EU membership hinges on terms of entry

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I refer to Douglas Turner’s letter (14 May) regarding ­Scotland’s membership of the European Union.

I will resist the urge to cite other opinions given by professors of EU law and the
Minister for Europe at the Foreign Office et al and would just say that, of course, there is no reason why an independent Scotland would not be welcome to join the EU.

All that would be required is for all other members to unanimously agree Scotland’s terms of entry.

Given the extreme resentment, bitterness and anger among all other states regarding the UK opt-outs on the euro, Schengen and VAT on food, children’s clothes, books and new houses etc – not to mention the most contentious of all, the UK rebate – it seems to me that the SNP’s claim that Scotland will seamlessly enter the EU and inherit these
advantages, which are not
enjoyed by other member states, is as fanciful as Alex Salmond guaranteeing a shipyard worker on television some weeks ago that Royal Navy ships would still be built in an independent Scotland.

Membership on the same terms as other member states would mean VAT on food of at least 5 per cent.

It would also mean
Scotland not having a rebate, as it couldn’t share the UK’s
rebate as an independent member state.

It is worth pointing out that the UK gets a rebate of 66 per cent of its contributions to the EU, totalling about £3.2 billion a year paid for by all other members.

Hence the anger directed towards the UK.

Scotland’s share of the UK rebate is about £300 million a year.

Scotland would not only lose this as an independent member but would in addition have to contribute to the UK rebate like everybody else.

Donald Lewis

Beech Hill

Gifford, East Lothian

Over the past two weeks or so, Alex Salmond has put his foot in his mouth right up to the elbow.

First by praising the Ukrainians’ bogeyman, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and then, showing an utter lack of political astuteness, by threatening the EU that, unless an independent Scotland were automatically made a member, he would blockade the North Sea, which would be entirely
contrary to international law.

Having put Europeans’ noses out of joint, as well as those of the Ukrainian
community in Scotland, a poll found that the SNP share of the referendum vote had dropped.

At this point, it is claimed by an SNP MP that a mysterious Mori poll showing “a rise in support” for independence has been “hidden by the
Cabinet Office” (your report, 14 May).

It seems odd such a Mori poll should come out, when its 9 May poll shows Union
support at 59 per cent and
separatists’ at 31 per cent, showing “a strengthening of the Unionist position”, as Mori puts it, up seven points since its last poll.

Stewart Hosie’s belief in this poll is rather like belief in The Book of Mormon – supposedly inscribed on gold sheets, which have since vanished and were apparently only ever seen by one man.

Perhaps the poll does exist. Alternatively, it is also
possible that it, rather like the SNP’s supposed legal advice on automatic EU entry for an independent Scotland, never existed.

But then why should the SNP care if it helps wilting votes?

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive

Edinburgh

Douglas Turner (Letters, 14 May) seems to be interpreting my admission that I am not an expert in EU law to mean that my opinion is wrong.

On the contrary it is Mr Turner who is “clutching at straws” in claiming that I am “grasping at nuances in
statements made by Professor Neil Walker and Mr Graham Avery”.

Could Mr Turner please
explain what is “nuanced” about the statements discussing the acceptance within the EU of “a new Scottish state” or “Scotland would not yet be a member of the EU”?

These words would seem to confirm unambiguously my claim that Scotland is not
currently a member state of the EU and cannot therefore “continue” to be one.

Mr Turner accuses me of a “hard-line stance” that
Scotland would be “unable to join the EU”. That is unfair.

I have said consistently that I believe Scotland would not encounter great difficulty in being accepted within the EU.

The difficulties would arise in relation to the terms.

The negotiations over these would be political not legal as Alan Oliver (14 May) points out.

But is it likely that a cash-strapped Greece or Spain is going to readily confer
favourable terms – such as a rebate – upon a new Scottish state?

The opinion of Mr Avery is that there would be “difficult” negotiations on the budget and on fisheries.

This issue will not “run its course” until both sides tell the truth.

The Yes campaign must
desist from claiming that Scotland will somehow seamlessly continue to be a member of the EU.

While the No campaign must desist from claiming that it would be virtually
impossible for an independent Scotland to join the EU.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh