The date on which Scotland will decide its future is fast approaching and the question ”what will happen if Scotland becomes independent from the UK?” is on many people’s minds. One of the main issues is whether Scotland will continue to be a part of the European Union after an eventual independence. According to the Scottish government statistics there are at least 100 000 EU nationals permanently living in Scotland. As I live in Scotland myself, from my own observations many of them are sceptic about the idea of independence mainly because of fear that in case of ceased EU membership they would lose their rights to live, work and receive free education and medical care.
The Scottish government has clearly declared its intention to continue Scotland’s EU membership in its White Paper. However there is a heated debate over whether Scotland would be required to re-apply for membership, and if it could retain the UK's opt-outs. In November 2012 the EU commission offered to provide an opinion to an existing member state on the matter, but the British Government confirmed it would not seek this advice, as it did not want to negotiate the terms of independence ahead of the referendum. This is very convenient for the “Better together” campaign since one of its main headlines against Scottish independence is the threat of losing its membership in the EU. It is interesting to note that the same politicians who are scaring Scotland with loss of membership proposed a referendum in 2017 on the UK's membership of the EU….
Those fears were fed by the comments of Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, saying it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for an independent Scotland to secure the agreement of all 28 member states to join the EU. Let us see, however, some background on Barroso at the time, which may shed some light on why a politician of his calibre is openly taking sides in the matter. It is publicly known that Barroso aspires to become the next Secretary-general of NATO. The current one – Andres Fogh Rasmussen will finish his term on 30th September 2014. There is no formal process for selection and procedure often takes place through informal diplomatic channels and thus Barroso wants to secure the support of both David Cameron and Barack Obama, who was also making similar comments asking Scotland to stay in the Union. This is not surprising since the USA sells nuclear weapons to the UK for billions of dollars and independence will cut out the only nuclear base capable to store them. If Scotland votes Yes, the rest of the UK would not be able to afford the construction of a new base and therefore the nuclear trade with the US will have to cease. (Too bad for business, right Obama?) Which bring us on the next point:
SCOTLAND: A SUCCESSOR STATE, OR A NEW STATE?
Let's assume that the EU demands that Scotland must re-apply to join the Union, but England-Wales-Northern Ireland remained a member. This would mean that Scotland is considered an entirely new state. In that circumstance, international law is very clear that Scotland would not be bound by any of the obligations of the UK. Amongst other things, that means that Scotland would not be required to take on a single penny of UK national debt. UK national debt is a UK obligation. So it's very much in Westminster's interests to ensure that Scotland is treated as a joint successor state and that Scotland remains a member of the EU, otherwise we, the rest of UK, will deal with an external debt of 10,090,000,000,000 dollars (second highest in the world), while Scotland walks free.
Another point: the UK was formed by the Union of Scotland and England in 1707. The state formed by that Union signed the EU membership treaties. When Scotland becomes independent, then the UK ceases to exist, and England-Wales-Northern-Ireland are in exactly the same legal situation as Scotland, because the state comprising England Wales and Northern Ireland didn't sign the EU accession treaties either.
In any case, under article 48 of the Treaty of Lisbon the matter would be decided by a majority vote in the EU Council, so no country could veto Scottish membership on its own (which also refutes the claims that Spain would veto Scotland because of Catalonia and their pleas for independence).
EVERYONE WANTS SCOTLAND
And here is why:
* According to the International monetary fund, Scotland’s GDP per capita is 44 378 Int$, which would make it the 9th wealthiest country in the world. From the first 8 countries there is only one EU member – Luxembourg. The United Kingdom is 21st with 37, 307 Int$.
* Edinburgh: Scotland's capital city is Europe's fourth largest financial centre by equity assets. Royal bank of Scotland group is the 7th largest bank in Europe and 17th in the world by assets.
* Scotland has strong economic ties and trade with Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, which are among the main export partners.
* If the European Union rejects Scotland as a member, it will lose billions in net contributions - each member state contributes 0.7 % of its gross income and 0.3 % of the value added tax revenue and as we saw above Scotland is to be the second wealthiest member state.
Having said all that, “it would be extremely stupid, if not madness” for the EU to lose Scotland and complicate its membership, because of….well there is no apparent reason why this would happen. Maybe Westminster will be keen to explain.