Some commentators, such as Colin Kidd (19-25 January), have suggested that, on voting for independence, Scotland will become a candidate member state of the EU. They are wrong – Scotland will be a member state.
Scotland is already fully aligned with the acquis communautaire and the European Commission has indicated that it would be accepted as a member immediately, with a spokesman telling the Guardian newspaper in 1998 that “Scotland could be admitted to the EU on the same day that it became independent”. And in 2012, EU lawyers told AFP that “Scotland could be treated as one of two successor states, and that a separate seat for Edinburgh would require only a majority vote among member states”.
Further, Aiden O’Neill – a distinguished lawyer – has suggested that citizenship, as enshrined in the Lisbon treaty, is a right that would be upheld by the European Court of Justice; Scotland and the rump UK would both succeed to membership.
There will be formal negotiations, but they have been eased by the Lisbon treaty. MEP numbers are now fixed by formula and vote weighting will disappear in 2014 – measures designed to ease enlargement.
Extending membership to Scotland aligns with the enduring pragmatism of the EU. It has no interest in reducing the size of the community (on the contrary, it is seeking to enlarge to the western Balkans and Iceland). Scotland would be embraced. Energy policy is central to the future of Europe; a nation as energy-rich as ours will be at the heart of that Europe.
On independence, Scotland will no longer be a little-considered region of a recalcitrant UK but a positive member state helping to build a prosperous and secure future. EU membership is a responsibility and an opportunity that we will seize. Scottish politicians will not flounce out of European Council meetings claiming to have wielded an imaginary veto.
The UK is not working. Scotland will be stronger as an independent member state than as part of the UK. Only the powers of an independent nation are sufficient to deal with the challenges we face at home and to represent our interests in supranational organisations.
We Scots have a more European outlook than our friends at Westminster. Scotland is a European nation, steeped in European traditions, with historical ties to other European nations and a strong and enduring sense of its European heritage. José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission’s president, noted in his 2006 Enlightenment Lecture at Edinburgh University that the link between Scots and other Europeans during the Enlightenment of the 18th century created the basis upon which we still conduct much of our political, social and economic life. The links between Scotland and other European nations will help create the foundations for the next 200 years.
Alyn Smith MEP
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