According to Professor Ken Armstrong of the Department of European Law at Cambridge University, answering questions on Scotland’s position regarding joining the EU after independence to a Scottish Common Affairs Committee on independence in January, the position is as follows.
Following independence, Scotland would no longer be in the EU and would have to negotiate its way back in. This can be done in two ways.
Under clause 49 of the European Treaty, the accession route, Scotland would start from scratch and would hold its own negotiations with the rest of the EU.
In this regard it would be in control of its own negotiations. The other route, which, bizarrely, is the SNP’s preferred route, according to the white paper on independence, is via clause 48.
Clause 48 is the continuing state route but this means that the existing continuing member, ie rUK, would be responsible for initiating and carrying out the negotiations on Scotland’s behalf.
The negotiations would cover 35 chapters of the EU treaty and on conclusion Scotland’s application would have to be approved by the parliaments of all 28 member states, as well as their governments. During the many months, or years, of this process, during which Scotland would be outside of the EU, we have no knowledge of what benefits Scotland currently enjoys as an EU member within the UK would be available.
Things like Scotland’s share of the rebate, farmers’ funding and many other benefits would presumably be unavailable as Scotland wouldn’t be a member state.
First Minister Alex Salmond has a habit of quoting so-called “eminent” individuals to support his views.
His latest is to quote Jim Currie, a former director general of the EU Commission, who has criticised Jose Manuel Barroso’s warning about the potential difficulties relating to independent Scotland’s membership of the EU.
Since Currie left the EU Commission in 2001 I would suggest he is hardly qualified to pronounce on the current position on such issues.
No doubt the First Minster is now searching for some other allegedly “eminent” individual to discredit the views of the European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, who has subsequently echoed the EU Commission president’s warnings.
The First Minister cannot deliver a currency union and neither can Chancellor George Osborne or his shadow Ed Balls rule one out completely. The majority of people in Scotland want one but they comprise a mere 12th of the total population that would live in such a currency union.
The final decision should be with the voters of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Surely the First Minister and his team recognise that democracy does not stop at the Border going south – politicians can advise and suggest but to force a currency union on the electorate south of the Border without their consent is a recipe for years of dispute.
(Dr) Roger I Cartwright