Boost for Yes campaign as leading Danish figures say Scottish EU membership ‘mere formality’


  By a Newsnet reporter
An independent Scotland would encounter no problems continuing its membership of the European Union according to leading academics and politicians from Denmark.
The key figures say Scotland would find the process of acquiring its own membership “fairly quick” and a “mere formality”.

Speaking to Michael Gray, a journalist from online magazine National Collective, one member of the Danish government said: “It would be very clear […] it could happen overnight.”

Rasmus Helveg Petersen MP, a spokesman on foreign affairs for the Denmark’s Social Liberals added:  “The criteria is very objective Scotland would qualify.  If Scotland wants it, yes.  It would be a mere formality.”

Mr Petersen’s views were echoed by another MP, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.  The Venstre Spokesperson on European Affairs and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee told the National Collective reporter:

“Should Scotland vote for independence it would only be natural for Denmark to acknowledge this independence and to welcome Scotland in both the EU in accordance with the Copenhagen Criteria and also in NATO.”

Søren Espersen, the deputy leader of the Danish People’s Party said:

“There’s lots of opportunities.  We are so close to each other in so many ways.  There will immediately be a close connection.

Espersen also claimed that a newly independent Scotland would be welcome to participate in the influential Nordic Council.  The Council has 87 elected members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as from the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.

“I know that the Danish government will accept straight away that Scotland could be a member of the Nordic Council.”

The comments from the Danish politicians were welcomed by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.  The Depute Leader of the SNP said that the statements would encourage Scotland towards a Yes vote in September 2014.

“Denmark is a successful, small, independent country and it gives us an indication of how Scotland can similarly thrive with the full powers that a Yes vote will deliver.  These positive views from across a range of opinion in Denmark – which stand in stark contrast to the negativity we only ever hear from Westminster – are extremely welcome.” she said.

The views from some of Denmark’s leading political figures were backed by two of the countries academics.

Professor Lars Bo Kaspersen, Head of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, said that “Scottish EU membership would be in the Danish interest.  I think it could be a fairly quick transition.

“I’m sure that the European Union in general would strongly support Scottish membership and the same goes for NATO.  I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t think it was a good idea.”

Another academic, Professor Mikel Rasmussen, said questions over Scotland’s membership of the EU were a “non-issue.”

“Scottish legislation is suitable for membership equal to that of the United Kingdom.  When it comes to NATO and the EU, if Scotland wants it, it would not be in anyone’s interest to not let them in.

“If Croatia can be part of the EU of course Scotland can be.”

Commenting further, Nicola Sturgeon added:

“As pointed out by our friends in Denmark, Scotland will be welcomed into the EU as an independent country, and we will negotiate our position after a Yes vote in 2014 and before becoming independent in 2016. 

“The alternative of voting No is being dragged to the EU exit door as Westminster descends into a right-wing debating society – with the Tories and Labour competing on a UKIP agenda that has been resoundingly rejected in Scotland – which threatens Scottish jobs and prosperity.”

The issue of EU membership has been one of the most controversial areas of the independence debate. 

Better Together head Alistair Darling has said that a newly independent Scotland would have to leave the EU and re-apply for membership, which he claimed could take up to ten years to complete.  Others have claimed that Scotland would be forced to join the euro, if the country voted for independence.

Earlier this year it emerged that BBC Scotland had misrepresented foreign ministers from Ireland and Luxembourg who had been asked by the broadcaster to give their views on the EU status of an independent Scotland.

Irish Minister Lucinda Creighton claimed her words had been “spun” and “misconstrued” following an interview she gave to BBC Scotland reporter Raymond Buchanan. 

A spokesperson for Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn complained that the BBC had “failed” in its reporting of an interview he gave to BBC Scotland reporter Glenn Campbell in which the BBC man had said Mr Asselborn had “warned” Scots against “going separate ways”.