Van Rompuy raises doubts over SNP EU policy

The Scottish government’s position on the status of an independent Scotland within the European Union has been cast into doubt by the President of the European Council.

herman van rompuy JPEG

The Scottish government’s position on the status of an independent Scotland within the European Union has been cast into further doubt by the President of the European Council.

Responding to the news that political parties in the Spanish region of Catalonia have agreed that they will seek a referendum next year on independence, Herman Van Rompuy has made clear that if any part of an EU member state opts for independence it becomes a new country outside of the EU.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Van Rompuy explained:

“If a part of the territory of a Member State ceases to be a part of that state because that territory becomes a new independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory.

“In other words, a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the Union and the treaties would, from the day of its independence, not apply anymore on its territory.”

His words echo comments made by President of the Commission Jose Manuel Barroso last year.

Responding, a spokesperson for the Scottish government argued that they were only relevant to the situation in Spain. The spokesperson expanded:

“It is clear that Scotland can negotiate the specific terms of independent membership of the European Union from within the EU, in the 18-month period between a vote for independence and independence day itself in March 2016.

“That is a position backed by many leading international experts and endorsed by the European Commission in recent correspondence – and it is a timescale described by the UK government’s own legal adviser as ‘realistic’.”

Opposition parties at Holyrood have concluded, however, that Van Rompuy’s comments blow away the SNP’s belief that an independent Scotland would somehow get a free pass to automatically join the EU.

The Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson responded:

“An independent Scotland wouldn’t call the shots in negotiating entry to the EU, nor would it get any special treatment.

“It would join the back of the same queue as every other country. Mr Van Rompuy blows away Alex Salmond’s assertion in the White Paper that an Independent Scotland could use a special means of entry.”

Scottish Labour’s External Affairs spokesperson Patricia Ferguson declared the Scottish government’s position to be “no longer tenable”, and went on to accuse Alex Salmond of simply sticking his fingers in his ears when people say things he doesn’t like to hear.

6 Responses to “Van Rompuy raises doubts over SNP EU policy”

  1. uglyfatbloke

    However My Van Rompuy – like Cameron and Salmond – dose not actually understand the construction of the UK. Whatever gloss he wants to put on it, the purpose of Salmond’s referendum is to dissolve the Treaty of 1707 which formed the UK out of the kingdoms of England and Scotland. No other parties were involved and the Irish Union of 1800.1801 has no bearing on the 1707 job. If Salmond gets a ‘yes’ vote (unlikely) there will be, constitutionally speaking, no United Kingdom at all, though of course the part that is not Scotland could call itself whatever it chose. It is not crystal clear that either party would have an automatic right to be considered a successor state in any particular regard – EU/NATO/whatever.
    Perhaps more importantly, whatever Salmon says, it is not clear that Scotland would actually;y be best served by continuing membership. A number of scholars and experts think Scotland would get a better deal negotiating from outside. There again, perhaps Mr.Rompuy was n’t talking about Scotland at all, but about Catalonia or Corsica or Sicily or Belgium, each of which have very different constitutional structures.

  2. robertcp

    I am not sure that it is necessary for Van Rompuy to know the history and constitution of every member state of the EU. It is obvious that Scotland will have a lot of negotiating to do if it becomes independent.

  3. uglyfatbloke

    Totally…I just don’t think Cameron realises that he’ll have to negotiate as well. Salmond probably thinks that Scotland can avoid – for example – Schengen….no chance. Cameron probably thinks he can hang on to other opt-outs and the rebate….no chance.

  4. swatnan

    It makes sense. But there must be a fast track application for countries like Scotland. Could they do it all in a week I wonder? After all Scotlands credentials are beyund reproach, unlike say Turkey which should not be admitted.

  5. uglyfatbloke

    Sense….sense! What place does that have in a political context! Next thing you know we’d be looking for fairness and practicality…..then where would be?
    There are several factors that both sides have studiously avoided, The history is just one of them. Another is how the practicalities of excluding Scotland from the EU or NATO- even temporarily – would actually work….no EU fishing in Scottish waters, no submarines at Faslane, no RAF stations and (I’ guessing) 100,000 or more EU nationals having to go elsewhere pending the re-introduction of of EU travel and residency arrangements. Suppose a non-EU Scotland decided that whisky, agricultural products could only be exported from Scottish ports or that to qualify for the name ‘Scotch’ a company would have to have it’s HQ in Scotland?
    it is still all pretty academic – Better Together still has a healthy lead in the polls – though there is clearly some doubt about sampling and so on that suggests that the lead is not so great as all that. Unless better Together can get out of the way of daft sabre rattling the campaign is going to look increasingly desperate and increasingly silly.
    There;s a bigger question about what happens next. If Labour (the Tories are obviously going nowhere in all this) can produce a better alternative to “maybe some more devolution possibly if there’s a ‘no’ vote” all that will happen is that the gnats will get a runaway victory at the next GE and that certainly won’t help Ed win a majority.. If the gnats get 40%+ of the vote then they will stand to get at least 30 seats and quite possibly as many as 40. If they do as well as they did at the last Holyrood election they could actually get more than 40 since the glib-dumbs are going to get a thumping in England and Wales but they are going to pretty much go out of business in Scotland like the Tories did at the first Blair election.

  6. robertcp

    You are probably right but it will take more than a week. Countries like Belgium and Spain will want to make life difficult for an independent Scotland.

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