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A Westminster report states that an independent Scotland would be EU Member State from first day

The report, published by the British Parliament, has been drafted by a senior expert on the enlargement of the European Union, Honorary Director-General of the European Commission and Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre. The arguments in the document also apply to the Catalan case. The text states that “for practical and political reasons [Scottish people] could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission” since “having been members of the EU for 40 years, [they] have acquired rights as European citizens”. The analysis concludes that “negotiations on the terms of membership would take place in the period between the referendum and the planned date of independence” and that “the EU would adopt a simplified procedure for the negotiations”.

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31 October 2012 08:53 PM

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ACN

London (ACN).- A report published by the British Parliament states that an independent Scotland should be a full member of the European Union from the first day of its independence. The document is drafted by an expert on EU law and enlargement, Graham Avery, who is also Honorary Director-General of the European Commission and Senior Adviser at Brussels-based European Policy Centre. The report states that Scotland \u201Cfor practical and political reasons could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission\u201D since the \u201C 5 million people, having been members of the EU for 40 years; have acquired rights as European citizens\u201D. The report concludes that \u201Carrangements for Scotland\u2019s EU membership would need to be in place simultaneously with independence\u201D. Therefore \u201Cnegotiations on the terms of membership would take place in the period between the referendum and the planned date of independence\u201D. For this, according to Avery, who is also a Senior Member of St. Antony\u2019s College of the University of Oxford, \u201Cthe EU would adopt a simplified procedure for the negotiations, not the traditional procedure followed for the accession of non-member countries\u201D. The report is part of a series of expert analyses on the Foreign Policy consequences of an independent Scotland for both the new state and the remainder UK. The purpose of the report is \u201Cto address the subject as objectively as possible\u201D since \u201Copponents tend to exaggerate the difficulties of EU membership, while proponents tend to minimise them\u201D. It \u201Cfocuses on the question of the procedure for Scotland\u2019s accession\u201D. The document published on the British Parliament website could also apply to the Catalan case. In fact, EU membership is one of the main controversies regarding a Catalan self-determination process, as the Spanish Government has started an offensive to consider an independent Catalonia automatically being excluded from the EU. Furthermore, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister is insisting that Spain and \u201Cmany other member States\u201D would veto\u2019s Catalonia\u2019s EU membership.


The report is named \u2018The foreign policy implications of and for a separate Scotland\u2019 and was issued on the 24th of September by Westminster Parliament, being part of a series of expert opinions on the Scottish self-determination process read by the Foreign Affairs Committee. The document is very clear: an independent Scotland would not be excluded from the European Union and would be a full EU member state from the first day following independence. \u201CScotland\u2019s EU membership would need to be in place simultaneously with Scottish independence\u201D because of \u201Cpractical and political reasons\u201D.

Germany\u2019s unification as a precedent

The report recognises that there are \u201Cno historical precedents\u201D for this situation. However, the \u201CGerman reunification represents in some ways the opposite of Scottish independence: it was enlargement without accession, whereas Scottish independence would be accession without enlargement\u201D. However, the author considers it \u201Cpertinent\u201D for the Scottish case regarding \u201Cthe procedures\u201D. \u201CThe EU adopted a simplified procedure for negotiation under which the Commission explored with Bonn and Berlin the changes needed in EU legislation\u201D, states the document, not following the regular enlargement procedure. The European Commission\u2019s \u201Cproposals were approved rapidly by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament\u201D and \u201Cno EU intergovernmental conference was necessary because there was no modification of the EU Treaties\u201D.

Light changes in the EU Treaties

However, Graham Avery recognises that in the case of Scotland, EU treaties should be accordingly modified, but only for light changes \u201Cif only to provide for Scottish representation in the EU institutions (number of members of European Parliament, number of votes in Council of Ministers, etc.)\u201D. According to the report, the changes to the EU Treaties would be negotiated \u201Cin the period between the referendum and the planned date of independence\u201D.

The Treaties would be modified following a \u201Csimplified procedure\u201D, \u201Cas in the case of the German reunification\u201D. \u201CThe Commission would be asked to conduct exploratory talks with Edinburgh, London and other capitals, and submit proposals\u201D, suggests the document. However, the negotiations would be far less complex and much quicker than for regular enlargements of non-member countries. The analyses published by the UK Parliament emphasises that Scotland \u201Chas applied the EU\u2019s policies and legislation for 40 years\u201D and that \u201CScotland\u2019s 5 million people, having been members of the EU for 40 years; have acquired rights as European citizens\u201D.

Scotland \u201Cleaving the EU, and subsequently applying to join it, is not feasible\u201D

The report published on Westminster\u2019s website states that \u201Cfor practical and political reasons the idea of Scotland leaving the EU, and subsequently applying to join it, is not feasible. From the practical point of view, it would require complicated temporary arrangements for a new relationship between the EU (including the rest of the UK) and Scotland (outside the EU) including the possibility of controls at the frontier with England. Neither the EU (including the rest of the UK.) nor Scotland would have an interest in creating such an anomaly\u201D

The document adds that \u201Cfrom the political point of view, Scotland has been in the EU for 40 years; and its people have acquired rights as European citizens. If they wish to remain in the EU, they could hardly be asked to leave and then reapply for membership in the same way as the people of a non-member country such as Turkey. The point can be illustrated by considering another example: if a break-up of Belgium were agreed between Wallonia and Flanders, it is inconceivable that other EU members would require 11 million people to leave the EU and then reapply for membership\u201D.  

Changes \u201Cshould not be problematic\u201D

The report emphasises that \u201Cthe changes in the basic Treaties for institutional reasons should not be problematic\u201D as \u201Ccould easily be calculated by reference to member states of comparable size (Denmark, Finland & Slovakia have populations of 5-6 million)\u201D. Furthermore, \u201Cthe remainder of the United Kingdom\u201D would keep the same number of votes, as \u201Cwith 60 million it would still be comparable to France & Italy\u201D. However, the number of UK Members of the European Parliament \u201Cmight need to be reduced in number in order to respect the Parliament\u2019s limit of members\u201D.

In order to modify the Treaties, besides the European Commission, \u201Cthe main parties in negotiations for Scottish accession to the EU would be the member states (28 members following Croatia\u2019s accession in 2013) and the Scottish government (as constituted under pre-independence arrangements)\u201D, indicates the document.

The Scottish government should \u201Cindicate its wish [\u2026] to remain in the EU\u201D

In fact, since Scotland would not be officially an independent state, it could not apply for membership \u201Cunder Article 49 of the Treaty\u201D, written for non-members. However, \u201Cit could indicate its wish for Scotland to remain in the EU\u201D, which \u201Cwould lead to negotiations in an appropriate framework\u201D. Finally, the proposals to change the Treaties \u201Cwould be submitted for approval to the EU institutions and the Parliaments of 28 member states and of Scotland\u201D. The changes and Scotland\u2019s EU membership \u201Cwould come into force on the date of Scottish independence\u201D.

Eurozone and Schengen membership, a separate issue as the UK is currently out of them

The accession to the Eurozone and Schengen Space would be considered as a separate issue, according to the report. The United Kingdom is not a member of either group and therefore an independent Scotland would not be, but it could join later following the regular negotiations for EU Member States that are not part of the Eurozone or Schengen.

Regarding secondary legislation, \u201Cthere should be no need, for example, to re-negotiate Scotland\u2019s application of European policies in fields such as environment; transport, agriculture, etc.\u201D The report indicates that it would be enough to \u201Ctranspose mutatis mutandis the situation that already exists for Scotland within the U.K.\u201D The detailed implications for the remainder of the UK should be negotiated between London and Edinburgh, together with the European Commission. However, \u201Cthey would have little interest for other member states who would be content to consider the question of secondary legislation on the basis of a report and proposals from the Commission.\u201D Furthermore, regarding Scotland\u2019s request for EU legislation changes, this should \u201Cbe solved on a temporary basis by means of a roll-over mutatis mutandis of existing arrangements for the U.K.\u201D. When specific policies come up for revision again, Scotland would participate as any other EU Member State.

The author of the report is a senior expert on EU enlargement

The author of the report, Graham Avery, has worked for 40 years as a civil servant for British Governments \u2013 negotiating the United Kingdom\u2019s EU accession \u2013 and for the European Commission in several senior managing positions. He also took part in successive negotiations for EU enlargement. Currently Avery is Honorary Director-General of the European Commission, a Senior Adviser at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre and a Senior Member of St. Antony\u2019s College of the University of Oxford.

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  • Scotland's PM, Alex Salmond (left) and UK's PM, David Cameron (right) after signing the referendum agreement (by Reuters)

  • Scotland's PM, Alex Salmond (left) and UK's PM, David Cameron (right) after signing the referendum agreement (by Reuters)