One of the reasons why so many people are against the EU and why UKIP are finding it so easy to campaign for leaving it altogether is that most don’t know very much at all about how it functions.
Just look at this snippet from a Labour leaflet we received the other day, which clearly is Better Together propaganda disguised as a European Parliament election leaflet:
Q. How does Labour make sure Scotland’s voice is heard?
A. Smaller countries have much less clout but because we are part of the UK, we have a voting block of 73 MEPs and, along with 4 other countries out of 28, we make up half of all MEPs.
The numbers aren’t wrong, but what is crucially missing here is that MEPs very rarely vote along national lines. According to this report (PDF), members of each European political party group vote together around 90% of the time [p. 10]: It adds: “The only policy area that bucks this trend is agriculture: here, the European political groups are less cohesive than on other policy issues and some national delegations (particularly the French and the Scandinavians) vote along national lines”.
In other words, the fact that there are 73 UK MEPs but only 13 Danish ones is almost irrelevant because they only rarely (if ever) vote as a block; Labour should instead be talking about how their 13 MEPs (two of which are representing Scotland) form part of the S&D’s parliamentary group consisting of 190 members from most EU countries.
Much more importantly, Scotland currently only has 6 MEPs, but as an independent country we would have 13 (the same as Denmark). This means that the S&D group would most likely contain four or five Scottish members instead of just two, dramatically increasing Scotland’s influence there. And of course the Scottish members would be free to vote together with the rUK ones whenever that would be desirable, so independence would only increase our influence in the European Parliament.