Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has indicated that she intends to do everything in her power to keep Scotland within the EU following the UK’s decision to leave on 23 June. But how would other EU states react to the prospect of Scotland staying within the EU? Paul Anderson writes on the position of Spain, which is generally viewed as having a stake in blocking Scottish membership due to the existence of independence movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country. He suggests that it is unlikely Spain would block Scottish membership given the support for it in other EU countries, but that a Spanish veto cannot be ruled out.
A week is a long time in politics. On Thursday 23 of June, 52 per cent of the British electorate voted in favour of the United Kingdom seceding from the European Union. Three days later, the Spanish electorate, for the second time in six months, went to the polls to elect a new Spanish government. The incumbent Partido Popular (PP) won most seats, 137, but is 39 seats short of an overall majority. In both cases, the future is unknown and unchartered territory will have to be navigated.
Negotiations are already underway in Spain regarding the formation of a new government, perhaps a grand coalition between the two biggest rival parties (the PP and PSOE). In the UK, however, the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron means the withdrawal of the UK form the EU will not begin immediately. If Harold Wilson was right in quipping ‘a week is a long time in politics’, anything beyond will truly seem like an eternity.
Brexit and Scottish independence
The UK is a plurinational state composed of four nations. While this was a nation-wide referendum, the differing results from the four nations have become the focus of the debate thus far. In England and Wales, over 50% in both nations voted in favour of leave. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, however, over 50% voted to remain. Is the UK’s constitutional edifice about to crumble? With calls for a second independence referendum in Scotland, Sinn Fein’s support for a border poll on the unification of Ireland, and even calls for the independence of London, several irreparable cracks have appeared in the foundations of the UK’s constitutional edifice.
Following the vote, the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that it would be ‘democratically unacceptable’ for Scotland to be dragged out of the EU when all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities voted to remain. Consequently, ‘Indyref2’ – a second Scottish independence referendum – has been put back on the table. This constitutional conundrum was one of the omnipresent issues of the referendum campaign, and early last year Sturgeon urged David Cameron to agree to a ‘double majority’ rule, as is found in other countries such as Switzerland, to ensure that the UK could not leave the EU unless voters in all nations of the UK voted in favour. In the absence of such a rule, however, the majority support for leave in England and Wales means that Scotland and Northern Ireland, despite overwhelmingly voting to remain, may now be obliged to leave the EU.
It is arguable that the Scottish government has every right to press for Indyref2 given the terms the SNP detailed in its manifesto regarding another referendum– essentially ‘a material change in circumstances’ – have now been met. And yet, the road is long. In the wake of the Brexit vote, there is, as was predicted, a renewed interest in Scottish independence.
Many voters, particularly middle class voters, voted ‘no’ in 2014 on the premise that Scotland, as part of the UK, benefited from EU membership in terms of regional funding, political clout and voting strength. In light of the EU referendum, this argument no longer stands. Following the Brexit vote, opinion polls in Scotland have already recorded a majority in favour of independence.
Another string to the SNP’s independence bow is that the EU plays a key role in the internationalist position now endorsed by Nicola Sturgeon. A post-Brexit UK has been portrayed as a ‘diminished Little Britain’, whereas Scotland, according to all parties in the Scottish Parliament, is instead to play an internationalist role: a force for good on the global stage, pro-immigration, pro-freedom of movement and pro-European.
Following the referendum result, the SNP’s Alyn Smith delivered a speech to the European Parliament underlining these points. He received a standing ovation from many of the MEPs in the parliamentary chamber. In addition, support for Scotland to replace the UK as the 28th member of the EU is not limited to the European Parliament, several politicians, particularly in Germany, have come out in favour of Scotland remaining in the EU.
Such enthusiasm, and indeed appetite, for another referendum, however, must be tempered with caution. It seems likely that another Scottish referendum is now inevitable, but what remains to be seen is whether a majority of Scots would vote to leave the UK in return for joining the EU. Despite increased talk of the likelihood of Scottish independence (and accession to EU membership), the SNP still has significant hurdles to overcome.
The economic case for independence, particularly in light of the reaction of the markets to Brexit and decreasing oil and gas prices, must be improved if a significant majority of Scots are to be convinced of the benefits of ‘going it alone’. In addition, Scotland’s currency will once again become an important, if not more important, issue. The SNP’s insistence on a currency union with the rest of the UK is a weak position in the wake of Brexit, but support for the euro equally remains feeble. Strategic long-term thinking on Scotland’s future currency is thus essential and detailed consideration must ensue.
Ultimately, while it seems perfectly plausible to conclude that a second referendum on Scottish independence is likely, the result is far from inevitable. Secession is often based on a cost-benefit analysis, and the SNP, irrespective of increased enthusiasm for independence as a reaction to Brexit, still have some intractable hurdles to overcome if they are to ensure a significant majority vote in favour of secession.
Timing will be key. The Scottish government will want to ensure a comfortable majority vote in favour of independence, able to withstand what may prove to be yet another lengthy referendum campaign. More importantly, key lessons will have been learnt from the Quebecois experience. A failed second independence vote, as occurred in Quebec in 1995, would hugely damage the SNP and may well ensure that the independence referendums were indeed a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.
The position of Spain
Article 49, whereby a European State can apply for membership of the EU, requires a unanimous decision among member states, effectively giving each country a veto over the admission of a new member. During the Scottish referendum in 2014, there was significant speculation that Spain, as well as other states such as Belgium or Italy, would veto the accession of an independent Scotland to the EU in an attempt to discourage fervent independence movements within their own borders. Given these issues are now back on the table, how might Spain be expected to react to Scottish independence following Brexit?
In reality, the chances of a Spanish veto in 2014, though not impossible, remained unlikely. Those making the argument above often pointed to the refusal of the Spanish government to recognise Kosovo as an independent state. However, the position of Kosovo was fundamentally different from that of Scotland: whereas a referendum had been agreed between the governments of Scotland and the UK; Kosovo declared independence unilaterally.
In addition, the Spanish Premier, Mariano Rajoy, went to great lengths to discourage comparisons between Scotland and Catalonia, arguing that both cases were ‘absolutely and totally different’. However, Rajoy did wade in on the debate, questioning the validity of the SNP’s position to re-join, not as a new member, but with a treaty amendment using Article 48. He dismissed these claims, instead arguing that a region that voted for independence from a current EU member state would be outside the Union and would have to seek entry via Article 49. In short, they would have to navigate a lengthy accession process to get back in.
The increasing support for independence in Catalonia, which according to some polls had reached over 50 per cent, evidently influenced the position taken by the Spanish government regarding an independent Scotland’s re-entry to the EU. While support for independence in the Catalan region has waned in recent months (currently around 39%), the incumbent Catalan government continues to seek secession, and has vowed to pursue a referendum and independence with or without the consent of the Spanish government, which hitherto has refused to negotiate on the issue.
The new Spanish government, regardless of its political hue, will be unequivocally opposed to Catalan independence, yet its position on the admission of Scotland to the EU to replace the UK has yet to be clarified. Rajoy, however, currently President of the caretaker Spanish government, has made it explicitly clear he is against Scottish negotiations, arguing ‘If the UK leaves, Scotland will leave, too’.
There are two positions the future Spanish government may take. First, it may veto Scotland joining the EU to quell secessionist aspirations in Catalonia and the Basque Country. In addition, although it would be within the interests of pro-secessionists in Catalonia for Scotland to be admitted to the EU, the lack of a Spanish veto would also result in charges of ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘double standards’.
Many Catalans have contrasted the routes taken by Spain and the UK with regard to calls for secessionism. Whereas the latter negotiated with its Scottish counterparts to ensure a fair and democratic referendum, the former has refused to enter any such negotiations with the pro-secessionist Catalan government. Should Spain not veto an independent Scotland’s membership to the EU, secessionist fires in Catalonia may become further fuelled. It is undoubtedly within Catalonia’s interest, however, that an independent Scotland become an EU member state, and would likely help bolster secessionist aspirations in the region.
But it is perhaps more likely that Spain would pursue the second option, and not veto an independent Scotland’s accession to the EU. First, as in 2014, Spain would argue that the Scottish and Catalan cases are very different. If Scotland is to enter the EU as an independent state to replace the UK as its 28th member, this would indeed be an unpreceded move, and would serve to underline the difference between the Catalan and Scottish cases.
In addition, internally the future Spanish government faces huge challenges, especially with regards to the economy. Persistently high unemployment, at over 20 per cent, economic uncertainty and corruption scandals that have even reached the upper echelons of government, not to mention the constitutional challenge emanating from Catalonia, will plague the new government’s first few months and years. The increased share of the vote and seats for the PP, compared to the general election in December, is seen as lucid evidence of the Brexit effect on Spanish voters, many of whom (74 per cent) considered Brexit as bad for the Spanish economy.
The vulnerability of the Spanish economy was a pivotal issue during the election campaign and the economic consequences of Brexit may have ensured a last-minute swing towards the PP. The recent rhetoric of President Rajoy, however, who is ‘extremely against’ negotiations other than with the UK government, certainly looks set to cause more than a few problems. Spain, at least for the moment, endorses the minority position. However, given the rumblings of support for Catalan independence, it is still arguably the member state with most to lose should Scotland succeed in becoming independent and a member of the EU. The prospect of a Spanish veto should therefore not be underestimated.
Many of the points raised here will be determined by what happens in the coming days, weeks, months and possibly years. Scotland has no official power to hold another referendum, but given the scale of the Scottish vote to remain in the EU, political circumstances may trump legal obstacles. In addition, Scotland would have to negotiate with the EU on the terms of its membership, and while there is enthusiasm on both sides (Scotland and other EU member states) for Scotland remaining an EU member, timing and details will be key.
Once a new Spanish government is formed, the executive’s position on Scotland retaining EU membership will become much clearer. However, given the influence of Brexit on the general election results, the weak and volatile nature of the Spanish economy, and the support in other European nations, such as Poland, France and crucially Germany, for Scotland replacing the UK as the EU’s 28th member state, it seems very unlikely that Spain would seek to counter this.
However, while one would expect Spain to ally with its European colleagues, Rajoy’s most recent intervention indicates this is far from certain. And therein lies the rub. Spain’s position on external affairs will undoubtedly impact upon the secessionist issue in Catalonia. The Spanish government, should it eventually decide to support an independent Scotland’s membership, will have to walk a fine line between supporting Scotland and discouraging Catalonia. For the moment, however, such support seems highly unlikely.
Membership of the EU is the centrepiece of the independence programmes of (most) pro-secessionists in both Scotland and Catalonia. In anchoring independence within the parameters of the EU, pro-secessionists seek to lessen the risks of independence and assuage negative perceptions of ‘going it alone’. The vociferous claims of national minorities demanding extended territorial autonomy or secession underline the evolving nature of sovereignty in the modern world.
We are, in the words of Michael Keating, in an era of ‘post-sovereignty’. In Catalonia, the EU is seen as having an ‘extremely flexible and pragmatic attitude in finding solutions for unforeseen problems’. The manner in which the EU deals with the Scottish question in the wake of Brexit will undoubtedly make for interesting observation, and one could suspect that the Catalan government will be watching with bated breath. A week or indeed a day may be a long time in politics, but at least, for the foreseeable future, there will not be a dull moment.
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Paul Anderson – Canterbury Christ Church University
Paul Anderson is a doctoral researcher at Canterbury Christ Church University. His main research focuses on territorial autonomy and secessionist movements in western plurinational democracies.
It’s clear that, despite your comment ” Scotland has no official power to hold another referendum, but given the scale of the Scottish vote to remain in the EU, political circumstances may trump legal obstacles.” indyref2 is all but inevitable. and that there is nothing Westminster can do to stop it. The Scottish Government does not accept that the power to hold a referendum is a matter reserved for the Westminster parliament. Neither Scotland Act makes the holding of referendums a reserved item, ergo it is allowed.
The negotiation and finalisation of the Edinburgh Agreement prior to “indyref1” was a sign of unionist weakness, not strength; the Conservative government and no doubt its legal advisers were quite aware that the legal and constitutional basis for Westminster trying to veto the holding of a referendum was by no means certain, otherwise they would certainly have done so. Political pragmatism trumps recourse to the courts, who would have been loath to embroil themselves in such a thorny issue.
In the event of a Yes vote in indyref2 (whenever it is held) it is overwhelmingly likely that the EU as a whole will act in the same pragmatic manner as Cameron’s government did with respect to indyref1. Indeed there is probably more likelihood of the EU being pragmatic and welcoming a seamless transition for Scots entry, irrespective of Spanish concerns about Catalonia. If (as some experts like Sionadh Douglass-Scott maintain) Scotland could use Article 50 rather than Article 49 to negotiate its accession, no EU state would have a veto, as Article 50 only requires a majority. the pressure on Spain to allow such a solution would be intense; on the face of it there is no up-side for the EU making Scots accession difficult simply to please Mariano Rajoy and Spanish opponents of Catalan independence.
Accession in principle could be as simple as you state. I wonder if practice might make it more difficult
– would Scotland accept the euro as its currency? If not, would Europe bend the rules and accept a (non-European and weakening) pound as an alternative?
– would remaining EU states be prepared to accept another beneficiary member, or would Scotland be prepared to make contributions?
– has anyone done the analysis of the cost of transporting Scottish goods through a future non-EU England into the single market area? Could the ultimate irony here be that for an independent Scotland to prosper within the single European market necessitates that the UK has preferential single market access as well?
I’ll try to answer your questions
1) would Scotland accept the Euro as its currency ?
no aspiring member-states has to make that choice. instead, they have to work to meet a number of benchmarks, say in terms of fiscal responsibility, inflation controls and open markets, so that in due time, they become eligible to join the common currency.
in short, they have to promise to work diligently towards eventual adoption of the euro, but NOT being forced to adopt the euro as their currency.
that’s why the Swiss Franc (not in the EU), Sweden’s Krona, Dane’s Krone, Bulgarian’s Lev, Czech’s Koruna and Romania’s Leu are keeping the value of their currencies at parity with the euro or within a tight conversion bandwith with the Euro. some because they want to join the Euro soon, others because they recognize it leads to smoother trading relations with the Eurozone.
2) would remaining EU states be prepared to accept another beneficiary member, or would Scotland be prepared to make contributions?
every member-states has to contribute to the EU budget. so the last question is a moot point.
the real issue is whether the EU would be prepared to provide more funds to a newly independant Scotland, than Scotland contributes to the EU’s budget.
well, here you make an assumption that Scotland would be in need of additional funding. it’s debatable, and not because of oil prices, but because currently the Scottish Parliament is only responsible for a marginal part of the tax-raising and spending of its budget.
once firmly in control, there is no knowing if it’d have a budget deficit (it depends on many hypotheses)
finally, EU spending is not done specifically to favor one country, but instead to develop a sector or activity THROUGHOUT the EU.
therefore, any funding that Scotland would be entitled under EU rules would be disbursed without any preferences (like for any other EU members). whether that would lead to extra spending/receipt, I do not know. but overall, on a purely bean-counting way, I’d expect it to be balanced considering that many Scottish regions are below the EU average and its investments in both education and green technology.
3) if England is out the single market and Scotland is in the EU, then there is necessity for a hard border to check goods and people, between Scotland and England.
therefore, I don’t even see the economic or logistical rational for transporting goods through England (they would have to face delays in border inspection + tariffs twice). much simpler to directly supply/export through Scottish ports in the North Sea.
the same problematic will arise with Ireland and Northern Ireland. much better to work towards the reuniting of the Island, and then create connections between Irish and Scottish producers (of food and energy)
the more “submissive” England is in its new trading relationships with the EU, the less disjunction will be created between England and Scotland. but, at the same time, the viability of a Scottish independance is a very separate issue to how England trade with the EU.
it’s a bit like comparing apples with oranges and in the end deciding on carrots. the topics are not totally unrelated, but they can still be very much isolated for the sake of coexistence/argumentation
‘3) if England is out the single market and Scotland is in the EU, then there is necessity for a hard border to check goods and people, between Scotland and England.
therefore, I don’t even see the economic or logistical rational for transporting goods through England (they would have to face delays in border inspection + tariffs twice). much simpler to directly supply/export through Scottish ports in the North Sea.’
If I am reading this correctly Starbuck, you are identifying issues for Scotland’s exports to the EU, (which is 15% of Scotland’s total exports). Passing through a hard border is indeed problematic, as you say border checks and tariffs etc…..therefore export directly from Scottish ports to avoid such regulation, not ideal, but possible……the glaring problem is the amount of trade Scotland enjoys with the rUK…..70%…which will now be subject to the very restrictions Scotland is trying to avoid. In such circumstances Scotland could not seriously entertain an ‘independence’ based on such trade relations…indeed it amplifies the trade problems post brexit by a factor of 4.
I was talking about an independent Scotland trading with the EU (both imports and exports).
let’s assume that both England and Scotland are already part of the WTO (which would necessitate custom controls between them), or even better, that Scotland is part of EFTA (very much likely) or of the EU (say within 5 years of “freeing” itself from the rUK).
England would face custom controls and tariffs when dealing with the EU and Scotland in any circumstances.
but Scotland not necessarily, if it joins EFTA (yet still able to be a full WTO member), depending on what kind of relationship with the EU it agrees to afterward (Norway and Switzerland are both in EFTA, but do not deal with the EU in the same way, with Norway having more “freer” trade)
if you take Brexiteer’s delusions about WTO and rUK for granted, then there is nothing an independent Scotland has to fear, because fundamentally the situation are the same.
I don’t agree with their rosy scenario.
because there is little goodwill in the EU or the World for England, and even less when it comes for relaxing custom border checks (look at the latest story about UK kowtowing to chinese goods contrabands).
Indeed, it’s not far fetched to imagine, that even with border controls of goods and people, Scotland could become the intermediary hub for trade between England and the EU. why ? simply because english firms would open subsidiaries in Scotland (once in EFTA or better the EU), reducing barriers to trade with the EU, while still very easily accessing their homegrown market (rUK) for both people and logistics.
now, you say that Scotland trades 4x more with rUK than the EU. yes and so what ?
did that figure somehow as an impedimetn as for why Irish, Indian, Kenyan (and pretty every other ex-colonies) decided to break free from Westminster ? last time I checked, India traded 10x times more with Pakistan than with the UK, and yet the former GDP is 10x time POORER than the UK
trade patterns evolve all the time, plus what matters more is domestic consumption.
as long as there is no trade wars and 19th century-like blockade, Scotland will experience only temporary turbulences as it reshapes its trade away from rUK, and towards the EU (for more supply security) and the World (for extra prosperity).
precisely because Scotland is much smaller (population and GDP-wise) than England, any changes in macro-economy are both much deeper and much faster.
so relative % do matter, but they are dwarfed by absolute numbers when large firms and institutional investments come to the party.
think of Scotland as a mix between Ireland and Norway, and you can see how much agile its economy can be, and is actually endowed with many natural resources (I’m thinking energy both hydro, wind and oil, as well as land minerals)
in Ireland’s case (which I’m more familiar with), the rest of the traditional economy can tank, and yet the country will still prosper as long as international firms keep their activities in … because of the size, precisely.
Scotland must apply the same as any other new member. Leave eu means eu is left. Theresa may will not negotiate a special relationship fo scotland. The spanish foreign minister has said that scotland would be at the back of the queue. Then we need the views of italy and Belgium. It will not be easy.
The fiscal deficit is 10%. This must be reduced. Oil does not belong to scotland but to britain. I anticipate years of litigation. I cannot see BOE as the lender of last resort.
There is no need to clear customs travelling through England. You just need to transport it as T1 or T2. This was created in part to allow goods to pass through switzerland before they were closer to the eu.
Finally, it would be better for scotland to wait until 20/21. See how brexit is and decide to leave if it is bad.
well there are several points to correct in your post
1) there is no “queue” when it comes to EU enlargement, there is an “accession process” to check how well in conformity with the body of laws, regulations and practices (the “acquis communautaire”) a candidate is.
this process is run in parallel, not in a first-come, first-serve patterns.
meaning that Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and say Bosnia-Herzegovina are all being considered at the same time, each being judged at different stage of completion … and maybe that’s why it may look like a queue to some (ie: because it may look like a ranking for accession). but it’s not.
let’s say, Scotland is independent tomorrow morning and the day after it officially declare its intention to join the EU.
provided no countries formally reject that application (and Spain has said it will not oppose a recognised sovereign country from applying, only an illegal break-away province), then Scotland’s start the process alongside all those countries I’ve mentioned before (Serbia, Turkey …) …. with the big exception, that’s it will a lot FASTER for Scotland to successfully comply with the EU’s acquis than say Turkey, even though the latter has been applying for the past 30+ years.
In that sense, provided that Scotland “frees” itself from rUK constitutionally, any application to the EU will be a ball in the park, say a matter of years (like around 5 years).
2) what about the fiscal deficit ? as explained before, currently Scotland is not in control of all its budget ressources, meaning that it doesn’t have the ability to tax everything it wants (like the UK does). instead she has to partially rely on Westminster to hand back some of the money that is being taken away from Scotland.
In that respect, any talk of budget deficit, when budget revenues can’t be totally accounted or controlled for is pretty much meaningless.
you can figure how much spending there is. but unless you are in full control of taxes (which only an independent Scotland can), then you can’t forecast whether it’ll be a deficit or surplus in the end.
how do you know that Scotland FOR SURE is “subsidised”, and instead it receives less than what ressources are taken from Westminster ? because remember that, oil ressources excluded, there are many items which are used/exploited by England, but which are not “paid back” to Scotland.
you can think of hydro and wind power (Scotland is generating more power than it consumes), of the nuclear naval base (which would need to be leased), corporation taxes (Holyrood would likely adopt a different tax rate and set of regulations/exemptions).
Bank of England doesn’t have to be a lender of last resort.
what currency Scotland uses in its immediate aftermath, and what it’ll use % or 10 years later can’t yet be predicted.
they may use the pound, with a band rate, for a few years to let the dust settle. then have their own currency or adopt another one (say dollar or euro).
I mean seriously, there has been something like 50+ countries who broke free from Imperial Great Britain in the 50-60. did assurances from the BoE that they would act as lender of last resort was a deciding factor AGAINST incdependence ? did that prevent them from using their own currency or one pegged to the pound (or another reserve currency) ?
3) no need to use border controls ? between England and Scotland or England and the EU ? because in either cases, you are smoking dude.
EU goods can pass through Switzerland because
a) the Swiss are part of the EFTA custom union with the EU
b) and have trading arrangements to allow transport with minimal control (not NO control, just minimal)
the UK to date has indicated that they will not join EFTA (and EFTA members aren’t too giddy about the UK barging in either), and once out of the EU, there is 0% chance of a border free arrangement being negotiated without the UK recognising the preeminence of the ECJ to settle disputes (which Theresay May has said she won’t do).
tough luck titty for no border controls between UK and EU, UK and an independent Scotland, or for EU goods going to Scotland through England (and vice-versa).
4) Sturgeon did the right thing tactically and politically by timing an Indy referendum between the conclusion of the article 50 negotiations and its ratification by the European parliament. the public will have mostly a clear idea of the terms (and the losses engendered by simply the UK walking out of the EU), as well of the near-future economic, strategic and political consequences of the Tories prioritising party over country.
After all, for the past 40+ years, the Tories have at best given more attention to England than to any other constituent member of the UK, and in practice shafted everybody for their own benefit (and the 10% richest).
the fact that Scotland has been able to endure this democratic nonsense (if not repression) for so long is to be commended. In most liberal democracy, there is an alternance and parties rule for the benefit of the all (in theory) and the majority (in practice).
only in the UK, because of the FPTP and the oversized importance of England (to the UK), does this translate into democratic tyranny for anyone not english or tory … which ironically led to the english brexit. and it’s so many times worse for all other having to endure under the yoke of Westminster.
at the end of the day, all independence movements experience governance turbulence in the first few years.
it’s unavoidable. the real question is how long and how deep the loss of economic activity has been caused. In that respect, I’ve got much more confidence that Holyrood and the SNP will make it work as seamlessly as possible …. when compared to the Brexiteer Tories how they crashland the UK out of the EU (which is not about independence, simply exiting an international organisation like the UN)
Spain mantain scotland and kosovo cases are different than catalonia cases. But, actually, spain act with fear, and it isolate beyond democratic countries.
Scotland being the UK successor state as EU member is pragmatic. This is not a time for ideological grandstanding. rUK can decide what version of EU relations it wants, from the Norway to Albania models. I doubt Spain will be too recalcitrant given the Scottish fishing grounds would remain within the EU.
There is a route Scotland could theoretically pursue to rejoin the EU if it found itself shut out by a Spanish veto or any other reason. This is the East German route. No EU country had a vote or veto to block the citizens of the GDR becoming European citizens. The German Democratic Republic (not in EU) ceased to exist and its territory and inhabitants were brought within the Federal Republic of west Germany (in EU).
It may not be realistic or likely, but Scotland could approach an EU member state and negotiate an agreement under which it would agree to become part of that state. Of course this is not compatible with Independence. Scots would have to weigh up how much their desire for independence is actually a desire for separation from England, how much the terms of the agreement respect their identity and rights as a nation, and how much membership of the EU means to them.
Like a Celtic federation with a reunited Northern Ireland ?
I agree with you that it very much looks like a fantasy project, but even if dreamt by some idealist technocrat, there could be come value in it, as it could help smoothe the reuniting between Ulster and Eire (ie: the Federation system granting more self-management autonomy than a simple representative democracy absorption by Dublin)
TBH, I don’t think that there’ll be much problems with Scotland accessing the EU if/when it separates from England.
the real question should rather be, how long after it separates ?
some commenters have mentioned Slovenia … well, it took 12 years befween independence and EU accession, and there were tremendous goodwill on the EU part (and no diplomatic opposition on the Serbs’s part)
important point of negotiations will be the delimitations of maritime zone (for fishing and oil exploration rights ofc, but also security), another will be the share of the legacy debts of the UK (assumed to be divided by population’s share).
but just as important will be security and border policing questions.
one of the most important reasons for England to conquer/subdue Scotland was to be in sole control of the British Islands and thwart any risks of sea/land invasion.
with an independent Scotland leaning towards the EU and a potential reunited Ireland, member of the EU, that whole strategy becomes invalid. that would force England to cooperate much more intensely with European’s defense apparatus. it’d also mean foregoing its so-called “transatlantic bridge” diplomacy (not because of anti-US policy, but because England became irrelevant as a policy-maker in Europe)
these are some of questions that England will wrestle gravely when deciding whether or not to agree to Scottish independence (irrespective of the ballot’s results), and on what terms Scotland can leave the Union.
Whilst much of what you write is very informational and interesting, you state “England to conquer/subdue Scotland”. Perhaps you can cite the relevant historical basis for such a comment.
I won’t go into each and every events in details. suffice to say that from the norman conquest to the last armed insurrection of highlanders, there has been 700 years of warfare between Scotland and England. With England, ultimately more interested in power centralisation, british isles conquering and using every tools at its disposal for such a goal.
I honestly don’t understand what is so controversial about that statement : first it started as a kind of defensive warfare, and as more lands up northumbria got annexed, it kept on going, til the economic and political difference in power made it overwhelming.
Starbuck. I have a few observations re your last post.
Debt – the successor state is solely liable. The rUK will I would assue seek successor status. Anything an iScortland takes will be negotiated. Both asset and liabilty will be negotiated.
Maritime boundaries – Already in existence and bound by international law. rUk has no justifiable claim in the North sea.
Permissions – If the soveriegn will of Scots is for an independent state, there is no political obstacle that “England” could place that could prevent such occurance.
Also please read up on history pre 1707. No one was “conquered” or “subdued.”
HI JR Euan
In general, I’m pleasantly surprised when negotiations can be smoothly concluded.
In my practical experience, no matter how smiling each side is, they are neither quick nor easy.
I sincerely wish that an exiting Scotland could have the kind of easy ride from a nationalist and vindictive England, but I somehow I doubt it. Especially if the Tories are in charge and the rUK is mired in a depression following Brexit.
All well and good but living here in Germany the EU is as popular as Miss Sturgeon. The EU itself is a bit like the Titanic it is holed below the waterline and is slowly sinking. The media is seeking to shape opinion instead of reporting fact but the people are not buying it Scotland be careful what you wish for. Germany can’t sustain EU on its own. If one more paying member quits then it could get interesting.
While I am far from an expert on these things I’m sure that if the Spanish became pig-headed about Scottish EU membership the Scots have leverage. Since Spain’s objection is based around fueling independence movements in Catalonia and Basque regions, an independent Scotland blocked from EU membership by Spain could tell the Spanish it will recognise Catalonia and Spain as independent countries. That should shut the Spanish up. That should do more to embolden independence movements than Scottish membership of the EU.
Independence will never happen for Scotland. The ebc and the British media have got the sweaties cowed and terrified to go it alone.
Spain the non democratic country