SNP EU plans in serious doubt

Alex Salmond’s plans for independence have received another blow, this time over membership of the European Union.

Another day, another nail in the coffin of Alex Salmond’s plans for independence – this time over membership of the European Union.

According to the plans published by ministers in Scotland on Tuesday, as an existing constituent part of the EU an independent Scotland would, according to the SNP, simply continue to remain within it if it opted for independence. The paper states:

Article 49 of the Treaty of the European Union provides the legal basis, and defines the procedure, for a conventional enlargement where the candidate country is seeking membership from outside the EU. As Scotland joined the EU in 1973 this is not the starting position from which the Scottish Government will be pursuing independent EU membership. Article 49 does not appear to be the appropriate legal base on which to facilitate Scotland’s transition to full EU membership.”

These words, however, have now been cast into considerable doubt following comments made by the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who himself faces a separatist movement in the region of Catalonia.

Speaking yesterday during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, the Prime Minister made clear that Scotland should not expect to be given an automatic place within the EU. He explained:

“It’s very clear to me, as it is for everybody else in the world, that a country that would obtain independence from the EU would remain out of the EU, and that is good for Scottish citizens to know and for all EU citizens to know.”

The Prime Minister continued by saying that the treaties “apply only to member states that have agreed and ratified them, and if a part of one member state cleaves from the member state, it converts itself into a third part with relation to the EU. That is the law and that law applies.”

Responding to the comments on Newsnight Scotland last night, SNP finance secretary John Swinney reiterated the contents of the independence paper, explaining:

“We are members of the European Union.

“Once Scotland votes for independence – a Yes vote in September 2014 – we remain still within the European Union and the day of independence doesn’t happen until 2016.

“So we are doing this from within the European Union as part of our membership.”

Declaring the Spanish PM’s word to have added considerably more uncertainty around the SNP’s proposals, head of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling responded:

“This is another blow to Alex Salmond’s claims that nothing would change if we vote to go it alone. The Spanish Prime Minister has just made it clear that everything would change.

“We now know what the position of the Spanish government would be if we vote for independence.”

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