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”.
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 “for practical and political reasons could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission” since the “ 5 million people, having been members of the EU for 40 years; have acquired rights as European citizens”. The report concludes that “arrangements for Scotland’s EU membership would need to be in place simultaneously with independence”. Therefore “negotiations on the terms of membership would take place in the period between the referendum and the planned date of independence”. For this, according to Avery, who is also a Senior Member of St. Antony’s College of the University of Oxford, “the EU would adopt a simplified procedure for the negotiations, not the traditional procedure followed for the accession of non-member countries”. 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 “to address the subject as objectively as possible” since “opponents tend to exaggerate the difficulties of EU membership, while proponents tend to minimise them”. It “focuses on the question of the procedure for Scotland’s accession”. 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 “many other member States” would veto’s Catalonia’s EU membership.
The report is named ‘The foreign policy implications of and for a separate Scotland’ 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. “Scotland’s EU membership would need to be in place simultaneously with Scottish independence” because of “practical and political reasons”.
Germany’s unification as a precedent
The report recognises that there are “no historical precedents” for this situation. However, the “German reunification represents in some ways the opposite of Scottish independence: it was enlargement without accession, whereas Scottish independence would be accession without enlargement”. However, the author considers it “pertinent” for the Scottish case regarding “the procedures”. “The EU adopted a simplified procedure for negotiation under which the Commission explored with Bonn and Berlin the changes needed in EU legislation”, states the document, not following the regular enlargement procedure. The European Commission’s “proposals were approved rapidly by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament” and “no EU intergovernmental conference was necessary because there was no modification of the EU Treaties”.
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 “if only to provide for Scottish representation in the EU institutions (number of members of European Parliament, number of votes in Council of Ministers, etc.)”. According to the report, the changes to the EU Treaties would be negotiated “in the period between the referendum and the planned date of independence”.
The Treaties would be modified following a “simplified procedure”, “as in the case of the German reunification”. “The Commission would be asked to conduct exploratory talks with Edinburgh, London and other capitals, and submit proposals”, 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 “has applied the EU’s policies and legislation for 40 years” and that “Scotland’s 5 million people, having been members of the EU for 40 years; have acquired rights as European citizens”.
Scotland “leaving the EU, and subsequently applying to join it, is not feasible”
The report published on Westminster’s website states that “for 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”
The document adds that “from 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”.
Changes “should not be problematic”
The report emphasises that “the changes in the basic Treaties for institutional reasons should not be problematic” as “could easily be calculated by reference to member states of comparable size (Denmark, Finland & Slovakia have populations of 5-6 million)”. Furthermore, “the remainder of the United Kingdom” would keep the same number of votes, as “with 60 million it would still be comparable to France & Italy”. However, the number of UK Members of the European Parliament “might need to be reduced in number in order to respect the Parliament’s limit of members”.
In order to modify the Treaties, besides the European Commission, “the main parties in negotiations for Scottish accession to the EU would be the member states (28 members following Croatia’s accession in 2013) and the Scottish government (as constituted under pre-independence arrangements)”, indicates the document.
The Scottish government should “indicate its wish […] to remain in the EU”
In fact, since Scotland would not be officially an independent state, it could not apply for membership “under Article 49 of the Treaty”, written for non-members. However, “it could indicate its wish for Scotland to remain in the EU”, which “would lead to negotiations in an appropriate framework”. Finally, the proposals to change the Treaties “would be submitted for approval to the EU institutions and the Parliaments of 28 member states and of Scotland”. The changes and Scotland’s EU membership “would come into force on the date of Scottish independence”.
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, “there should be no need, for example, to re-negotiate Scotland’s application of European policies in fields such as environment; transport, agriculture, etc.” The report indicates that it would be enough to “transpose mutatis mutandis the situation that already exists for Scotland within the U.K.” The detailed implications for the remainder of the UK should be negotiated between London and Edinburgh, together with the European Commission. However, “they 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.” Furthermore, regarding Scotland’s request for EU legislation changes, this should “be solved on a temporary basis by means of a roll-over mutatis mutandis of existing arrangements for the U.K.”. 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 – negotiating the United Kingdom’s EU accession – 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’s College of the University of Oxford.