Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Scottish EU membership 'not in serious doubt'

  • British flags in Edinburgh (Photo: Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture)

Scotland’s EU membership “is not in any serious doubt” if the country votes for independence, according to new research by constitutional experts.

Published on Wednesday (20 August), the report by Edinburgh University professor Stephen Tierney and Katie Boyle, a constitutional lawyer, on behalf of the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council examines the legal questions facing an independent Scotland.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Scots go to the polls on 18 September to decide whether to split from the UK. (Photo: EUobserver)

It says that “the accession of an independent Scotland to the European Union is not in any serious doubt”, even in the likely event the new country is unable to finalise its membership terms in the 18-month window between the 18 September referendum and the Scottish government’s planned declaration of independence in March 2016.

“In the event that formal accession has not been secured by Independence Day, it is likely that temporary provisions will be put in place to ensure that the rights and obligations arising from the EU treaties will continue to apply to Scotland in the interim period,” the report adds.

Scots go to the polls on 18 September to decide whether to split from the UK.

With less than a month to go, the Better Together campaign, which wants Scotland to remain part of the UK, holds a 10 point lead, but the gap has closed in recent month.

The report’s findings will be a welcome bump for pro-independence campaigners.

The Scottish Nationalist government has claimed it will be able to re-negotiate its EU membership from inside the 28 country bloc by using Article 48 of the EU treaty.

Meanwhile, the Better Together campaign, which opposes independence, has seized on remarks by Jose Manuel Barroso, the outgoing president of the European Commission, who earlier said Scotland would not receive special treatment and would have to go through the formal accession procedure used by all previous applicants.

Whichever route Scotland takes would require the consent of all EU member states, a process which Barroso described as “extremely difficult, if not impossible”, since other countries, such as Spain, are reluctant to avoid the precedent of breakaway provinces joining the bloc.

The Spanish government is currently battling plans by Catalonia to hold a referendum on its own independence in November.

For its part, Wednesday’s report notes that while Article 48 offers a "plausible route to [Scotland’s] membership depending upon the political will" of the EU, a formal, Barroso-type application is the more likely option.

Pro-Union campaigners have also said Scotland would lose its share of the UK’s €3 billion per year rebate from the EU budget and would receive lower agricultural subsidies.

But the Nationalists have dismissed these claims as “scaremongering”, noting that UK prime minister David Cameron’s plans to hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017 pose the biggest threat to Soctland’s EU status.

Happy young Finns don't vote at EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.

News in Brief

  1. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  2. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  3. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  4. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll
  5. Austrian government chaos as far-right ministers step down
  6. Farage hit by milkshake during campaign tour
  7. New president dissolves Ukraine's parliament
  8. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment

Agenda

EU votes on future leaders This WEEK

The political spotlight switches from Brussels to national capitals and regions this week as Europe gears up for the start of European Parliament elections on Thursday

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us