Scottish independence: Scots could lose EU citizenship by voting no

jose-barroso.jpg
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has
indicated that Scotland would have to negotiate with the EU after a
yes vote on independence

 

Scottish independence: Scots could lose EU citizenship by voting no

Scotland's Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is seeking talks with the European Commission after its president, Jose Manuel Barroso, appeared to insist that an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the European Union.

The development adds to the confusion over whether Scots could lose their European citizenship should Prime Minister David Cameron's promised referendum on EU membership lead to Britain withdrawing.

More Scottish news:

Such a vote raises the potential threat that Scots may lose their EU citizenship against their wishes should the English, with their numerical superiority, vote to leave. Losing EU citizenship would impact on matters of trade, work opportunities and security.

A new YouGov survey conducted between 22nd - 23rd November shows English voters to be considerably more sceptical towards the EU than their Scottish counterparts. While in most parts of England a majority wish to leave the EU, only 41 percent of Scots expressed a desire to withdraw with as many as 22 percent undecided.

If these polling figures were replicated in a UK-wide referendum there is a strong possibility that Scotland would be out of Europe even if, as seems very possible, a majority of Scots vote to remain inside the EU.

With Scotland's independence referendum less than two years away both the pro-independence YesScotland and the anti-independence BetterTogether camps will come under pressure from voters to demonstrate how EU membership can be guaranteed by voting yes or no.

The political confusion over the matter was evident from comments by the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP who said:  "Seeking discussions with the European Commission is sensible but the 27 countries in the European Union have to agree too. Without their agreement Scotland could lose out heavily in any post referendum negotiations."

Despite being unable to provide certainty on Scotland's place in the EU should Scots vote against independence with a UK-wide EU referendum looming, Mr Rennie demanded certainty from the SNP, saying: "The SNP need to provide certainty about an independent Scotland's place in the EU but that's the one thing they can't provide."

Barroso comments

Mr Barrosso said on BBC’s Hardtalk: "For European Union purposes, from a legal point of view, it is certainly a new state. If a country becomes independent it is a new state and has to negotiate with the EU."

The comments do not rule out what many think is the most likely outcome whereby Scotland has temporary membership during a period whereby permanent membership is negotiated. Neither does Mr Barroso's comments clear up the matter of whether the rest of the UK, which will also be a new state, would have to negotiate as a new member.

Responding to Mr Barroso’s BBC interview, Deputy First Minister and Deputy SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“We do not agree that an independent Scotland will be in the position of having to reapply for European Union membership, because there is no provision for removing EU treaties from any part of EU territory, or for removing European citizenship from the people of a country which has been in the EU for 40 years.

“We are now seeking early talks with the European Commission to discuss the specific process of Scotland becoming independent”.

Timeline on Scotland's EU status debate:

  • July: Scottish Government is ordered, under Freedom of Information laws, to reveal whether it had sought legal advice, regarding Scotland’s EU membership, and what this advice was. The SNP appeals the decision.
  • September 10: Following a probe by Italian federalist politician Mara Bizzotto on the issue of EU membership when regional states leave member states, EC president Jose Manuel Barroso suggests that the EU citizenship would have to be "negotiated within the international legal order".
  • September 12: Spokesperson for the EC, Olivier Bailly, sparks fears of an excluded Scotland by stating that newly independent states will have to apply for membership. He clarifies that his comments were in relation to Catalonia, and should not be applied to Scotland.
  • September 13: First Minister Alex Salmond and Labour leader Johann Lamont clash over the issue of whether Scotland will automatically be accepted into the EU, in light of Barroso’s comments. Salmond states: "We are not in the position of a country which is not part of the European Union, and that means of course there have to be negotiations, but the crucial point is that these negotiations take place from within the context of the European Union."
  • September 14: Salmond promises to make Scotland’s EU membership status clearer when the Scottish government publishes its white referendum paper next year.
  • September 16: SNP welcomes reports from an EU insider that Scotland would be considered an asset and welcomed into the EU by nation states. 
  • September 20: Scotland’s Court of Session sets dates in December for a hearing about whether the Scottish government must disclose if it received advice about its EU membership. A ruling is due in the New Year.
  • September 21: Labour MSP Helen Eadie accuses Holyrood’s committee convener Christina McKelvie of attempting to “gag” her over demands for an inquiry into legal advice received by the Scottish Government. 
  • October 2: Vice-President of the European Commission (EC) Viviane Reding insists there is no law that says Catalonia should leave the European Union (EU) if it becomes independent. The report comes after Lord Wallace of Tankerness, Scotland’s Advocate General, stating: “the likely consequence is that Scotland would have to apply to join the EU. If it joined the EU, it would do so on terms, and it is those terms which would create considerable uncertainty about the future of Scotland outside the UK.”
  • October 18: At the 78th Annual SNP Conference, Alex Salmond states that Scotland is “bidding to become Europe’s newest country”.
  • October 23: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon states “The Scottish Government has previously cited opinions from a number of eminent legal authorities, past and present, in support of its view that an independent Scotland will continue in membership of the European Union but has not sought specific legal advice.” Political opponents accuse Salmond of lying, quoting a previous interview with Andrew Neil where he admits they had received advice. Salmond retaliates by accusing rivals of selectively quoting the interview.
  • October 25: The Scottish Government announces that they will not be publishing the legal advice it receives. Sturgeon states that the White Paper on independence “will be entirely consistent with the legal advice we receive.”
  • October 30: SNP face mounting pressure to clarify Scotland’s post-referendum stance with the EU.
  • October 31: Graham Avery, Honorary Director-General of the European Commission and Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, states that an independent Scotland will continue to be a member of the European Union (EU) and will not have to re-apply after the referendum.

 

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commented 2012-12-15 00:18:16 +0000 · Flag
I agree with James. Let’s ditch both Unions!
commented 2012-12-12 10:26:51 +0000 · Flag
What is all this talk about losing EU citizenship? Since when has there been any such thing as citizenship of an international organisation? Never to my knowledge.

Would we all be citizens of the Council of Europe, the OSCE, UNESCO, the World Bank and hundreds of other international institutions? Would 7,000 million human beings all over the world each have hundreds of citizenships?

The idea is nonsensical. international law recognises only the citizenship of one’s own home state. Every international institution – not just the EU – guarantees the upholding of these civic rights, but it does not award them.

The Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are the regional authorities responsible for the supervision and enforcement of the basic rights of the individual citizen throughout Europe. These two institutions represent the whole of Europe, in contrast to the European Union, which covers only half of the continent.

The fiction of EU citizenship must be seen as part of the attempts to create a European state, the intention being that EU citizenship would in time supersede the individual national citizenships, which would eventually disappear. Like the Nobel Peace Prize, the fiction of citizenship is one of the props that are becoming increasingly necessary to shore up the crumbling EU edifice.

It is pure ideology, as far removed from day-to-day reality as anything Karl Marx ever wrote. Like most of such schemes, what it boils down to is more and more power over more and more people being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

The SNP has simply lost the place here. The present controversy over Scotland and the EU is pure candy floss and should never have been whipped up in the first place. All that the SNP has done has been to set the alarm bells ringing in every EU member state, and the resulting diplomatic pressure on the EU Commission from all sides has ensured not only that Scotland can expect no concessions whatever on EU membership, but also that every available obstacle will be placed in its way.

Elementary diplomacy could have avoided such a situation from the outset, but after 300 years out of the world that is something that the Scots still have to re-learn.
published this page in News 2012-12-11 18:12:11 +0000