Alone in Europe
The silence maintained by Alex Salmond on Scotland’s EU accession difficulties cannot hide the facts. Membership of the EU requires unanimous agreement from all 27 existing member states – hence Turkey being kept on hold by Cyprus.
The governments of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Cyprus (and of a future Rest-of-UK) all face an unwelcome one, or two, secessionist movements. Can anyone doubt that at least one, if not all, of them would use an application from Scotland as the opportunity to send the severest discouragement to separatists?
The rule book will be thrown at Scotland. That every state must have its own bank regulator is just one example. What hope could Alex Salmond have of Scotland keeping all the UK’s opt-outs? How could he avoid Scotland losing its share of the UK’s budget rebate?
John Swinney is equally silent on his proposed sterling zone. He has still to say what possible mechanism there could be for the Bank of England to operate a separate monetary policy to meet a separate Scottish economic policy.
Scotland would depend on the Bank of England to mitigate premium interest rates consequent on being a borrower with no track record, and an economy dependent on the volatilities of oil. In return, Scotland must accept governance by the Bank of England on borrowing constraints and indeed austerity.
That is the inescapable lesson of the eurozone crisis. Independence or interdependence? If we are honest, we have to admit that the last Scottish Parliament, of 1707, was but a talking shop. Alas for the hopes of so many, it seems that history, as they say, repeats itself.
The Rev Archie Black (Letters, 15 September) appears to be making an extraordinary claim. He writes that if Scotland becomes independent “the EU member state (ie UK) will no longer exist”.
He then asks why Scotland “should be treated unequally” by having to re-apply for membership of the EU (even though, if the SNP has its way, it will be Scotland that is leaving the existing member state). He appears to be suggesting that both Scotland and the rest of the UK would have to re-apply for membership if Scotland voted “yes” to independence.
In other words, that a vote by just under 10 per cent of the British population (Scotland) should set the future conditions of the remaining 90 per cent (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) –who would have no vote in the independence referendum!
Scotland already has more MPs per capita than the rest of the UK and MPs who can vote on matters affecting England and Wales (when the reverse does not apply).
But surely 10 per cent of the electorate setting parameters for the international relations of the remaining 90 per cent is taking asymmetric democracy a little too far.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
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