Thursday

19th Oct 2017

Scottish leaders under pressure on EU status

  • There is confusion over whether an independent Scotland would remain in the EU. (Photo: The Laird of Oldham)

The Scottish government is facing renewed pressure to reveal legal advice on whether it would remain in the EU if the country votes to leave the United Kingdom.

An urgent hearing of the Court of Session in Edinburgh will take place on Thursday (20 September), with Scotland's information commissioner Rosemary Agnew demanding the urgent two-day meeting to confirm that the ruling nationalist administration should release any legal advice on EU membership prospects.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The question of Scotland's EU membership is vital to the nationalists who are keen to retain unfettered access to the single market as well as an opt-out from joining the euro.

The government has consistently argued that Scotland's EU status would not be affected by independence.

However, that assumption was thrown into doubt last week by the head of the European Commission.

In his State of the Union speech in the European Parliament, Jose Barroso told MEPs that break-away countries would have to make new applications to join the EU. "A new state, if it wants to join the EU, has to apply to become a member of the EU, like any state," he said.

Under EU accession rules, the approval of all member states is required for a country to join the 27-country bloc.

The question of whether legal advice exists on Scotland's EU status was triggered by a freedom of information request made by Scottish opposition MEP Catherine Stihler in 2011 demanding its publication.

Commenting on Barroso's speech, she warned that "Scotland will not automatically assume the many rights of the UK" and said the country's EU membership would take "long, detailed negotiations with a great many bodies and institutions."

In July, Scotland's information commissioner Rosemary Agnew ruled that the government should publish any legal advice on the issue, stating that the advice would improve public understanding in the debate on independence.]

She noted that disclosure would "inform the public in making their choice in a referendum, and in participating in the referendum debate."

However, the government has continued to stand firm, appealing the case and citing provisions in freedom of information law which allow public authorities to withhold information if it deems it to be against the public interest.

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, who has also claimed that revealing legal advice would breach a ministerial code, insists that the legal implications will be covered in a white paper on Scottish independence expected to be published in November 2013, ahead of a planned referendum on independence in 2014.

The case has potential implications for Catalonia in Spain and for other regions in Europe calling for independence.

Last week, Catalonian regional leader, Artur Mas, warned the European Commission to prepare for a series of breakaway EU states, claiming that the region, which already has semi-autonomous status, would fare better if it had control over its tax and spending policy.

Tusk summits to create new-model EU

Tusk has proposed a series of 13 top-level talks to take forward European reform, but his backing for a multi-speed Europe risks deepening divide.

Catalonia to declare independence in a few days

Spain's king, Felipe VI, said Catalonia's leaders were breaking up the country's unity as hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied against police violence at Sunday's referendum.

Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis

Spanish political leaders called on Catalan separatists to organise regional elections as a way to avoid emergency measures due to be taken on Thursday. That's "not on the table", a Catalan official replied.

Tusk summits to create new-model EU

Tusk has proposed a series of 13 top-level talks to take forward European reform, but his backing for a multi-speed Europe risks deepening divide.

News in Brief

  1. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  2. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  3. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  4. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  5. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  6. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  7. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  8. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership