15 Sep 2012
The Scottish Conservatives have produced a series of arguments from leading EU figures indicating there would be no automatic entry into Europe for a separate Scotland.
The row was reignited this week when European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said any new state, if it wants to join the EU, would have to apply like anyone else.
Despite this, First Minister Alex Salmond again refused to reveal whether or not the Scottish Government had sought legal advice on the issue.
And today the Scottish Conservatives have produced more evidence from a range of experts which supports Mr Barroso’s position.
These include remarks by Dr Jo Murkens, an expert in European and Constitutional Law at the London School of Economics, stating in 2001: “Continued cover by the EU treaty of the Scottish territory would only be possible with the approval of all member states.”
Evidence has also been uncovered from former EC president Romano Prodi, who said in 2004: “When a part of a territory of a member state ceases to be part of the state – eg because that territory becomes and independent state – the treaties will no longer apply to that territory.”
And in 2007, European Commissioner Joe Borg added: “Scotland, as a newly independent state, would have to apply for membership.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“A succession of experts going back over ten years have come to the same conclusion that a newly independent Scotland would not have an automatic place in the European Union, yet Alex Salmond continues to claim the opposite without producing a shred of evidence to back up his case.
“Instead he spends thousands of taxpayers’ pounds to avoid even admitting he has sought legal advice on this key issue.
“His promise of a white paper in November next year is nothing but a delaying tactic to escape from admitting what European constitutional experts already know; if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom it will then have to apply to join, a process which could take years.
“And as a new country it will have no choice but to leave the pound and join the Euro.
“New countries also have to abide by the fiscal compact – meaning an independent Scotland would have little sovereignty over banking or taxation and almost certainly have higher corporation tax than the rest of the UK putting it at a competitive disadvantage.
“It is an SNP fantasy that there will be no change in our relationship with Europe after independence, a fantasy deliberately concocted to hoodwink the Scottish public.
“Alex Salmond needs to be honest about what independence would actually mean for Scotland and the consequences of such a vote.
“Instead, he spends hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money trying to keep such information from the Scottish people while he devises a ‘dodgy dossier’ of his own to write into a white paper a year from now.”
Notes to Editors
Below are the full quotes and sources from each of the three individuals:
Dr Jo Murkens:
In the Constitution Unit’s 2001 paper Scotland’s Place in Europe, Murkens concludes:
“There is no automatic right to membership of the European Union. State succession to treaties has to be governed by the nature of the treaty. Continued cover by the EU Treaty of the Scottish territory would thus only be possible with the approval of all Member States.” (p. 16)
Dr Murkens notes in relation to admission negotiations:
“Scotland could decide to make use of its newly gained independence and renegotiate the terms of membership. It might, for instance, try and secure a better deal on fisheries than the UK did or demand more money for the Highlands and Islands out of the Structural Funds. Once Scotland starts cherry picking, adopting the legislation it likes and rejecting the legislation it does not, it will meet with resistance from and tough negotiations with other Members. The question then becomes how much time and resources the other Member States want to invest if Scotland enters negotiations in a spirit of confrontation and conflict. Scotland’s strategy could easily backfire and it may end up having to relinquish access to fishing grounds, for instance, in order to ‘buy off’ some Member States.”
The preceding was given as the position of the European Commission by its then-president Romano Prodi in 2004, in response to a question by Welsh Labour MEP Eluned Morgan (now Baroness Morgan of Ely).
“The European Communities and the European Union have been established by the relevant treaties among the Member States. The treaties apply to the Member States (Article 299 of the EC Treaty). When a part of the territory of a Member State ceases to be a part of the state, e.g. because that territory becomes an independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory. In other words, a newly independent region 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.
Under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, any European State which respects the principles set out in Article 6(1) of the Treaty on European Union may apply to become a member of the Union. An application of this type requires, if the application is accepted by the Council acting unanimously, a negotiation on an agreement between the Applicant State and the Member States on the conditions of admission and the adjustments to the treaties which such admission entails. This agreement is subject to ratification by all Member States and the Applicant State”
Whilst the Commission has not given an official response to the specific instance of Scotland’s position, European Commissioner Joe Borg volunteered the following:
“if, for one moment, we were to assume that Scotland gained independence and therefore is eligible as a new member state for the European Union, I would see that, legally speaking, the continuation of the membership would remain with the rest of the UK – less Scotland. And, therefore, Scotland, as a newly independent state, would have to apply for membership.” (Scotsman, Sept 2007)