Referendum in Scotland

A hard way back to the EU

Published on 16 September 2014 at 07:30

What would happen to Scotland’s EU membership should the “yes” to independence win in the 18 September referendum? The Commission’s president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker already made clear that “there is no guarantee an independent Scotland will be able to join the EU”, writes Christian Oliver in the Financial Times, adding that —

EU lawyers and constitutional experts have no doubt that Scotland’s accession to the bloc is possible but Edinburgh will have to run a lengthy gauntlet of potential vetoes, crucially from Spain, which fears a Scottish Yes could accelerate Catalan dreams of independence. It will also need to deal with the question of joining the euro, which is now in theory obligatory for any new member. The only certainty among the treaty experts in Brussels is that Scotland’s admission to the EU will not be as automatic or seamless as the Scottish National party insists.

So, Scotland would anyway have to apply for admission to the EU if it wants to gain membership. But there would be some hurdles ahead, notes Christian Oliver. The first one would be being recognised as a new country:

Once it has been recognised by London, Scotland will need the same from all the other member states before it can apply (or reapply) to join the EU. […] The approval process could be tortuous, requiring parliamentary debates and votes.

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Then, Scotland would have to commit to join the euro, like most of the EU countries (“the UK and Denmark won ‘opt-outs’ that are no longer available to new applicants’, notes the Financial Times).

Scotland would also have to manage a transition before its admission, possibly through a “transitional agreement” with the EU — “an unprecedented compromise for an unprecedented situation”, writes the Financial Times in which the new country would share the same situation as other non-EU states like Norway or Switzerland, which “often have to abide with large parts of the acquis (the body of EU legislation)”.

Eventually, concludes the daily, if an independent Scotland should be “still sending six lawmakers to the European parliament”, it “would almost certainly not be able to continue to enjoy Britain’s rebate from budget contributions”.


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