Saturday

21st Oct 2017

British PM rebukes Scottish single market plans

  • Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon (r) hoped that British PM Theresa May (r) would "demonstrate the same flexibility and willingness to compromise" as hers. (Photo: First Minister of Scotland)

British prime minister Theresa May rebuked plans presented by Scotland on Tuesday (20 December) to stay in Europe's single market, saying they were "impractical" and relied on unacceptable assumptions about Scotland's position.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon presented the plans, contained in a 60-page document named "Scotland's place in Europe", which she said would avoid the "devastating" consequences of leaving the EU and its single market.

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 first option would be to keep the whole UK in the single market, as a "full member" of the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA is made of the EU 28 countries plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

This could be done, according to the Scottish paper, with the UK joining first the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a club composed of Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. It would then "retain – or renew – its membership of the EEA Agreement or by direct association to the EEA".

"It would make no economic sense whatsoever for the UK to leave the single market," Sturgeon said. "It would be entirely democratically justifiable for the UK to remain within it.

"I accept that there is a mandate in England and Wales to take the UK out of the EU. However, I do not accept that there is a mandate to take any part of the UK out of the single market."

As a consequence, if the UK government decided to leave the single market as well as the EU, in particular to be have more control on immigration, Scotland would ask for a so-called differentiated solution.

It would remain in the UK but would choose what is often referred to as the "Norway model" - membership of the EFTA and to the EEA.

There would be no customs or people control at the border between Scotland and England, Sturgeon insisted.

"It is important to stress that this option does not require concessions either from the

UK government or the governments of the EEA member states," says the document.

"It requires agreement that Scotland should not be required to leave that market against the clear democratic wishes of a majority of our, and the EU’s, citizens."

'A significant compromise'

The Scottish government's proposal, which assumes that the UK will leave the EU and most probably also the single market, doesn't make the case for independence.

Although it says that it "continues to believe that independence offers the best long-term future for Scotland", the government insists that "Scotland will only become independent when a majority of people in Scotland choose that future in a democratic referendum".

"The proposals in this paper reflect the mandate given to the Scottish government by the Scottish parliament in the days following the EU referendum to explore all options for protecting our relationship with the EU," it adds.

Sturgeon however said that an independence referendum remained an option if the UK government did not accept Scotland's proposal.



In an interview to EUobserver, her predecessor Alex Salmond said a vote could be held even before the UK reach an agreement on Brexit with the EU.

As such, Sturgeon pointed out, the document was a "significant compromise" and "a serious and genuine attempt to build as much consensus as possible, to square the circle and to unify the country around a clear plan to protect our interests".

She added that she expected that the British government would "demonstrate the same flexibility and willingness to compromise".

But British PM Theresa May quickly poured cold water on Sturgeon's proposals.

“What we will be negotiating is a United Kingdom approach and a United Kingdom relationship with the European Union," she said in a House of Commons debate.

"I think you’ve assumed an acceptance of differential relationships which I don’t think it’s right to accept," she told a Scottish MP.

'No reason for independence vote'

She said that she would "look very seriously at any proposals that come forward from the devolved administrations, but there may be proposals that are impractical".

She added that she didn't think there was "a need or a reason for the Scottish government to hold another independence referendum".

In any case, May insisted, "if Scotland were to become independent, then not only would it no longer be a member of the European Union, it would no longer be a member of the single market of the European Union and it would no longer be a member of the single market of the United Kingdom".

She also warned that "the single market of the United Kingdom is worth four times as much to Scotland as the single market of the European Union".

EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

The EU has launched internal preparations for phase two of Brexit talks, but a December breakthrough only possible if UK gives more detail on divorce issues first.

Analysis

May on mission impossible in Brussels

UK prime minister called on other EU leaders to "step forward together", but she has almost nothing to offer them except the threat of walking away.

Analysis

May on mission impossible in Brussels

UK prime minister called on other EU leaders to "step forward together", but she has almost nothing to offer them except the threat of walking away.

EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks

The EU is "not confident, but hopeful" that the UK will achieve sufficient progress for 'stage 2' by December, as Britain's Brexit negotiator blames the slow pace of negotiations on the EU ahead of a crucial summit meeting.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  2. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  4. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  5. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  6. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  7. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  8. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  12. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement