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Pro-Unionists and other European leaders (largely scared of similar nationalistic moves within their own country) have attempted to scare Scottish voters, arguing that a 'Yes' vote in favor of Scottish Independence ahead of next year referendum would necessitate Scottish re-application to the European Union.  Such statements are largely baseless and ignore important EU legal and political realities.  Irrespective of how Scotland ultimately votes, fear mongering such as this shouldn't factor into the debate (but will likely remain a salient issue in the months ahead).

On September 18, 2014, Scottish voters will head to the polls and vote on a referendum, which if passed, would establish an independent Scottish state, effectively dissolving the 1707 Act of Union which brought Scotland into political union with the United Kingdom in the first place. Despite a spirited nationalist campaign, a slew of recent polls, show that Scottish voters are unlikely to vote 'Yes' on the question of Scottish Independence and instead continue with their present political arrangement of so-called devolution.  That said, Nationalist hopes for an Independent Scotland took a serious blow late last month when Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy declared that an Independent Scotland would have to seek new membership in to the EU.  

The Spanish prime minister has suggested that an independent Scotland would have to apply to become a member of the EU from the outside.

Mariano Rajoy said that if a "region" opted to leave a member state, then it would "remain outside the European Union".

It would then require the agreement of all 28 EU members before it was allowed to join, he said.

The Scottish government aims to negotiate entry from within the EU.

This would be done in the 18 months between a Yes vote and formal secession from the UK, it has said.

Speaking at a media conference during a summit with French president Francois Hollande, Mr Rajoy said: "I do not know the White Paper presented by the Scottish president (sic).

"I would like that the consequences of that secession be presented with realism to Scots.

"Citizens have the right to be well informed and particularly when it's about taking decisions like this one.

"I respect all the decisions taken by the British, but I know for sure that a region that would separate from a member state of the European Union would remain outside the European Union and that should be known by the Scots and the rest of the European citizens".

That said, anyone reading Mr. Rajoy's statement should heed the prime ministers declaration as less of a warning to Scotland and more of a warning directed to Spain's own fractionist regions.
The BBC's Tom Burridge, in Madrid, said the Spanish prime minister's comments were being seen as an implicit warning to the Spanish region of Catalonia, whose autonomous government wants to hold a vote on independence.

Mr Rajoy strongly opposes having an independence referendum in Catalonia, in north-eastern Spain.

But the Catalan government says it plans to announce the date of its referendum, and the question it will put to Catalan voters, before the end of this year.

Should Scotland vote for Independence, however, it is unlikely that Scotland would find itself out of the EU come 2016.
John Swinney, the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary, disputed the conclusion, pointing out that the country is already within the EU. It would not therefore be applying to join, but discussing the terms of its continuing membership, he argued. “We will be negotiating our arrangements and our membership from within the European Union, which is the key point of distinction,” he said.
Likewise, a more recent analysis by the London School of Economics found a Scottish exit from the EU highly unlikely for a number of reasons:
So what is there evidence for? There is evidence that the EU cares a great deal about citizenship. Every person holding the nationality of an EU Member State is afforded EU citizenship as well. As Aidan O’Neill QC has written, this issue would likely be deemed of vital importance should a post-independence Scotland find itself making a case for continuing EU membership in front of the EU Court of Justice. But it may well weigh heavily on the EU Member States as they seek to resolve the problem posed by an independent Scotland through political mechanisms. And this is because of its connection to another concept that the EU cares very deeply about, namely democracy.

Democracy is one of the principles set out at the beginning of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The EU prides itself on being a normative power and seeks to promote democracy in the near abroad as well as the global system. While academics disagree about the real motivation of this commitment – is it genuinely normative and liberal or merely window-dressing for more material interests – nobody argues with the rhetorical commitment.

So there is an issue of what sociologists call ontological security at stake here for the EU. Put simply it is hard to see how the EU can champion the cause of democracy day in, day out, and then deprive those living in Scotland of their EU citizenship as a consequence of exercising a democratic right to vote for independence. It would be virtually impossible, politically, for the EU to square that circle and maintain its coherency as a champion of democracy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Scotland is an interesting case (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, RiveroftheWest

    As I understand it, since they voluntarily joined with England in the Act of Union of 1707, it is their right to leave if they want to.  However, I think other regions, such as Catalonia, forget that they are NOT Scotland, and do not enjoy this special privileged.  

    So my question is, if Catalonia secedes, how is that any different than the American South seceding from the union in 1861, and would Spain be in the right to re-take Catalonia by force?

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:23:08 AM PST

    •  Absolutely not (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GAS, Brian A, DRocks

      Catalonia would be seceding for cultural and linguistic and historic reasons not related to slavery, pluswhich it did not voluntarily join Franco's Spain, but was brutally suppressed. Apples and oranges.

      •  It is apples and oranges (0+ / 0-)

        but on the other hand, thats a bit of revisionist history.  Don't forget that the civil war did not ostensibly start because of slavery; in fact, the slave states that did not secede were allowed to maintain slavery even after the Emancipation Proclamation, until the amendment was passed.

        I guess in my more general question is: given Scotland's special status, what is the legal framework for other regions that don't have to status seceding?

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:57:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mike Kahlow

          The official reason for the start of the war is not the sole nor even primary determiner of the justness of a war or other action. What's more, I would argue strongly that slavery indeed was the catalyst on which the civil war was based. While the Union was, of course, not an abolitionist state, it nonetheless had strong designs on closing the west to slavery. This is one of the major reasons why the election of Lincoln did lead to the civil war. It certainly isn't as black and white as "the Union fought to end slavery", but to say slavery was the cause of the civil war is not revisionist, even if it requires a lot of full explication.

    •  Catalonia (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRocks, Brian A

      While I am not an expert in Spanish history, as I understand it, the Kingdom of Spains (as Spain was called until the 18th century) was essentially a collection of semi-autonomous kingdoms united for economic conveniences.  The ongoing colonization of South America brought new incentives to unify the Spanish Kingdoms, which was achieved following a bloody civil war by the Bourbons.  At the end of this conflict, the Bourbons stripped Catalonia of its political sovereignty (and constitution), effectively bringing Catalonia into the control of foreigners.   Thus, it may not be appropriate to think of Catalonia in the same terms as we think of the Scots, but rather as we would think of the Philippines or other seized people/territories.    

    •  Scotland and withdrawal from the Union (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brian A, FG, Mike Kahlow, pimutant

      Scotland does not currently have the legal right to withdraw from the United Kingdom. The Treaty of Union (on which the English and Scottish Acts of Union were based) included no provision providing a method of bringing the Union to an end.

      It is the general view of almost everyone in the United Kingdom that, if a majority of the electors of Scotland vote for independence, they should receive it.

      The United Kingdom and Scottish governments have agreed the process for an independence referendum to take place. Without that agreement there would have been legal doubt about the validity of a referendum.

      If independence is approved, in the 2014 referendum, it would not automatically dissolve the union.  There would then have to be negotiations about the terms of disunion. The Westminster Parliament would then have to legislate to give legal effect to whatever was agreed.

      The referendum is the start not the end of the process of  bringing about Scottish independence.

      There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

      by Gary J on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 01:11:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  American Southern states (0+ / 0-)

      joined the United States voluntarily in 1789, by ratifying the Constitution. That Constitution does not have a provision for secession.

      I'm no expert on Catalonia, but my understanding is that the various parts of Spain got joined together by military conquest and royal fiats over the past 500+ years, not by democratic vote or voluntary adoption.

    •  I've always wondered (0+ / 0-)

      If the South seceded today, would we feel justified in starting a war to stop it?   The parallels aren't perfect as the South didn't really democratically decide to secede as large portions of the adult population, that probably wouldn't support it, weren't allowed to vote.

    •  I'm not sure it was voluntary. (0+ / 0-)

      My understanding is that Scottish parliament did it under considerable duress courtesy of the Crown.  I hope they don't secede, but I wonder, will the Crowns remain unified as they were 1603-1707, or will the Scottish Crown be finally offered to the Jacobite heir?  Of course, I guess a republic is an option as well, but I sense a traditionalist streak among the Scots.

      •  Scotland would remain part of the Commonwealth (0+ / 0-)

        The SNP (Scotish National Party/ruling parliamentary party in Scotland) is stating that should Scotland vote for independence, they would remain part of the Commonwealth, meaning that the Queen and her heirs would continue to be the Scottish head of state.  I cannot see any circumstance in which any Jacobite heir would be offered a crown in place of the present monarchy.  

        •  That makes the most sense... (0+ / 0-)

          ...but to be clear being a member of the Commonwealth does not automatically entail recognizing the British Monarch as your own.  Of the 53 members only 16 consider Elizabeth II to be their own Queen; 32 members are republics and 5 have their own monarchs.  The Queen is also Head of the Commonwealth, but that title could be given to the head of state of a different member nation when she dies (though IMO it really only makes sense for it to remain the British monarch).

  •  Does Scotland want to be in the EU? (0+ / 0-)

    My understanding is that all parts of the UK have some squeamishness about the EU (which is why they haven't joined the currency unit). And as the number of poorer states joins the EU -- and those people then have, as I understand it, an unlimited right to migrate to and work anywhere -- feelings may shift even more against it. In my trips to London, I've noticed that many of the jobs cleaning hotels etc. etc. are taken by Poles or other Eastern Europeans, even though there are out-of-work Brits.

  •  The diary doesn't keep the headline's promise. (0+ / 0-)

    The headline unequivocally promises "Scotland Won't Have to Re-Apply for EU Membership in Event of 'Yes' Vote."

    The diary, however, first quotes the Spanish Prime Minister to the contrary. And even if the statement was made with an eye towards Catalonian separatists, the prospect that Spain will say no to Scotland remains. If Britain and Spain stand together, Scottish nationalists should not simply assume that the EU will accommodate them.

    Second, the diary asserts that an independent Scotland finding itself out the EU is unlikely because "the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary, disputed th[at] conclusion." Well, he would, wouldn't he? He is, after all, a member of the Scottish Nationalist Party. He hardly could remain in office while saying anything else.

    Third, the diary invokes an "analysis by the London School of Economics." Fortunately, the diary provides a link. But the link is not to anything "by the London School of Economics. Rather, it's to a blog post that clearly states: "This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics." And, who wrote the blog post? A graduate student at, wait for it, the University of Edinburgh, not, so far as I know, a branch of LSE.

    Please note, I'm not arguing that an independent Scotland would find itself outside the EU. It's just that, on the evidence in this diary, one must give as the verdict, not proven.

    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

    by another American on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 06:29:22 PM PST

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