Scotland, if independent, could not assume that rejoining the EU would be easy—or cheapby John Kerr / January 23, 2013 / Leave a comment
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond could find his country locked out of the EU after a secessionist success in the 2014 referendum (© Getty Images)
President José Manuel Barroso confirmed at the end of last year that if Scotland won independence from London after a referendum vote for secession, this would mean, ipso facto, that Scotland had left the EU.
This was to the chagrin of Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, who has undertaken to hold a referendum on independence in 2014, and who last year assured members of the Scottish Parliament that “oil-rich, gas-rich, energy-rich Scotland, fishing-rich Scotland, will be welcomed with open arms in the European Union.” The Scottish National Party (SNP) has implied that Scotland would be automatically an EU member, with Brussels simply setting another place at the table. Alas, the process would be much more complex and costly.
Barroso’s news shouldn’t have come as a surprise: the president of the European Commission was merely repeating the position explained by Romano Prodi, his predecessor. In April 2004, Prodi told the European Parliament that: “When a part of the territory of a member state ceases to be part of that state, for instance because the 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 date of its independence, not apply any more.” If the new country wished the EU treaties to apply to it again, he added, there would need to be “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.”
So an independent Scotland would need to go through the same accession process as have all but the original six member states, a process which the Croats have just successfully completed, but in which the Turks are bogged down. Readmission would be possible for Scots only when every existing member state had agreed to every detail of the terms. And even then an adverse parliamentary or referendum vote on ratification, in any EU capital, could still sink the ship.…