Deputy FM Statement on European Union

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In the event of a ‘yes’ vote in autumn 2014, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for all parties in the Scottish Parliament to support the negotiation process for continued European Union membership if they have Scotland’s best interests at heart.

Ms Sturgeon made a statement to parliament today on Scotland’s continuing membership of the European Union and to respond to comments from the President of the European Commission.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“As head of the Commission, Mr Barroso’s opinion on this matter should be – and will be by this Government – treated seriously and with respect.  That is why I have written to him seeking an early opportunity to discuss the particular process by which Scotland would become independent and the implications of that for our continued EU membership.

“But the European Commission, however important, is not the final arbiter of these matters. Nor does the Commission even claim to be specifically addressing the particular situation of Scotland.  Indeed, the President of the Commission himself made clear, in his letter to the House of Lords Committee, that ‘the European Commission has expressed its views in general…’

Also, there is absolutely no provision in the EU Treaties for the dis-application of those Treaties or the removal of EU citizenship from a country and its people when they exercise their democratic right to self-determination. And it would be extraordinary if anyone in this chamber – or indeed anyone else committed to the principle of democracy – was to suggest that there should be.

“As a result of the Edinburgh Agreement the specific process by which Scotland would become independent will be democratic, agreed and consensual and the result will be respected and implemented by both the Scottish and UK governments.

“Following a ‘yes’ vote in 2014, a process of negotiation will take place with the UK government on the transfer of powers to an independent Scottish Parliament.

“As I said last week, it would be the intention of the Scottish Government to invite representatives of the other parties and of civic Scotland to contribute to that process.

“It is a process that we would intend to have completed in time for the next Scottish election in 2016.  However, in the period between autumn 2014 and May 2016, Scotland would still be in the UK and, therefore, by definition, still within the EU.

“In parallel to negotiations with the UK government, it would be our intention to negotiate the terms of an independent Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU.

“This government believes that Scotland benefits, economically and socially, from EU membership and that the EU benefits – enormously – from having Scotland as a member.

“We are an integral member of the EU and it is simply not credible to argue that the other nations of the EU would not want to retain access to the vast array of resources and opportunities that Scotland brings to the EU table.

“Indeed, if the opposition parties have Scotland’s best interests at heart then – notwithstanding their opposition to independence – they will accept that, in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, the process I have outlined today would be in the best interests of Scotland, the UK and the EU.”