2007 - 2021

EU’ve Been Framed


If scaremongering wasn’t enough, the No campaign have now decided to plunge into the absurd. According to Alistair Darling an independent Scotland could be forced to wait nine years before becoming a full EU member state. His comments smack of deceit and desperation. The former chancellor is well aware that the sole purpose of the EU accession process is to bring the national laws of new member states in line with European laws. Scotland already transposes EU legislation and meets the full acquis communautaire. A detailed scrutiny of the 35 accession chapters would be unnecessary given that Scotland has applied the EU’s policies and regulations for the past 40 years.

As Scotland would negotiate with the UK post referendum, parallel negotiations would take place with Brussels on our EU membership. Following an agreement of the European Council, the Treaty on European Union (TEU) would be amended to include the word ‘Scotland’ in the preamble. A simplified negotiations procedure would be agreed, similar to the process used during German reunification. Considering the average length of time it takes all Member States to ratify an EU treaty, we’d be looking at a period of around 12 to 18 months. It would be in the EU’s interest to ensure that this process was in place simultaneously with Scottish independence – by the spring of 2016.

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union completely rubbishes the unionist argument that you can be thrown out of Europe upon independence. It would take longer for Scotland to leave the EU – a period of around two-three years, as evidenced by Greenland – than for it to agree on its negotiated independent status. Article 50 alludes to a period of two years to negotiate withdrawal from the EU. A series of legal, financial, budgetary and administrative obligations would need to be unraveled and such a process would take time.

And then there’s the question of citizenship. Aidan O’Neill QC argues that once EU citizenship has been granted to citizens through the Member State, it is extremely difficult to remove it – as evidenced by a number of high profile European Court of Justice Cases. It’s simply not credible to suggest that five million Europeans would be suddenly stripped of their rights. Scotland would have the power to take the matter to the Court of Justice if it felt it was unfairly treated.

It wouldn’t be in Brussels’ interest for Scotland to be excluded from the club even for a single day. What would happen to the thousands of students from across the continent who freely study at Scottish institutions? What would happen to Spanish fishermen who make a living from Scottish waters? Would the EU, in difficult economic circumstances, seriously reject a net contributor to the EU budget?

What the No campaign fail to understand is that Europe is a pragmatic animal. It’s the world of fudge. Political will always takes precedence over process (or lack of process). Throughout the EU’s history, rules have been sidelined in the name of political solidarity and unity. Without the European fudge Italy and Greece could never have joined the Euro (their debts were well above the 60% benchmark in 1999); Romania and Bulgaria would have failed entry requirements on several grounds of corruption; East Germany wouldn’t have been absorbed without a full and lengthy accession process and France and Germany wouldn’t have got away with breaking the growth and stability pact whenever they felt like it.

And no matter how bad the economic crisis gets in Athens, Brussels will always stand by Greece’s right to remain in the Euro. That’s the spirit of solidarity that the EU is constructed on. For a Nobel peace prize union founded on the principles of democracy to eject its own citizens for expressing their right to self-determination would be the greatest political contradiction in modern political history.

Indeed not only does Europe champion integration – it champions expansion. That’s why considerable effort is being made to support the entry of the Balkan states including Montenegro and Serbia, countries with a deep and tortured history of nationhood and self-determination, while on July 1st Croatia will become the second former Yugoslavian state to join the EU. It is also widely accepted that the 2004 landmark accession which integrated 10 Eastern European countries all at once was very much driven by the political significance of uniting East and West rather than ensuring each individual state was ready for membership.

For decades Scotland has been influenced by anti-European British propaganda, hostile media and British Prime Ministers reluctant to engage with Europe. Over the past 40 years we’ve been out on the edges – never shaping the European debate but simply reacting to it. Independence will give us a unique opportunity to rid ourselves of a Westminster-imposed isolationist agenda. Like Ireland – the current holder of the EU Presidency – Scotland has the potential to lead in Europe. With its own distinct dynamic on European engagement, its own priorities and specific needs, we’ll be in a better position to protect our national interest while making a constructive contribution to the direction of the continent we live in.

Scotland, unlike Westminster, is not turning its back on Europe. It’s not seeking a renegotiation of its membership. The Scottish Government’s commitment to the EU couldn’t be clearer. But the No campaign would have us believe that Brussels will reject the very UK nation that actually champions European engagement. God loves a trier.


Comments (10)

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  1. Doug Daniel says:

    Good article Toni, particularly the bit about the accession process being about meeting certain criteria which Scotland already meets.

    I do wonder about people when they talk about how long it’ll take to do this and that. There seems to be this idea that international treaties and processes have these seemingly arbitrary waiting periods built into them. It’s disappointing (but not surprising) that the media accepts Darling’s “nine years” rubbish without asking the most basic question: “WHY did it take that time for other countries?”

    I’ve already sent a suggestion to YesScotland that their next “answering your questions” release be about detailing why it is that Scotland won’t need to spend years haggling our way into the EU, with emphasis on the Copenhagen criteria and the acquis communautaire. This article would make an excellent starting point for that.

  2. florian albert says:

    ‘Europe is a pragmatic animal. It is the world of fudge.’ This is only part of the story. It is also a world where many individual states and nations count for little. If you vote against the wishes of the Eurocrat Establishment, you are required to vote again and come up with a
    different result. Ask the Irish what happened when they voted against the Lisbon Treaty. It is also a world which has its own agenda; further integration. Independence for Scotland – and, more importantly, the possibility of independence for Catalunya – is seen as a threat to the project. Thus, powerful people such as Barroso make it clear that they are hostile to Scottish independence. This might be unfair – personally, I think it is – but when was life fair ? There are powerful people who are hostile to an independent Scotland. Responding to this by saying ‘God loves a trier’ wont do.

    1. Linda Kasim says:

      I agree with what you say about the EU. I hope that Alex Salmon can change the way we deal with the EU as I know that most people are fed up with the way that they rule us. We should only be trading with the EU and ruling ourselves, that is why we are going for independence

      1. Smokeball says:

        Quite right. The desciption of he EU in the article isn’t much of a recomendation for it. “Without the European fudge Italy and Greece could never have joined the Euro (their debts were well above the 60% benchmark in 1999); Romania and Bulgaria would have failed entry requirements on several grounds of corruption; East Germany wouldn’t have been absorbed without a full and lengthy accession process and France and Germany wouldn’t have got away with breaking the growth and stability pact whenever they felt like it.”
        Is this what we want to be a part of? It is an emerging empire and the little people, and little nations, won’t have any meaningful voice.

  3. Now me I thought that as the United Kingdom signed on all countries of the United Kingdom,we were already fully fledged members.Of course if the United Kingdom only signed for Westminster then that is different.Simply for me,one group of countries i.e. a union,joins with another union then surely the union signed on behalf of each country.

  4. Indion says:

    ‘ According to Alistair Darling, an independent Scotland could be forced to wait 9 years before becoming a full EU member state. ‘


    Did the disposable dummy or his dog say or write that nonsense verbatim? If you have a mo, please provide a link to the reference in case I wasn’t the only one who missed it.
    If he can be hauled before the court of public opinion via a Holyrood committee to defend his contrived assertions, so much the better.

    The pair are ‘No’ more than front men for a lowest common denominator clearing house cum non-existent organisation of non-entities: in short, an unholding non-operation to re-cycle unbelievable untruths. Can’t A & B see their taking blow after blow to their credibility for the team disowning them?

    Away with they and their ilk. Bring on the empty horses and their dirty dozen dodgy dossiers, m(e)anderin’ through a Manifesto for the UK, from which we can separate the baby of renewed Union before chucking out the same old and cold UK State’s bathwater – having hauled all contributors before the public’s court via our own Holyrood committees for starters.

    Let the Scottish re-enlightenment begin!

  5. Mike Vickers says:

    Scotland has been closer to Europe than England has: the Auld Alliance and an active member of the Hanseatic League. But the question: instance access to Europe of Scotland or wait nine years looks to me spurious. The decision that Scotland is being asked to take is for 300 years, so what’s even 20 years on this time scale?

  6. vronsky says:

    Sadly, it doesn’t matter if it’s a lie and Darling knows this. He and the No Campaign can invent any nightmare they want; the media will spread it around and it will quickly become the received wisdom on the topic. It’s saturation marketing, not politics.

    1. muttley79 says:

      I am growing increasingly angry at the media’s refusal to perform one of its most basic tasks in the referendum, which is scrutinizing and challenging the information coming from the No campaign. More and more it is becoming obvious that the claims the No campaign are promoting are at worse lies, and at best misinformation. Take two examples, those claims over the number of job losses due to Trident, and the number of treaties an Independent Scotland would have to negotiate (or re-negotiate). Jackie Baillie claimed up to around 18,000 jobs would be lost with the removal of Trident. I think a FOI request showed that the MOD admitted the figure was around 500. Willie Rennie claimed last week that Scotland would have to negotiate 14,000 international treaties. Today the UK government’s paper says the figure is 8,000, which is almost a 50% drop. Therefore, the media in Scotland are demonstrably failing to hold the No campaign to account and are just not asking any difficult questions of them.

      The EU issue is emblematic of all of this. I don’t recall Darling being asked about the growing likelihood of Scotland leaving the EU in the event of a No vote in the independence referendum (or even one difficult question for that matter!). I think the seeming collusion between the main section of the media in Scotland and the No campaign is getting close to being corrupt. There are a number of honest journalists reporting on Scottish affairs, but the overwhelming majority are clearly following a unionist agenda. This poses serious questions for Scottish democracy, and the political process here.

  7. There are several highly relevant points made here, particularly in relation to Scotland’s fully implemented acquis and the unravelling of several very complex relationships.

    The problematic part, however, is the point that “As Scotland would negotiate with the UK post referendum, parallel negotiations would take place with Brussels on our EU membership. Following an agreement of the European Council, the Treaty on European Union (TEU) would be amended to include the word ‘Scotland’ in the preamble.”

    This would require the unanimous agreement of all the other EU member states and this is something that is impossible to guarantee at this moment in time. I have always argued that it would make sense for all sides to enter into good faith negotiations and attempt to ensure that Scotland can transition to EU membership smoothly. (There is even an argument that the EU member states would be under a legal obligation to seek a resolution to the problem through negotiations.)

    That being said, negotiations are in no way the same as guaranteeing an agreement and it would only take Spain, or some other nation, to refuse to agree to ammending the treaties.

    It would of course be very difficult politically for a nation like Spain to justify their decision not to amend the treaties in favour of Scotland, but as the “masters of the treaties” the current EU Member States are under no obligation to amend them.

    I therefore feel that the ammendment argument is not so certain as the SNP would have us believe.

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