Tuesday

26th Jan 2021

Agenda

All eyes on Scottish independence vote this WEEK

  • The Scottish vote - keenly watched by the rest of the EU (Photo: Sarah Ross)

This week most of the EU's attention will focus on Scottish voters who, on Thursday, will decide whether they want their country to break away from its 300-year union with rest of the UK.

Already a searing political issue in the UK where polls put the yes and no camp neck and neck, it is also of huge interest to the rest of the EU which contains several independence-minded regions.

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Topping the list of such regions is Catalonia which wants to have an independence referendum of its own on 9 November.

A Catalan government envoy as well as several lawmakers will be in Scotland in the run-up to the vote.

The interest is so large because a Yes vote would represent the first time an EU member state has broken up and would raise a series of EU questions about the newly independent state - including whether it would become an EU member, what it would pay into the EU budget, how many EP seats it would have, would it have an EU commissioner and what currency it would use.

There has been much debate over the 'automaticity' of membership for a putative independent Scotland, given that it is already part of the EU.

The European Commission, for its part, has gone from saying earlier this year that it would be "difficult, if not impossible" for Scotland to join to maintaining a tightlipped silence on the matter.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has suggested EU membership terms would be negotiated in the 18 months after any Yes vote, with the latest poll putting the No camp slighty ahead (51%) of the Yes camp (49%).

The European Parliament will gather for its first work session after the summer. The new-look parliament, the eighth EU assembly, is again dominated by men (63%) and ranges from a deputy of 26 years (a Dane) to a 91-year old Greek.

Around half (50.6%) of MEPs are unfamiliar with the EP's Strasbourg corridors, including all of Greece's MEPs. Deputies from Germany, on the other hand, largely remain the same (70% are returning MEPs)..

On the EP's agenda is a vote on the EU's trade agreement with Ukraine (Tuesday); a discussion with outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on conflicts in the Middle East (Wednesday); and a debate on the European Youth Initiative - a €6bn fund launched in January meant to help member states implement a job-finding scheme for young people, but on which progress has been very slow.

Feature

Scotland on verge of 'independence lite'

Scottish people are preparing for a historic referendum that could partly end their union with the UK, but still seek to keep the pound and the British queen.

Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

The director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the parliament on vaccine authorisation on Tuesday. EMA is expected to give the green light to the third vaccine at the end of the week.

EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK

EU leaders talk vaccines, while the Portugues EU presidency introduces itself to MEPs. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president of the United States, and the EU hopes this will mark a new beginning for EU-US relations.

Gruelling Brexit and budget talks continue This WEEK

After almost a week of arm-wrestling and ten days before the UK severs all of its EU ties, negotiators are back working hard on a deal on the future EU-UK relations. Budget and rule of law talks will also continue.

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