Calum Crichton is a student at Strathclyde University studying Finance. He supports a strong United Kingdom and believes that Scotland is economically, socially, and politically stronger within the union. He authors his own blog, from which this article is cross-posted.
On Monday the Foreign Affairs Committee began its inquiry into the foreign policy implications for a separate Scotland.
Of particular interest was the evidence provided by Dr Jo Murkens from the London School of Economics & Political Science, Professor Matthew Craven from the University of London, and Professor Robert Hazell from the University College London, who discussed what the likely situation would be with an independent Scotland, rUK, and the EU (the later interviews focussed mainly on the implications for rUK).
You can watch the full video of the parliamentary inquiry here, but here is a summary of the main discussion points, upon which there was full agreement among all the professors.
Q: Would there be a dissolution of the UK?
A: No. Dissolution implies means reverting back to 1707 with just Scotland and England, but this is not realistic because of Wales and Northern Ireland. In any case, it does not correspond to international practice. Russia was the continuing state after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The international community recognises rUK as continuing state as it creates political stability. An independent Scotland would have to start with a clean slate.
Q: Would Scotland automatically inherit EU membership?
A: No. An independent Scotland would have to reapply – it would not automatically be a member. The reason for this is because rUK would assert itself as the continuing state and be recognised by the international community as the continuing state. An independent Scotland would be a new country and this would have repercussions for the details of the EU treaties which would require a treaty amendment and approval from all member states. There is nothing automatic about that process.
However, there is no doubt that an independent Scotland could become a member of the EU. The EU project is about enlargement, and given that EU law already applies in Scotland it would be an easy addition to the EU project.
Q: Would an independent Scotland have the same opt-outs currently enjoyed as part of the UK?
A: No. A condition for new EU member states is to adopt the euro and be part of Schengen. There have been no exceptions to this, and despite numerous requests, none have been granted. The remaining state of the UK would keep its opt-outs from the euro and Schengen.
It means that a European national could travel to Scotland without showing a passport. But if they wanted to go to England then they would need to pass through border control. As a consequence of an independent Scotland being part of Schengen while the UK was not, there would need to be an internal border between Scotland and rUK.
Q: What influence would an independent Scotland have at the European Union?
At present the UK has 29 votes in European Council. If Scotland left there is no reason why rUK couldn’t continue to have 29. Looking at comparable countries in size – namely Denmark, Finland, and Slovakia, Scotland would likely have 7 votes.
However, a more interesting dynamic is what would happen to the MEPs. At present Scotland has 6 while the UK as a whole has 78. But comparable countries such as Denmark and Slovakia have 13. So if Scotland automatically remained in the EU, as the SNP say, then it would have 6. But if Scotland had to reapply (as would almost certainly be the case) it could argue for a greater number. The problem here is that the number of MEPs in the European Parliament is capped at 750 (plus the President). Therefore, an increase in Scottish representation to 12 would likely result in the UK’s representation being decreased to 72.
Q: Would there be a fast-track avenue for Scotland?
A: Possibly. Any application would likely be fast-tracked if independence went smoothly. If the UK government facilitated Scottish independence and assisted Scotland joining the international community then there should be no problem.
However, there would also be a European dimension as an independent Scotland would be a new country not just in a British context but a European context. If Scotland willingly adopted the euro, Schengen, and raised no issue about the tax rebate or structural funds, it would be fast-tracked. But if Scotland decided to pick and choose what it wanted (for example become a member of the EU whilst receiving an opt-out from the euro and Schengen, or if it wanted to renegotiate fisheries and structural funds) it would take longer as other European countries might not be pleased about this and would want a say in this process.
Q: Would other countries, in particular Spain, veto Scotland’s membership?
A: At present Spain is not saying anything about the issue as it is not a domestic concern. However, Scottish independence would set a precedent for a potential separation of Catalonia from Spain. As a consequence, it could very much depend on the attitude Scotland brings to the table. If Scotland willingly adopted the euro, Schengen, and everything else that comes with it then there wouldn’t be too much of a problem. But if Scotland made things awkward by playing pick and mix then it could trigger a veto from Spain or any other European countries concerned about their own separatist movements.
The Euro? Schengen? No thanks!Share on Facebook