Comment: Salmond, Scotland and the EU – time for the first minister to finally come clean

Following the letter from the EC confirming Scotland would have to apply to rejoin the EU, James Hallwood looks back on another woeful week for Alex Salmond.

Following the letter to the Lords European Union committee from the European Commission confirming an independent Scotland would have to apply to rejoin the EU, James Hallwood looks at the pitfalls that lie ahead for Alex Salmond

The letter flies in the face of the SNP’s long held position Scotland would automatically remain a member and also brings into question, once more, the reason for their apparent lack of legal advice on this critical issue. While the letter awaits formal ratification it is in line with previous advice that seceding from the UK would make Scotland a ‘third country’ outside of the EU.

This would mean having to re-apply for membership via the criteria of Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty – i.e. with the unanimous support of the member states. Given Spain, amongst others, has already voiced concerns about the precedent this would set, there can be no guarantee Scotland would be admitted back into the European Union.

As the framer of this referendum, the Scottish government has a duty to provide the pros, cons, knowns and unknowns of Scottish independence – wishful thinking is simply not enough; the Scottish people deserve the facts.

An independent Scotland could in theory re-join the EU but would not automatically be a member – therefore the details of a potential settlement are crucial to the decision of the Scottish electorate. The European Commission has stated the remnants of the UK would maintain EU membership and thus all of the opt-outs, redlines and rebate successive British governments have secured over the years.

Assuming Scotland is accepted into the EU, in line with other new accession countries, she would not have any of these and would therefore be expected to join Schengen and the euro – again contrary to what the SNP has set out.

Furthermore, the Council of the European Union weights votes of member states by their population size. Britain currently joins France and Germany at the top with 29 votes – but an independent Scotland would likely join other countries with a comparative population, like Slovakia, with 7 votes. It would not just be losing the seat at the UN Security Council that would lessen Scotland’s voice in the world.

There is, of course, another scenario – Scotland is not admitted into the European Union.

This isn’t as unlikely as it sounds, as accession requires unanimous support from all current members. When one considers the numerous secession movements in Europe one can easily see how the precedent of independence followed by EU membership and investment would worry some countries – it takes only one member to veto Scotland’s application – or at least negotiate a very unattractive package to an acceding Scotland.

Even now, five EU countries continue to refuse recognition of an independent Kosovo. Four years on, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain remain opposed. They present a multitude of reasons but all share the common factor of separatist movements in their own territory. Indeed the very issue of the precedent it would set to Catalonia or the Basque regions was raised in the Spanish parliament in argument against recognition.

Last year, Catalonian voters gave a majority to separatist parties. These parties seek a referendum on independence from Spain followed by EU membership. The similarities to Scotland are obvious, so much so that Salmond refused to comment on Catalan independence, well aware Spain could likely be the stumbling block to his plans.

The SNP is also a member of the European Free Alliance grouping in the European Parliament – with separatist parties from 14 other states. These represent just some of the many nationalist movements from across Europe that look to Scotland as a model to follow. A model that states as diverse as Belgium and Bulgaria have an interest in preventing succeed.

Time and time again the SNP has made statements on EU membership that are contradicted by the British government, international law experts, member states and now the EU itself. Salmond has a responsibility to make clear the price of Scottish independence; the onus is on him to present the risks so the Scottish people can make an informed decision.

The principles of unionism and separatism should outweigh the benefits of EU membership. But presenting a false future for Scotland does the ‘yes’ campaign no credit. An unfavourable settlement or no EU membership at all torpedoes Salmond’s vision for Scotland. Scots should know that leaving the UK could mean they are, quite literally, going it alone.

See also:

Another blow for Salmond – Scottish businesses say No to IndependenceDecember 7th, 2012

It’s official: Independent Scotland would have to reapply for EU membershipDecember 7th, 2012

David Miliband: Scotland can’t just “leave the UK on Friday, join the EU on Monday”November 24th, 2012

Legal ding-dong on EU advice as Clegg wades in to Holyrood scrapNovember 2nd, 2012

Advice? What advice? Salmond finds himself in more hot water over EU ‘lies’October 29th, 2012

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71 Responses to “Comment: Salmond, Scotland and the EU – time for the first minister to finally come clean”

  1. douglas clark


    Nothing underhand about it. My comment asked a simple enough question:

    Are you James Hallwood, or not?

    From your final sentence, I am somewhat relieved to discover that you aren’t. However several other posters appear to be under that misapprehension.

    As my previous comment on this thread is – to the best of my recollection – the only time I have ever commented here, I fail to see what other posts you can be referring to.

  2. Holebender

    According to France is ranked 52 in the list of oil producing countries, while Germany sits at number 45. Their combined oil production is less than Denmark’s (number 38). Meanwhile the UK sits at number 20, with five times the oil production of Denmark. After independence Scotland would still be at number 20 with five times Denmark’s output, and the rest of the UK would sit at number 49, between Romania and Chad.

    Facts are chiels that winna ding…

  3. Bill C

    James Connolly was a member of various socialist organisations during his short lifetime, none of which could be remotely compared to the centre right policies of the present day Labour Party. To indulge in such comparison, is to mock the memory of one of Scotland’s greatest socialist thinkers. I note that you conveniently fail to acknowledge that John Mclean and Jimmy Reid were both committed to an independent Scotland.

    As to your last point on my “behaviour”, I am at a loss to undertstand what is anti-democratic about arguing for self determination for your own country. I assume that you would support self determination for other peoples e.g. The Palistinians; it is rather peculiar therefore, that you obviously do not support self determination for the Scottish people.

  4. Spammo Twatbury

    Wow. Poor old newsbot9’s been teetering on the edge of a total mental breakdown on the subject of Scotland for quite a while now, but I see he’s finally taken the leap. Exactly how many independent assessments declaring the SNP to be the most left-wing party in any Parliament in Britain (with the sole arguable exception of that one lonely Green MP) do we need before these demented lunatics accept the simple reality? Do we need to post that link for a 20,000th time?

    The SNP is not winning seats in poor urban parts of Glasgow that have been held by Labour since some time in the 12th century by being on the far right. You’d imagine that would be the first page in the first folder at the front of the “Bleeding Obvious” drawer in the filing cabinet, but apparently not to this frothing nutjob,

  5. Hen Broon

    Your public humiliation and meltdown on here is really pathetic you should just go back under your stone with the rest of your black ops squad every time you lot try and fling mud it ends up all over your faces, really hilarious try some of this advice.

    By Martin Kelly

    Incessant negativity coming from the anti-independence camp could backfire according to a top pro-Union businessman.

    Durward, who is the managing director of Cloburn Quarry Company, has
    written to Better Together head Alistair Darling urging the Labour MP to
    focus on a more positive message instead.

    According to the Sunday Times, in his letter Mr Durward said that
    “constantly lining up people to denigrate Scotland’s options and
    capabilities could easily backfire and there are already signs of this”.

    The businessman added: “Unionists must of course counter the campaign
    for separation, but the best way to get a result will be to concentrate
    on what can be achieved rather than on what is allegedly beyond us.

    “Scotland has significant problems in education, health care,
    housing, employment, transport and finance, so why not put your
    collective brainpower, political experience and media access into
    identifying solutions for these issues?”

    The businessman has suggested another cross party parallel group,
    Better Scotland, be set up that would allow the country’s challenges to
    be addressed.

    He added: “You have gathered an impressive team, you have two years
    to influence the outcome but it can only be done in a positive manner.
    At present you risk making matters worse.”

    The warning follows an almost constant flow of scares and negativity
    often portraying a post-referendum apocalyptic scenario with an
    independent Scotland unable to sustain itself. Scares have included
    claims that an independent Scotland would be forced to join the Euro,
    that the rest of the UK would cease trading with Scotland and bizarrely
    that electricity generated in Scotland that currently helps keep the
    lights on south of the border would no longer be purchased.

    Speaking to the Sunday Times, a Better Together spokesman denied that the No campaign was too negative.

    He said: “Our campaign message is an entirely positive one. Scotland
    has achieved great things as part of the union and we also believe there
    is much more we can do in the future when we stand together with our
    friends, families and workmates from across Britain.”

    The attack by a leading businessman follows a recent decision by the
    Scottish TUC not to join Labour alongside their Tory and Lib Dem

    The negative attacks are expected to continue this week following
    figures published last week by the Office for Budget Responsibility

    The body, created by Chancellor George Osborne after the 2010 general
    election, last week forecast a fall in North Sea extraction levels and
    oil prices. The figures have been used by the Centre for Public Policy
    for Regions (CPPR) in order to suggest that Scotland’s deficit will be
    greater than that of the UK in 2014/15.

    According to the Sunday Times, the OBR forecasts – described by the
    SNP as pessimistic – which claims oil receipts will fall by fifty per
    cent over the next two years have been used by Professor John McLaren of
    the CPPR to paint a gloomy picture of the Scottish economy.

    Mr McLaren’s report follows recently published figures that indicate
    an independent Scotland would currently have a deficit which was less
    than it shoulders as part of the UK.

    The gloomy prediction by the OBR follows similar claims made by the
    body in July this year when it forecast that by 2040 North Sea oil would
    generate receipts only half that previously expected.

    In July it said: “Our projections for oil and gas prices are also
    lower than last year…oil prices rise from $95 a barrel in 2016 to $173
    a barrel in 2040.

    “This compares with a projection in last year’s report of a rise from $107 a barrel in 2015, rising to $206 a barrel in 2040.”

    However the body’s reputation as an accurate forecaster suffered a blow this year after it was forced to admit its previous forecasts on the UK economic performance were widely inaccurate.

    In December last year, just months after being formed, the body was
    forced to revise UK growth figures from its initial projection of 2.5%
    growth for 2012 down to just 0.7%. Official figures last week showed
    that the UK economy in fact shrank by 0.1% throughout 2012.

    Appearing in front of a Commons Treasury Select Committee in July
    2012, OBR head Robert Chote conceded that the chance of OBR predictions
    being “bang on the nail” were “practically nil”. The appearance
    followed another prediction that claimed snow over Christmas last year
    would reduce the chances of the UK slipping back into recession.

    In fact the heavy snowfall that eventually hit the UK was one of the
    factors blamed for plunging the UK into a double dip recession in April.

  6. Hen Broon

    Q. What did Labour do for Scotland in 13 years in government?
    A. They increased the gap between the rich and the poor. ” I am intensely relaxed bout people becoming filthy rich.” Mandelson.

  7. douglas clark

    James Hallwood,

    Perhaps as the author of this op-ed you would care to comment on the inaccuaracies that it contains?

    I can, to some extent, sympathise on the grounds that you actually have to dig quite a bit to find out that the story going around is, ahem, less than accurate. Corrections are not readily available and it must have sounded so appealingly authentic to justify the post.

    Unfortunately, it is mince.

    It would be good to feel that we were all on a level playing field, here.

    Because, independenistas have to persuade people who read sites like this that, if you live in Scotland and quite like the settlement that we have, then you just can’t vote Labour and a vote for independence would be quite smart.

    Lamont – that’s the Labour Party Leader in Scotland or some such panjandram title – is already in full Thatcherite mode with her ‘end to universality’ and ‘means testing’, the former being explicit, the latter implicit.

    For that nonsense to be effective, it will not attack the millionaires alone, it will have to attack people on less than median incomes. That is the reality of a ‘means testing’ environment that pays for the people, employed by the state, whose jobs add nothing to the economy and might be persuaded that they are lackeys of a socialist bureaucracy whose sole intent is it’s own survival. Until, of course, the Tories hand it over to the private sector who will cut through the crap and just cut everyone’s benefits. Make obscene profits and run away to a tax haven.

    If you want that, vote Labour in Scotland. Because that is what you are promised. That’s what Labour says it wants.

    A more general point about what we have now as a Labour Party in Scotland is that they have been hung out to dry by their own leaderships, remember the people that earn a lot of money by being MEPs, MP,s and MSP’s?

    There is an old joke that every scandal that embraces the Conservatives is to do with sex, and every scandal that embraces the Labour Party is to do with money. Because you always want what you haven’t got.

    I guess it is a tad superceeded by Tories chasing expenses and such like, but it still has some validity. The comment above about Peter Madelson being relaxed about money probably answers the question about how we have become so rich at the top and so poor at the bottom. This is something that hangs around Labour as a badge of shame. At least I hope it does on a site called ‘Left Foot Forward’.

    There are very clever brains in the Labour Party, not least in the Fabian Society, but they have not, (cannot?) address the issue of triangulation where one that works for ‘swing seats’ in South East England just looks like a complete sell out of any socialist values whatsoever elsewhere.

    That form of party politics, a betrayal of principle, is why Labour is teetering on the brink of being a busted flush in Scotland, and I suspect, in the North of England too.

    We are lucky to have a genuinely social democratic party to vote for. If it were anything like the caricature that Newsbot 9 imagined it to be I would run a hundred miles to get away from it. It would behove your chum to understand how civic nationalism differs from the shit the BNP spout.

    It stands, inter alia, for:

    No nukes

    Universality of care for everyone that needs it

    A Green policy. Non nuke, sustainable from tide and wind and the other resources we already have.

    Free education to tertiary level at least

    An NHS free at the point of delivery and not exploited by the private sector, which I understand you are already losing,

    Something a tad better than PFI,

    Oh!, and a non-privatised water and sewerage system. We always forget about that one.

    It is extremely odd that people in England don’t want or vote for the same things.

    People up here, and in the North of England appear to be a lot more sympathetic to asylum seekers than the South East. I would doubt any independent government in Scotland would operate a system where the state deliberately hurt families. That is just another example, along with ATOS and the rest that makes me, really, really want to leave. And no, I am not at all happy that ATOS are providing IT facilities to the Commonwealth games. As far as I am concerned they can rot in hell.

    Best wishes with your blog.

  8. Dorothy Devine

    Why do I have to sign in to rate your daft comment?

  9. Dorothy Devine

    Why do I have to sign in to rate your daft comment?

  10. Dorothy Devine

    Why do I have to sign in to rate your daft comment?

  11. Dorothy Devine

    I’m not sure I should thank the chap who directed my attention to this site .

    The article is twaddle and has been proved so to be.

    Incidentally ,why is anyone getting their knickers in a twist using the “Scotland will have to re-apply to the EU whooo!” when south of the border they are sooooo keen to extricate themselves?
    Anyway ,won’t be bothered visiting again.

  12. Mike Guillaume

    One thing is certain: EUrocracy wouldn’t have supported Irish independence (Bosnia et al. seem to be easier cases just because they are outside). As to Scotland…

  13. Newsbot9

    Almost certainly because of the sock puppet situation.

  14. Newsbot9

    Ah yes, the usual outraged squalling of a good little far right totalitarian when he’s caught out accusing people of mental illness with no reason or evidence again.

    I don’t care what you copy/paste, you’re no better than any of your thugs.

  15. Newsbot9

    The labour of Connolly’s time was left wing, and centralist is not right wing, even today. Mocking? Not at all, you’re engaging in revisionism – parties can change, as Labour did, but Labour did a fantastic job, especially in the era of Bevin and Atlee.

    And as usual, you’re talking nonsense. I support self-determination, including for the Palestinians (the two-state solution), Scotland AND the Isles. Not selectively.

    And of course, the region you live in isn’t a country yet, you’re confusing your aspirations with the situation as it stands. You’ve got your vote, for flip sake – there’s no NEED for much of the denial and lies slung by the Scottish right.

  16. Newsbot9

    Your clam was an absolute, so yes, you were quite wrong. Thanks for admitting this.

    And when the Falklands come online? And what about the minor fact that the Isles are not interested in rule from Scotland, if London can offer them a better deal?

  17. Newsbot9

    Ah right, the facts are wrong, you’re going to use denial for power. You’re the fat pig around here, noble.

  18. Newsbot9

    …The thing is, while they are as history puts them, your own behavior is
    very, very far from their views, Mike. They were not anti-Democrats.

  19. Newsbot9

    Except, of course, I’ve done no such thing. You’re fighting windmills as usual, in your pursuit of any lie you can tell. I’m not defending anything, I’m pointing out your rabid attack on Britain.

  20. Newsbot9

    Labour didn’t do enough, no, given they left the left behind.

    What have the SNP done about it? Oh right, favoured Murdoch.

  21. Newsbot9

    That’s right, you stand for pricing the poor out of power. That’s all people need to know about your policies, frankly.

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