Scotland still in EU after independence


  by Russell Bruce

Twitter, I am informed, has been set alight by a House of Commons report.  Namely HC 643 The foreign policy implications of and for a separate Scotland.  Bloggers are out in force quoting from the paper and posting links.  Seldom has a paper prepared for the House of Commons stirred such interest and dare I say it – excitement.

To quote directly from the paper on the objectives and highlights, the following provides a useful summary of the contents.

1. The object of this note is to clarify the procedure by which, following a referendum in which the Scottish people vote in favour of independence, Scotland could become a member of the European Union.  Although the note touches on wider issues such as the terms of Scotland’s membership and the attitude of the EU member states and institutions, it focuses on the question of the procedure for Scotland’s accession.

2. In the debate on Scottish independence it is natural that opponents tend to exaggerate the difficulties of EU membership, while proponents tend to minimise them.  This note tries to address the subject as objectively as possible.  In summary it argues that:

  • · Arrangements for Scotland’s EU membership would need to be in place simultaneously with independence
  • · Scotland’s 5 million people, having been members of the EU for 40 years; have acquired rights as European citizens
  • · For practical and political reasons they could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission
  • · Negotiations on the terms of membership would take place in the period between the referendum and the planned date of independence
  • · The EU would adopt a simplified procedure for the negotiations, not the traditional procedure followed for the accession of non-member countries

This publication is particularly valuable because it is an objective analysis from an academic with a background of over 40 years experience of EU affairs and as an insider in early negotiations prior to the UK joining the then European Economic Community.  The author, Graham Avery, is Senior Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre, Brussels, and Honorary Director-General of the European Commission.

Will this end the controversy surrounding Scotland’s position in Europe?  Probably not, for those only interested in scaremongering rather than actually finding a few or any arguments for the benefits of continuing with the Union.

Professor Avery in the rest of the paper highlights benefits to Scotland and resulting changes to the position of RUK.  Scotland will be entitled to increased membership as well as the advantage of have a seat in the Council of Europe.

Scotland currently has 6 MEPs, reduced from eight on enlargement some years ago.  Scotland would be entitled to the same as Denmark, Finland or Slovakia according to Graham Avery as countries with populations or between 5 and 6 million.

Denmark, Finland and Slovakia each have 13 MEPs and this would mean a reallocation of MEPs from the rest of the UK as the number of members of the European Parliament does not increase with changes to the total membership of the EU.

Another concern for Westminster governments would be the negotiations over the UK rebate that would be the subject of negotiations involving the Commission and the UK and Scottish governments.

Graham Avery has set out a route map for Scotland’s position in Europe that is rational and builds on an insiders experience of European pragmaticism.

The full paper can be accessed at

The copyright of the House of Commons is acknowledged in quoting from the first two sections of Professor Avery’s paper.


  1. This isn’t going to be easy for the MSM and the unionist scaremongers to explain away: from the bio, Avery is about as authoritative a figure as you could ask for. His approach is measured, sensible, and above all looks to any reasonable person like simple common sense.

    The position of an independent Scotland (and indeed rump UK) vis a vis the EU is uncharted territory; there is simply no precedent for our situation assuming a yes vote in 2014. The smart money however has ALWAYS been on exactly the kind of outcome Avery posits; both successor states remain members, and will need to negotiate certain details with Brussels, or if they so desire begin negotiations to leave if that is what their people want (and again, no state has ever left, so that is a novel circumstance too.. Greenland isn’t a true comparison as it isn’t an independent state).

    This is another piece of good news for the Yes campaign, the SG and the SNP!

  2. I look forward to the BBC putting the article from its politics page to the Scotland’s future page any time soon!

    We all knew this was the ‘common sense’ solution but the unionists have no common sense.

    Ms Lamont and Mr Mundell were not available for comment.

  3. Although interesting this opinion is basically just that, however authoritative. No-one knows and the EU isn’t about to tell.

    Don’t think Scotland has much to worry about though, everything will be negotiated between the parties, which seems to be the only EU requirement we know.

    In Catalonia, some insiders say that if we peacefully work through the legal stages, even if getting blocked at every turn by Spain, and with massive support at each stage, we have a chance of getting in by a kind of default. Here’s hoping.

    • Hi Marga,

      I am sure you are right. In part of a letter Ms Roden, European Commissioner Vice-president wrote to Spain’s Europe Minister regarding the “Catalonian Situation” – “[i]My intention was only to explain that I fully trust in the common sense and Europeanism of the Spanish in order to resolve this question within the domestic ambit to which it is proper.[/i]”

      I take that as “diplomatic speak” for a direct instruction that Spain must find a way to accommodate the Catalans, up to and including, “letting them go”.


    • Hi
      BBC Scotland just announced that the U K government will not be seeking an oplnion re: Scotland into E U until after the referendunm vote.

      Now footie otr tennis? Hearts or Murray?

      • I just heard that, 2nd story at 7pm news…I was utterly gobsmacked…so basically the EU have offered to give an opinion to the UK but the UK refuse to ASK. You couldnae make this stuff up…..real boost for the Yes campaing it needs to be pushed to the hilt…

  4. “For practical and political reasons they could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission”

    That is what many of us have been saying and yet this has never been posited seriously when the EU membership question has been at the forefront of the unionist parties and unionist media who have launched massive attack on the integrity of the Scottish Government (Cameron in the commons a few days ago) and the FM himself… is all about negativity and partisanship, especially from the bbc and the Scottish media who want to promote anything to bolster the ‘no’ mob.

    Marga B (above),

    Surely this expert, right at the heart of EU constitutional law, is more authoritative and reflective of the EU legal and constitutional opinion on secession from political partnerships between countries and the place of countries currently containing EU citizenship?

  5. It is important to note that this is not the only paper submitted to the enquiry. There are another 13 of them which need to be analyzed alongside this. We can’t just pick and choose one of them that we like or the Unionist press will do likewise.

    The fact that the general gist of most the documents is generally positive means that we can highlight this whole body of submissions.

    In fact, Avery’s view on readmission is not shared by some of the other contributors, who conclude that Scotland would most likely be fast-tracked into the EU. Either way, automatic entry or fast-tracking means that Unionist fearmongering of a Spanish veto are certainly blown out of the water.

    It should be considered, however, that no guarantees have yet been made on the Euro or Schengen, which could still represent an obstacle.

    • My understanding of Prof Avery’s view is that Spain (or others) would not have a veto: instead, they would have to construct a proposal for expelling Scotland from the EU.

      That basically puts them on the same footing as people saying Scotland automatically becomes a fully-fledged member. As such the situation is ripe for a fudge. The most likely fudge, IMO, is that Scotland remains legally part of the EU, in the sense of trade tariffs etc., but actually garnering the full trappings of EU statehood – commissioners, Salmond getting to stand in the photies with the other 28* – goes through the application channels.

      *there’s currently 27 members, but by the time we win the Yes vote, Croatia will have joined.

  6. O/T but have a quick look over at the herald, it seems that or friends from over the water(WASHINGTON POST) are getting in on the act as well, sorry can’t get the link to work.

  7. It might have been on BBC’s web site, but it certainly wasn’t important enough to appear on the 6:30 news. BBC might believe that spending many hours broadcasting negative stories about EU membership is in the “public interest”, but they KNOW the other side of the story is certainly not worth a minute.

  8. I finally found this link (regarding Falklands as an Overseas Territory) from my old Gruniad postings:


    [i]”The British Government’s relationship with its Overseas Territories is a modern one based on partnership, shared values and the right of each Territory to determine whether it wishes to stay linked to the UK or not. The UK has no intention of imposing independence against the will of the people concerned. [b]Where independence is an option and is the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people of the Territories, the British Government will give every help and encouragement to those Territories to achieve it.[/b] For as long as the UK’s Overseas Territories wish to retain the link to the UK, the British Government will remain committed to their future development and continued security.”[/i]

    Usable relevant statement of intent.

  9. A word of caution about that “report”. It is merely one submission giving an opinion. There are other submissions, including one from the FCO which I thought was hysterical, in a funny laugh out loud sort of way. But, read them all and remember that they are considering possibilities from rUK as continuing state, which has to be agreed first.

    Am I the only damp squib on this site?

    • I agree with you. The FCO submission was farcical and added nothing to the debate. There are, however, concerns raised in many of the other reports, particularly with respect to Schengen, the Euro and the timescale for removing Trident.

  10. BBC Scotland news
    On the same day that agreement was signed between Alex Salmond and David Cameron, the Commission said that they would be happy to offer their opinion on the legal consequences under EU law, “on a request from a member state detailing a precise scenario”.

    For us, that “member state” is the UK government.

    The Commission has confirmed to me that they haven’t received any such request from any member state.

    Neither, I understand, has the Scottish government called upon their Westminster colleagues to make a request on their behalf.

    The UK isn’t minded to do it then and N Sturgeon said the SG will.
    Looks like they may have to ask ‘Call me Dave’ to help out.

    Game on then!

    • Just realised what that means in my last post, if it’s true.

      Only the UK can ask for the legal advice!!

      Lets AS off the hook and sticks CMD on it.

      You could not make it up.

      • [quote name=”call me dave”]Only the UK can ask for the legal advice!!

        Thats what I read into it…and the BBC news earlier suggesting that they will refuse to ask for the advice… good is that for the Yes campaign….”UK Govt want to leave Scots in the Dark over EU”

  11. Regardless of this I believe strongly that we must have a vote on whether Scotland stays in/joins the EU, joins EFTA or stays outside completely.

    • I think that should be considered after Independence. The whole thing hinges on Scotland being viewed internationally as a stable and credible country. To start pulling out of EU before settling the Independence issue for example, would not help at all.

  12. For once I look forward to listenng to Call Kaye on the BBC –surely they must run with this –Look forward to hearing La-ment explain it !

    No-probably we will hear a story from a 4th generation Englishman in the Isle of White why we won’t be allowed to stay in Europe not withstanding the tories wan’t everybody out of Europe–surely we could have a referendum on this? Confused?

    • Surely, No one looks forward to ‘Call Kaye’.

      I only listen to the topic choice about 8.50am and the first caller is usually given free reign to damage the SNP .

      I noted that when Baillie and Martin were shown to be lying the topic was about cruelty to dogs.

      I imagine cats or Hippos will be the topic tomorrow.

      I must say I think Kaye is the finest example of unionist stoogery.

    • More likely to go with

      1. Why the Scots in the Forces cant get a vote and
      2. Why cant the Scots in Corby get a vote and
      3. Why is Sean Connery allowed to vote.

      Davidson suggests to Moore to get the Army barracked in Scotland in time for the vote.

      Scottish Affairs Committee this afternoon.

  13. Please, please, please can some journalist ask Lord Wallace for his response. A mere 3 weeks ago, he was saying that Scotland “would likely find itself outside the EU, and would have to apply for EU membership”:


    Further blatant scaremongering in the Scotsman from some rent-a-quote in 2007, “Mr Happold dissected each one of the SNP’s arguments and concluded that an independent Scotland would not only fail to get automatic membership of the EU, but would probably be much worse off than it is now, with less influence and less money”:


  14. Another Parliamentary submission worth looking at is this one by Aidan O’Neill QC:


    It was primarily about the legality of the referendum, but section 6 is about EU membership. O’Neill takes the view that EU membership is at the level of the [i]citizen[/i] – not the state.

    What that means is that the moment a Scottish citizen (or company, importantly) is disadvantaged post-independence because the Spanish government, or a London taxi-driver, or a Greek shipbuilding company claims “you’re not in the EU anymore”, the Scottish citizen/company can take them to court, and the court would have to find in their favour because the EU laws still apply.

  15. The EU would absolutely love the UK to split up, and would welcome Scotland with open arms. This is never in doubt. The name of the game of the EU is divide and conquer.

    The absolutely crucial question is what will be the terms of our membership be?

    • I’m not sure the EU would love the UK to break up. Spain certainly would not due to a potential exacerbation of the nationalist movements in the country. France probably would not, as it would see their UNSC position weaken. And member states would see their parliamentary representation decrease once again with Scotland’s extra MEPs.

      The only country I could see it significantly benefitting is Germany, who will se the weakening of the UK as a chance of UN reform and a seat on the UNSC.

      • The E.U would’nt care if it was made up entirely of countrys/regions/towns or whatever, thats the point, this nonsense about Spain vetoing Scotland is just more of the same nonsense,they will be told to shut up and keep quiet by the E.U who need to have members who can contribute to the greater whole.

        • The EU, though, is the sum of its parts. And there’s a wide array of different interests within that.

          I’m sure that once independence is achieved, EU membership will be straightforward. It was the original post stating that the EU is cheering for Scottish independence that appears contrary to fact.

          • I never said they were cheering for it – don’t put words into my mouth. Cheering for it would be very disrespectful to one of the larger members – the UK. I don’t believe for a second that the tzars at the top would not love to see a traditionally awkward member broken up into smaller, more easily subjugated parts though.

            This is why i am more concerned about the terms of our membership and not whether we will be accepted or not. Of course we will be accepted, look at the tinpot (not trying to offend) countries that they’ve added in the last decade or so, Scotland will be a shoo-in.

    • That reminds me of the excellent sitcom, “Yes, Minister”, Series 1, Episode 5: The writing on the wall


      Not enough space to copy the scripts so go read – well worth it!

  16. As a devoted reader of the Herald I look forward to viewing this story through the thing of wonder that is the Gardhamscope.

    The Herald has just put its Monday-Friday price up by 10% and I, for one, am getting heartily sick of the boy Magnus and his projections based on the thoughts of obscure Spanish politicians.

  17. This is one man’s opinion, nothing more. Cherry picking reports that match your views is somewhat weak, irrespective of whichever side do this.

    Edit: typo corrected

    • Of course it’s only one person’s opinion. But you judge each opinion by the experience the individual brings. That is where the value of each opinion comes from.

      Avery spent most of his working life involved in negotiations in the EEC/EU. It’s safe to say he understands the issues here more than most – certainly more than, say, any Labour politician.

      Therefore, his opinion is not “weak” evidence: it’s not a clincher, but it’s certainly significant evidence that unionists have been talking bilge on the issue for many years now.

  18. From the Herald:

    (Avery) “[i]From the political point of view, Scotland has been in the EU for 40 years and its people have acquired rights as European citizens. If they wish to remain in the EU, they could hardly be asked to leave and then reapply for membership in the same way as the people of a non-member country such as Turkey[/i].”

    [i]Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Mr Avery’s submission shows there is still doubt over currency, the Schengen free travel agreement and other treaty obligations[/i].

    WAKE UP AT THE BACK, WILLIE! No sweetie for you.

    • The future is uncertain. Question is do we want the powers to deal with this, or do we abdicate responsibility and leave it so someone else? Are ye a feartie, Rennie?

  19. the way things seem to be panning out we could find ourselves in a situation where Scotland remains in the EU and rump uk leaves the EU. the little englanders in westminster can smell blood they will be pushing for a referendum soon which would leave Ms Lamont and her chums looking even sillier than usual

  20. Just seen Blair Jenkins versus Kezia Douglas on Scotland Tonight discussing the Prof Avery report.

    Blair asked to respond to the report,supported what the Yes Campaign had been saying and commented that negotiation on the terms would take place.

    Kezia -“Of course Scotland will remain in the EU.” “It is about the terms”

    At least it is progress.

  21. [quote name=”sid”]the way things seem to be panning out we could find ourselves in a situation ……..which would leave Ms Lamont and her chums looking even sillier than usual

    I find that really difficult to imagine! Just how would they manage to look sillier than they already do?

    But seriously, in spite of all their attacks on AS they are now looking a bit silly. We should not get too disheartened, Alex, Angus, Nicola and co. know what they are doing. I used to despair at times when I thought the other side had got one over but time has shown me just how far ahead the SNP leadership are compared with the anti independence lot. And maybe looking a bit defeated isn’t so bad as the Scottish public are more likely to support the underdog.

  22. Apparently this document first aired in September and resurfaced on 17th October. The real question should be;

    Did the MSM and Holyrood rainbow alliance know of the existence of this document prior to the witch hunt of Alex Salmond and the SG in the past week?

    • I don’t imagine so. This was one of several documents submitted for a Westminster Foreign Affairs Committee meeting. It may have been submitted in September, but I believe it was only released to the public when the Foreign Affairs Committee met on 17th October.

  23. HC 643 The foreign policy implications of and for a separate Scotland is best read in conjunction with Commons Library Standard Note SN06110. The latter document sets out very clearly the options that will be available to the EU as regards the membership status of both Scotland and the remainder of the UK (rUK).

    What Graham Avery has done is to look at these options in a rational and impartial way and assess which would be, on the whole, the most politically amenable for EU member states. As Mr Avery, the SNP, and every sane, sober individual must conclude, the two successor state option is the clear winner by a massive margin.

    While unionists have focused entirely on deriding the SNP’s position they have not been held to account to explain why they think the EU would irrationally discard this option in favour of either of the less attractive options.

    By this dereliction of their duty the media have failed the people of Scotland yet again.

    • The EU does not have the option of whether Scotland becomes independent through separation or secession. That will be decided during negotiations between the two countries involved and the EU would decide on how they deal with the two countries following this decision. If it’s separation, they will have to accept that we remain in the EU, otherwise they won’t.

      In these internal negotiations, the rUK have too much to lose through separation. It would see Scotland and the rUK both get many of the rights and privileges the UK currently has, many of which Scotland doesn’t need. The seat on the UNSC, for example, would be undermined if the rUK is “split up”, something the Yanqui Empire wouldn’t allow.

      rUK will negotiate all out for a secessionist-type independence, so why not take advantage of this by offering it in exchange for huge demands in terms of Trident, national debt and oil fields?

  24. Peter
    “What Graham Avery has done is to look at these options in a rational and impartial way and assess which would be, on the whole, the most politically amenable for EU member states.”

    As have the SNP.
    The unionist parties, on the other hand, want to paint the blackest picture imaginable, the absolutely worst-case scenario.
    I can’t begin to imagine what sort of mindset leads one to this position.

  25. The first thing that the Scottish Government have to do is to publish their reasons for assuming Scottish membership of the EU – something that is by no means self-evident and has never been agreed by the Scottish people.

    What the Scottish voters approved in the 1975 EEC referendum was membership of a Common Market, a purely economic association of certain states that is now represented by the EFTA side of the European Economic Area.

    The attitude of the SNP leadership that Scotland is going to be in the political EU come hell or high water is untenable in a pluralist democracy. They have whipped up a mass hysteria over entry procedures without discussing the real issue – whether Scotland should be in the EU at all, and if so why.

    Such a readiness to throw away Scotland’s newly won independence, if it transpires, is not only incompatible with the SNP’s own objective, but would be a betrayal of the Scottish people the SNP purports to serve.


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