Scottish independence: Nationalist split emerges over EU policy

Former SNP leader, Gordon Wilson, was joined by party legend Jim
Sillars in arguing against the party's position on EU membership

Scottish News: Scottish independence: Nationalist split emerges over EU policy

by Laura Wilkinson

In a joint statement former SNP leader Gordon Wilson and former deputy leader Jim Sillars have expressed concerns over an independent Scotland’s position in Europe.

They claimed that “mere assertions” by the current Scottish governments over automatically granted EU membership if Scotland were to become independent could damage Nationalist chances of victory in the 2014 referendum.

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The statement called for the Scottish government to start negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as an alternative to joining the European Union because of fears that the EU would force Scotland to join the euro.

They further said that the Holyrood ought to press the UK government to accept the European Commission’s offer of official advice to allow for a “seamless transition from part of the British state to full member state status”.

EFTA allows member countries free trade agreements without being part of EU legislation and currently includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland along with EU member state countries.

The statement focused on an independent Scotland continuing to be an economic force in Europe, as Scotland is EU’s largest oil producer and an important contributor to the Common Fisheries Policy, and how access to European markets is key for Scotland to economically succeed in the future.

An academic and constitutional lawyer who served on an expert panel has claimed that the SNP government’s attitude towards gaining legal advice has been too complacent with regards to the future difficulties ahead. Professor Neil Walker of Edinburgh University was part a panel established by Alex Salmond to assess the impact of the UK Supreme Court on Scots law and the transition to independence.

He warned that “Scottish independence would require substantial renegotiation of the terms of membership of the European Union” applicable to Scotland’s budgetary contributions, membership of euro currency and justice and home affairs policies.

Concerns over Spain’s plans to vote against an independent Scotland becoming automatic member state of the EU have encouraged some Nationalist supporters to gain more information about membership to the EFTA.

The issue of Spain’s position on Scottish independence threatens to become fraught as the Spanish fishing industry relies heavily on access to Scottish territorial waters.

An SNP spokesperson said that a range of experts have provided substantial evidence and opinion to suggest that an independent Scotland would continue to be an EU member state. Terms outlining the relationships between an independent Scotland, the UK and the EU are to be outlined in a white paper expected to be published next year.




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commented 2012-11-08 16:45:29 +0000 · Flag
snp are a joke, They dont know what to stand for on anything other than just ripping Scotland out of the UK.
commented 2012-11-08 07:07:37 +0000 · Flag
Two bitter old men sniping from the sidelines.
We have the first chance in over 300 years to regain our Independence and they try putting the mockers on the ‘Yes’ campaign with mean minded criticisms that have no real basis in fact.
After we obtain the vote they can have there tuppence worth. All they do is give comfort to our enemies with pronouncements like this.
commented 2012-11-07 21:21:35 +0000 · Flag
Jim Sillars was never a leader of SNP, he was deputy leader.
published this page in News 2012-11-07 15:42:17 +0000