Although some nationalists have at times hand-waved the problem away, I have for a long time been convinced that an independent Scotland might find it hard to be allowed membership of the EU (even though refusing it would be ludicrous, given that Scotland has been part of the EU for my entire life), simply because Spain is afraid that Catalonia and Euskadi might leave, and they want to make the independence option seem as unattractive as possible.
I was therefore extremely relieved to see this article in EUbusiness that states that majority voting will be sufficient to give Scotland a seat at the European table:
Lawyers for the EU said an independent Scotland could be treated as one of two successor states, and that a separate seat for Edinburgh would require only a majority vote among member states.
At the European Council, where leaders stage decisive summits, a deal could be “done by the Council, using qualified majority voting and with the required say-so of the European Parliament,” said one of those lawyers.
Standard procedure for external accession candidates such as Croatia, which enters in 2013, involves the unanimous backing of all EU governments.
I don’t see any reason why Scotland should fail to get a qualified majority backing its membership application, so this is excellent news!
I’ve blogged before about the fact that Scotland on its own has a very normal-sized population within an northern European context.
It’s quite illustrative to look at all the member states of the European Union (logarithmic scale):
Scotland (the small pink column) is slightly smaller than the average, being of almost exactly the same size as Denmark, Slovakia and Finland, and somewhat more populous than Ireland.
Interestingly, the graph also says something about England’s reluctance to let Scotland leave: While Germany is by far the most populous country, the current UK and France are competing for second place; however, without Scotland, both France and Italy have significantly larger populations that the Rest of the United Kingdom (rUK) – I’m sure this relegation won’t go down very well in certain quarters.
Most people have assumed that an independent Scotland won’t introduce passport controls at the Scottish-English border.
I’m sure that’s not the intention, but as a blog posting on Better Nation pointed out today, Scotland will probably have to join Schengen at some point post-independence, simply because England will be seen as the continuation of the UK, so Scotland will be treated as a new EU member, and they generally don’t get many opt-outs (which will also mean that Scotland will eventually need to join the Euro).
Personally I’d be delighted if Scotland joined Schengen, given that we tend to travel much more often to Schengen countries (such as Denmark, Germany, France and Italy) than to England. Who knows, it might even convince the English to join, too.
Writing this blog posting, I was a bit surprised that I couldn’t find a realistic mock-up of what Scottish passports will look post-independence, given that the layout of EU passports is heavily regulated.
It didn’t take me long to make one myself in the Gimp, though. I made the assumption that it’ll be the lion rampant that will be on the front page, although it might of course be some other emblem.
The LibDems said at some point that one should only hold a referendum on a topic that one is in favour of. And so they supported a referendum on the European Constitution (which they’re in favour of), but oppose one on Scottish independence (which they are against). A bit strange that they abstained on the question of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, though, given that they were in favour of that, too. Makes you wonder whether the principle is fully set in stone.
Labour seems to be of the opposite opinion: They were against a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (which they supoorted), but they now seem to be in favour of a refendum on Scottish independence (which they’re against).
I actually tend to agree with Labour here: A party is voted into power to implement their policies. It therefore doesn’t need a referendum to get a mandate to do so. However, if there is something the party doesn’t want to do, but that is very popular in the wider population, it can make sense to hold a referendum to defuse the issue. It’s a bit masochistic, though, and most parties would prefer to delay the issue instead.
I’m not very fond of referendums anyway. They tend to be about everything else, and they often get quite emotional. And in many cases, the major parties can only really live with one result, which tends to provoke the electorate to vote for the other option in spite.
I tend only to support referendums on topics that transcend political parties, such as Scottish independence. I am looking forward to that one, just like Bendy Wendy! 😉
There’s an interesting article in The Scotsman today by George Kerevan.
He argues that the Bank of England, and therefore the British pound, tends to focus far too much on the needs of the City of London, rather than looking at the whole country and trying to balance the needs of all the regions.
I think he’s absolutely right, but while his recommendation is for the Bank of England to change, I’d prefer Scotland (and the rest of the UK) to join the Euro, given that the ECB does look at all parts of the Eurozone when making decisions. In other words, Scotland would not suffer a loss of influence at all by replacing the pound with the euro, just the opposite.
There is an article in The Herald today about how Scotland is routinely being ignored by Westminster in EU matters: “Scotland’s interests are being routinely forgotten, ignored and dismissed by Whitehall officials when they seek to influence policy and law-making in Brussels, according to a leaked government report.”
The current arrangement clearly doesn’t work. I think the best solution would be Scottish independence, but a fully federal UK (as proposed by the LibDems) might also do the trick.