone, but because the EU rules are clear that I cannot have my personal EU citizenship downgraded for political reasons and this gets them off the hook with ‘not wishing to intervene in the politics of the referendum’.

    The fact that the Spanish Minister and Barruso have intervened and muddied the waters means the EU must clarify our position as Scottish citizens within the EU.

    After a year I have had a reply saying that after a committee meeting the EU Commission has been asked to investigate and to clarify this uncertainty and that I had a good point!

    Too right.

  9. I think the personal opinions of the Spanish PM, on what are UK constitutional issues, being broadcast as indisputable fact by unionists sets a dangerous precedent. What are the man’s views on wider UK affairs?

  10. “…to knowingly deny its own citizens the information that already exits to make an informed democratic choice is a denial of democracy itself. … we have a right to know how the EU would treat us before we vote. To find Brussels now conniving with London against the interests of the Scots is transmitting the clearest signal that not all Europe’s citizens are equal.’

    Perhaps an opportunity here for Scotland’s government and those who live and work here to campaign asking the EU, as we are now even more aware of the magnitude of its democratic deficits, to lay out the benefits of membership to a democratic country so that we can decide, prior to our referendum, how we might vote in any referendum of our own on EU membership or the UK referendum that’s on the cards. I can’t think Cameron and co would be terribly pleased if we were to stoke the EU issue given his problems with his right wing.

  11. Superb, mon ami. It was well expected that such a deluge would be unleashed by the un-democratic forces of darkness. I shopped today at Beith Co-op and was assailed by PFear at the front door. What claimed to be Newspapers all had similar front pages; “Scotland will be flung out of the EU…” “White Paper in tatters after only one day…” Clearly an orchestrated response for Scotland’s voters. Interesting that English versions lead with earth-shattering revelations on game-fixing in football, down south. One wonders why London-based newspapers bother, when we’re continually told the financial drain of Scotland to the exchequer! Maybe I’ve missed something. When, in addition, a struggling Spain is called upon to join PFear – are we not nearly at the stage of declaring war on this country over that Rock? Scotland deserves better than this.

  12. I’m with November 13 mes amis. Take something, anything really, that a unionist / anti-Yes / foreign-PM-with-own-referendum problems figure says, distort it horribly, then splash it all over a sad, pathetic subservient media, in accord with the Project Fear agenda. Let the Yes campaign unpick it and repudiate it if they like, because when they do, we’ve got the next scary story waiting. Continue until September 18th 2014. Sit back and wait for No vote and enjoy a job well done.

    Except that here we are 10 months’ out, with a positive vision for independence successfully launched for Scots and the watching world, and with the latest poll showing that Yes needs only a 5% swing to take the lead. They’re losing and they know they’re losing, and they’re scared.

    Another excellent deconstruction Derek. Keep it going!

  13. “They got round the problems associated with so many new citizens with genuine needs by allowing them entry under the existing West German Republic which was renamed Germany.”

    This I think is the nub of it. The People’s Republic of Germany ceased to exist and its citizens joined the Federal Republic of Germany – so from two states to one, and that one already in the EU, so no additional state at the top table. (And EU citizens didn’t exist back then, so German citizens only).

    For Scotland, we need to get an additional seat at the top table which requires approval by all other Member States. Now we’re up to 28, I don’t think that is insurmountable. Schengen, euro etc. may be required of us in principle, but can’t be demanded in practice until we choose to be ready for them.

    There could be a risk that we get parked in a sub-state niche, with EU membership for the region and citizens and a pending application to the top table, but that couldn’t last for ever. The EU is expanding, not contracting, and won’t want to lose any constitutent parts.

    • I think it is the case that all new members must adopt the euro and possibly Schengen.

      • It’s the EU. Nothing is ever as simple as some people (Wright for example) would like you to believe.

        The UK and Ireland aren’t in Schengen. Yes, they have an opt-out. But Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria don’t have an opt-out and weren’t allowed to join Schengen. Better yet, Cyprus isn’t in Schengen either. There are rules and rules.

        As for the Euro, joining the Euro has conditions for membership. Back when the Eurozone was launched, those rules were poorly enforced. But that was then and this is now, and the conditions will be enforced. Scotland would be unlikely to meet them any time soon, just as Sweden doesn’t meet them and the Czech Republic too. Joining the Euro requires considerable work. It considerable isn’t something that just happens.

  14. Realpolitik will prevail at the end of the day and Scotland will be accepted as a member state.We have far more to offer the EU than many other current states including England.The Eurocrats must be considering a situation where an independent Scotland is ejected from the EU which in turn would trigger demands in England from the Tory right to exit as well.Cameron and his friends are playing a very dangerous game which could backfire spectacularly on them.Scotland would probably survive outside the EU as does Norway but without free access to EU markets,England is sunk.I would expect that as it becomes clearer to Westminster that a Yes vote is definitely on the cards,things will change.
    Thanks Derek.

  15. I wonder if the British Nationalists hold Señor Rajoy’s opinion in on other matters in such high regard. Gibraltar anyone?

  16. Derek as you say, “whereas the Scotland question relates to part of a state already in membership” you could add that Scotland is a state who’s Parliament reconvened 12th May 1999. Not a region. Therefore, Barroso is not trying to ride two horses at once – he knows – Scotland is a state who’s Parliament has already reconvened. So, that bit’s already done. Hence, as said the EU can’t kick us out because, as an existing state, we already meet all conditions. Plus they look crackers.

    In summary, EU lawyers have found a formulation to aid Scotland’s accession – no doubt based on Scotland is a (member) Nation state who’s Parliament reconvened 12th May 1999.

  17. There is a further point in support of the view that the outcome of negotiations following a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum will result in Scotland becoming a member state on Independence Day. If Scotland were to be expelled from the EU, and expected to apply for membership as a new state, then the Scottish Government might well feel the need to have the application endorsed by the electorate in a referendum. Although the opinion polls currently show a modest majority of people in Scotland in favour of EU membership, some of those people might take offence at the perceived insult to Scotland and oppose membership. Therefore, the EU could not take it for granted that Scotland would vote to rejoin the EU.

  18. Constitutional and legal point folk are missing – if Scotland votes ‘yes’ there is no rUK, there are only the sovereign parliaments of Scotland and England, that’s in the Treaty of Union fine print.

    If the sovereign parliament of England wants to call itself rDonald Duck it can do so but it does not hide the constitution reality it is the English sovereign parliament with responsibility for English Crown possession such as Wales or English Crown dependencies such as Northern Ireland as well as any remaining English Crown Colonies. Mr Cameron will be the Prime Minister of England. Only the English Crown is in the English Parliament which will speak to the EU and other bodies on behalf of its English Crown possessions and dependencies simply because this is all it will have a legal and constitutional right to represent.

    Question: How can the English Crown be united with itself in its own parliament and which other kingdom is it united with?

    The joint apparatus of the now defunct United Kingdom is then open to negotiation between the two sovereign parliaments as to how it is then dividdy out. Alsidair Darling admitted this was the case on Reporting Scotland when he was forced to admit any deal on a common Sterling currency zone could only occur between the two independent states, the UK Parliament has no role in the process.

    This is exactly the case Lord Cooper made in McCormack vs the Lord Advocate in 1953 that any negotiation involving, adjustment or alteration to the Treaty of Union could only be carried out by the original signatories of the Treaty, the sovereign parliaments of England and Scotland. This legal and constitutional point was conceded by the Lord Advocate on the UK Parliament at Westminster’s behalf.

    In simple terms; Better Together are talking about constitutional apples when they are actually holding prickly pears in their hands.

  19. Mibbie we should just threaten to leave when we gain independence and they will be guaranteed to block our exit!

  20. As for the concept that ‘in or out’ of the EU is a two way street and Scots have a democratic choice, what would cause the EU community to not only relegate a successful and conforming existing member country, but deny immediate access to such a resource rich country from which the EU currently draws great benefits?

    Continuing membership of the EU has always been central to the SNP’s vision for a future independent Scotland, but there is a choice available to Scots and it could backfire spectacularly on the EU if what may well be the 6th most wealthy country in the world has had enough of these shenanigans and turns its nose up? One thing’s for certain rUK without Scotland will be a very heavy drain on EU resources as it plunges ever downwards and given all of this, is there really a logical argument to oppose Scotland’s immediate entry? No? I never doubted it, but the question is, do we Scots want to be part of a system with so many basket case countries dependent on it?

  21. Commenting on the Ukraine’s deliberations over EU membership in Vilnius today, Lithuanian President Grybauskaite told reporters:

    “Everything is in their own hands, If they’re committed to integrating with Europe and if they’re going for human rights, they’re always welcome in our European family.”

    Why would the EU take a different attitude be taken to Scotland?

  22. …er …I mean “Why would the EU take a different attitude to Scotland?”

  23. Reading Derek’s excellent (as usual) article I was suddenly struck by a parallel from our history. In 1320 Scotland was, in theory at least, regarded as a part of the English state by the supra national authority of the day, the Papacy. There was recognition in Rome that the Scots had a case for independence and that the reality on the ground was that they were likely to take it whether the English liked it or not. The problem was that they didn’t want to upset the English monarchy.

    The Scottish government recognised the problem and came up with a solution. A grand petition signed by the leading men of the country to be sent to the Pope as proof of the real situation in Scotland. We know it as the Declaration of Arbroath. It worked.

    Perhaps we need a modern Declaration to be signed by the people of Scotland and sent to the EU Commission. This would appeal over the heads of the UK government directly to the very people who could provide certainty and would embarrass them into doing so.

    Can you imagine Nicola Sturgeon going to Brussels with a petition of one million signatures and demanding an answer? Could they turn her away?

  24. Great Post as usual Derek although I find it strange that no one has cited the McCrone Report and it’s conclusion on Scotland and the EEC now the EU. It states (I have taken these extracts directly from a copy of the report found online)

    “North Sea oil could have far-reaching consequences for Scottish membership of EEC because of the tremendously increased political power it would confer. Without oil other members might pay little enough regard to Scotland; her voting power would not be large and it might indeed be argued that she could exert more leverage on the Community as part of the United Kingdom. As the major producer of oil in Western Europe, however, Scotland would be in a key position and other countries would be extremely foolish if they did not seek to do all they could to accommodate Scottish interests.”

    Admittedly there is an argument to be made that the McCrone Report is a little out of date although I would argue that given the current state of the Eurozone and economies such as Greece, an independent Scotland’s political power in the EU would be amplified tenfold at the moment, given our substantial oil wealth.

  25. I forgot to add in my previous post, that the media conspicuously failed to report or mention that there was a document submitted to the Westminster Parliament last year which directly contradicts Mario Rajoy. Read it here –

    The document, dated 24th September and 17th October 2012, is a submission to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee by Graham Avery, who is identified as a “Senior Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford, Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre, Brussels, and Honorary Director-General of the European Commission”, and whose CV notes that he spent “40 years as a senior official in Whitehall and Brussels, and took part in successive negotiations for EU enlargement”. As you can see the man is an exert in his field and the EU admission processes etc.

    Mr Avery in his submission states, (it’s worth noting that the following extracts are not the full document, just the main ones that I found useful)

    “Scotland’s 5 million people, having been members of the EU for 40 years; have acquired rights as European citizens. For practical and political reasons they could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission.”

    “For practical and political reasons the idea of Scotland leaving the EU, and subsequently applying to join it, is not feasible. From the practical point of view, it would require complicated temporary arrangements for a new relationship between the EU (including the rest of the UK) and Scotland (outside the EU) including the possibility of controls at the frontier with England. Neither the EU (including the rest of the UK.) nor Scotland would have an interest in creating such an anomaly.”

    “From the political point of view, Scotland has been in the EU for 40 years; and its people have acquired rights as European citizens. If they wish to remain in the EU, they could hardly be asked to leave and then reapply for membership in the same way as the people of a non-member country such as Turkey. The point can be illustrated by considering another example: if a break-up of Belgium were agreed between Wallonia and Flanders, it is inconceivable that other EU members would require 11 million people to leave the EU and then reapply for membership.”

    “In respect of EU policies and legislation, Scotland’s citizens have a legitimate expectation of the maintenance of the status quo in terms of economic and social conditions.”

    There you have it in black and white from a distinguished expert on the EU an independent Scotland would retain membership of the EU automatically.

  26. Give me the petition and I’ll sign it.

  27. I’m not sure why we would want to remain part of the EU after this… We would be a contributor to EU funds. What would we get back? We would have to allow Spanish fisherman to fish in our waters. What’s in it for us? Norway and Switzerland do OK outside EU. They are still in EFTA, they still have the trade arrangements. Why would that not be enough for us? OK, we wouldn’t have any voting rights. But since the European Commission decides everything anyway, that’s no loss, surely?

  28. “To knowingly deny its own citizens the information that already exits (sic)”

    Who could be guilty of such a sin? Hmmmm…

    Anyhoo, it’s a wee treat watching the YESnp campaign flail about desperately trying to sound convincing on the issue of EU membership for a separate Scotland.

    From Nicola Sturgeon asserting that Scotland would automatically become a member of the EU without the need for any negotiation at all to the first minister attempting to counter the views of a man who has the power to decide Scotland’s EU membership by reading out a bit of something he found on the internet, the SNP have been nothing short of an embarrassment to Scotland.

    Thank goodness we have less than a year of this buffoonery left.

    • You are increasingly becoming a lone voice in the wilderness.

      Keep howling at the moon if it makes you feel better.

    • Just out of curiosity Grahamski, what are you going to do after the Yes vote? Will you leave the country, become a Labour candidate or just howl from the sidelines?

  29. “Thank goodness we have less than a year of this buffoonery left.”

    You intend to stop giving us the benefit of your wisdom after the referendum?

  30. Hmmmm, lessee now.

    Post yes vote for a period of eighteen months Scotland will still be a member via its association with the UK. That would be the same period in which most negotiations would take place would it not? Hence the term continuance.

    Next up who indeed would hide relevant information from the general public? Who indeed?

    This would be Westminster’s own advice on the matter from their top EU expert. It doesn’t seem to really contradict the SGs position much does it? Yet for some reason it was never splashed across the front pages of the dailies with banner headlines saying SALMOND HAS A FAIR CASE ON EU. Spooky but true.

    Lastly there is the whole point of the section 30, an agreed and amicable separation. Fairly important considering the timescales involved.

    • Lessee indeed.

      When Nicola Sturgeon claimed a separate Scotland would automatically become a member of the EU without the need for negotiations was she:

      a) Lying


      b) ignorant of the workings of the EU


      c) some other reason based largely on it actually being Westminster/London’s fault.

      • The only way to prove a lie is when the process patently fails. The SG have stated also from the get go that there would be negotiations. So if continuance succeeds (and I’ll concede ‘IF’) then the SGs position on smooth transition will have been vindicated. If it does not then I’ll concede their error in judgement.

        So you tell me were ‘varied’ supporters of the union lying when they implied Scotland would be applying from outside the EU? When patently the negotiation process will take place whilst we are still members? Are they ignorant of all constitutional workings or are they merely dishonest?

      • Oh and by the by, wouldn’t you concede since I’ve already supplied the proof that Westminster’s own advice seems reasonable?

      • Nice attempt at deflection, but eventually you’ve got to engage with the real debate.

      • I don’t know and nor do you and, frankly, it’s academic as events have moved on. I suspect that what she meant was that the EU wouldn’t kick us out and that we would automatically be members without negotiation. That refers to membership. What you talking about are the terms of membership which would have to negotiated. A fine distinction but a clear one.

  31. “The SG have stated also from the get go that there would be negotiations.”

    Simply untrue.

    Nicola Sturgeon, speaking for the SG, stated that Scotland would automatically become a member of the EU on separation without the need for negotiation.

    That is simply a lie.

    “So you tell me were ‘varied’ supporters of the union lying when they implied Scotland would be applying from outside the EU?”

    Err, no.

    They were quoting the President of the EU Commission – the man who is responsible for ensuring EU law and treaties are upheld.

    • And Nicola Sturgeon’s statement of intent seems to mirror Mr Avery’s.

      “An independent Scotland will continue to be a member of the European Union (EU) and will not have to re-apply according to Graham Avery, Honorary Director-General of the European Commission and Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.”

      Then of course there is the more recent advice of Mr Tenreiro which also states:

      “Mario-Paulo Tenreiro, who is responsible for institutional questions at the Secretariat General of the European Commission has said it would be “legally possible” for such negotiations to take place whilst Scotland remained an EU member.

      In a letter of reply, Mr Tenreiro said that whilst a change of treaties would be required – needing the approval of other members – that: “…as you say, it would of course be legally possible to re-negotiate the situation of UK and Scotland within the EU.”

      So no, there is no proven lie as yet.

      I’m still waiting for your appraisal of Westminster’s advice.

      • Nicola Sturgeon’s statement was that membership of the EU for a separate Scotland would be automatic without the need for negotiation.

        None of the selective quotes you have supplied supports that ludicrous contention..

      • I agree. As I said above there are two separate issues which Grahamski is desperately trying to conflate..

    • There is nothing in the entire body of EU treaties which provides for the expulsion of an existing territory or the removal of its inhabitants’ rights as EU citizens.

  32. Still waiting.

  33. But surely it’s grossly naive to see EU institutions as being purely legalistic? Accession to the EU is a matter of bald politics: there are some considerations in favour, and others against. The attempt to deny that Catalonia is relevant not only leads to a bizarre and pretty ugly rejection of solidarity between aspirant nations, but it also ends with the unlikely belief that existing nation states will be favourably disposed to existing nation states breaking up. They probably won’t be – from their prospective, it sets a horrendous precedent.

  34. I’ve gone back as far as I can in the old files, right back to 2007 in fact.

    Choosing Scotland’s Future a National Conversation.

    Page 22 Section 3:18 “Negotiations would also be required concerning the terms of Scotland’s (and the rest of the United Kingdom’s) continuing membership of the European Union and other international bodies to which Scotland currently belongs as a component nation of the United Kingdom. Such negotiations would necessarily involve both the Scottish and United Kingdom Governments, together with international partners.”

    Also 3:21 “An independent Scotland would continue in the European Union and bear the burdens and fulfil the responsibilities of membership. Following negotiations on the detailed terms of membership, Scotland would be in a similar position to other European Union member states of a similar size.”

    Or Your Scotland Your Voice from 2009:

    Scotland in Europe Section 8.12: “Settling the details of European Union membership would take place in parallel to independence negotiations with the United Kingdom Government, and would cover areas such as number of MEPs and weight in the Council of Ministers.”

    So when I say its been made clear negotiations have been on the board from the get go…

    Still waiting by the way.

  35. I’m afraid what Bateman writes about Germany is nonsense. There never was a “Western German Republic”, and there never was any renaming to “Germany”. There was the Federal Republic of Germany, one of the founding members of the EU, and there was the German Democratic Republic. The states of the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of German, which exists with that name still today. No new nation, no new name, nothing. The only thing that changed was that a member nation got bigger. Much like if the Czech Republic and Slovakia decided to get back together again after all – only that those two of course are both members.

    We could, in fact, have a similar situation in the future, if for example Moldova decides they want to become part of Romania – though at the moment, they are seeking to join the EU in their own right.

  36. After the relentless negativity from unionists attempting to trash the historic white paper before they’d even read it, Scotland’s future within the EU & currency issues, this piece was a pleasure to read…sensible joined up thinking. Thank you, Derek.

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