Tuesday

21st Nov 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.

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad

MEPs urged Poland to comply with the EU treaties and to halt the 'reform' of the judiciary that could further undermine the rule of law in the country. Polish PM Beata Szydlo called the vote 'outrageous'.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  3. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  4. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  5. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  6. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  7. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  8. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  9. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  11. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  12. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'

Latest News

  1. 1.3 million European citizens in call for glyphosate ban
  2. EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock
  3. David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees
  4. EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual
  5. EU monitoring of Libyan coastguard done by Libyans
  6. Greek opposition leader promises end to 'surreal' era
  7. Refugee case could topple Slovenia government
  8. Leak: EU states weaken post-Dieselgate testing