By a Newsnet reporter
Claims by anti-independence parties that an independent Scotland would be forced to adopt the euro have descended into chaos after UK Prime Miniser David Cameron contradicted claims by his Better Together ally Alistair Darling on rules over the use of the single currency.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Cameron pointed out that some EU members who have apparent obligations to join the single currency have “no early, or immediate or indeed, longer than that prospects of joining the euro”.
Speaking yesterday, the Tory leader said: “And that leads me to the third point, not all countries in the European Union will join the Euro. Not just Britain, we have an absolute copper bottomed opt out, written into all of the treaties, there is no obligation on us to join the euro. But, I believe, there are other countries in the European Union who have no early, or immediate or indeed, longer than that prospects of joining the euro and I think that is the important point”.
Claims that an independent Scotland could be forced to join the euro have also been shown to be unfounded with academics and pro-independence campaigners pointing out that Scotland doesn’t even meet the requirements and that Sweden – despite joining the EU after the euro treaty obligations were put in place, steadfastly refuses to join the single currency.
Commenting on Mr Cameron’s admission that no country can be forced to adopt the euro, the SNP described the stance adopted by the No campaigners as “rank hypocrisy”.
Commenting, Nicola Sturgeon MSP said:
“David Cameron has let the mask slip and revealed the rank hypocrisy that is at the root of the anti-independence campaign’s arguments.
“His comments today reveal that the no camp fully understands that euro currency membership cannot be forced on anyone, so why do they persist in trying to claim otherwise? They tell the truth to the rest of Europe, and scaremonger to the people of Scotland.
“Anti-independence politicians are happy to acknowledge that other EU countries do not need to join the euro but are still perpetuating the myth that Scotland would be treated differently. It simply is not credible and shows the worst kind of contempt for people in Scotland.
“The fact of the matter is quite simply that an independent Scotland could not and would not be forced into using the euro – an independent Scotland will be part of a sterling zone, which is in the interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“Now that this has been acknowledged by David Cameron, there is simply no way the anti-independence camp can repeat their false euro claims without becoming an absolute laughing-stock.”
Mr Cameron’s comments follow claims by his Better Together ally Labour MP Alistair Darling who this week claimed that Scotland would be forced to join the struggling single currency.
Speaking this week, Alistair Darling claimed that as well as having to re-apply for EU membership, Scotland would face the prospect of having to join the euro: “The problem that the separatists have is not with the rest of the UK, it is with convincing all of the other member states of the EU that Scotland should be admitted to the EU and not have to join the euro.”
The Labour MP repeated the claims yesterday afternoon in a TV discussion over the status of an independent Scotland within the EU.
However his claims that an independent Scotland could be forced to join the euro were also challenged in a recent article by Dr Daniel Kenealy who stated that “the notion that Scotland could be forced or compelled to adopt the euro is simply untrue”.
The unscripted intervention of UK PM David Cameron, backing the SNP’s position that no country can be forced to join the single currency, has now left Mr Darling’s claims in tatters.
Mr Cameron’s comments are further evidence of growing splits amongst the anti-independence parties over the EU status of an independent Scotland after Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie insisted on Newsnight Scotland that Scotland would not be thrown out of the EU, saying: “Nobody is saying we are going to be thrown out of the European Union, that’s not what we are saying.”
MEANWHILE – The Office of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has escalated the row over a newly independent Scotland’s status within the EU by threatening to remove the EU citizenship of nationals of any newly independent state.
Replying to questions by Newsnet Scotland after general comments were made by Mr Barroso on the EU membership of newly independent states, a spokesman for the EC President confirmed that citizenship rights would remain only with the parent state.
In an official statement, Mr Barroso’s spokesman, Mark Gray said: “Concerning the issue of the citizenship, in accordance with Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), only persons holding the nationality of a Member State are EU citizens. EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace national citizenship.”
The issue of EU citizenship continuity for Scots raised its head after Mr Barroso claimed that any newly independent state would no longer be a member of the EU and would have to re-apply. Mr Barroso, when asked about the remainder of the UK in the event of Scottish independence, claimed that it would remain the successor state without having to renegotiate any terms.
Mr Barroso’s claims that a newly independent state could be thrown out of the EU and forced to re-apply have been challenged by experts and also by the Scottish government who insist that no such mechanism exists.
New confirmation from Mr Barroso’s office that Scots could face being stripped of their EU citizenship is sure to add to the controversy and could well lead to challenges against the EC in the European Court of human Rights.
However, despite being pressed by Newsnet Scotland on what mechanism would be used by the EC to expel newly independent states, the EC spokesman refused to respond. The Office of the EC President also refused to deny that an independent state could conclude negotiations with the EU whilst still a member in the 24 month period between the referendum and official ratification of the vote by the parent state.