By Bob Duncan
Claims that an independent Scotland would be expelled from the EU have been dealt a blow after weekend reports revealed that the other EU members consider Scotland to be “an asset”.
The Mail on Sunday quotes an EU insider as saying: “People often forget the EU is an incredibly expansionist organisation – there is little doubt that an independent Scotland would be seen as an asset to the EU.”
The report follows AFP journalist Roddy Thompson’s comments in the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland when he confirmed that there are no provisions in any of the EU Treaties for expelling a nation or part of a nation. Mr Thompson revealed that senior EU legal officials are currently examining ways to secure Scotland’s position as an independent member of the EU.
Replying to a question on whether there exist any provisions in any of the EU Treaty’s for expelling a nation or part of a nation state, he replied: “Not to my knowledge. They tell me that the head of the legal justice of the council is now in the process of doing a detailed study of the Treaty and how that would be interpreted.
“This would be legal advice that would be given to the council – not the advice that would be given to London or Edinburgh or anyone else.
“This would be, if it ever got to the stage where they needed to brief leaders on what the legal position would be before the leaders ever took the vote.
“They don’t have any provisions on if a country or if part of a country leaving. What they do have is provisions for citizenship and rights.”
Both the Mail article and the interview follow clarification from the EU over recent days that the resultant component parts of the former UK would be treated equally following a Yes vote for Scottish independence.
The clarification was in response to Unionist politicians in the UK who had ‘misinterpreted’ remarks made by European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly concerning the possible secession of Catalunya from Spain.
The EC spokesman said that comments made last week had been misinterpreted by many and that they wished to make it clear that they would not interfere in the internal affairs of Member States – including on Scottish independence.
Responding, SNP European and External Relations Committee member Aileen McLeod MSP said:
“This high level confirmation that the nations of Europe are ready to welcome Scotland as an equal and independent country confirms what the SNP has long argued and what Scots already know.
“The reality is that an independent Scotland will remain within the European Union, accepting all the treaties and obligations that currently apply to us as part of the UK.”
In a further blow to the anti-independence camp, it emerged that such a situation has already occurred.
In 2003 the tiny Caribbean islands of St Martin and Saint Barthélemy voted to secede from Guadeloupe, which is an overseas region of France and therefor part of the EU. Crucially the newly independent islanders remained EU citizens and the territories inherited all the treaty rights and opt-outs of France and did not have to re-apply for EU membership.
Ms McLeod added: “The fact of the matter is that the people of Scotland are already citizens of the European Union, Scotland has been part of the EU for 40 years, and we will continue our membership as an independent and equal country after a Yes vote – with a voice and votes at the top table to protect and promote our national interests
“This is another blow to the negativity of the anti-independence campaign. Their scaremongering simply doesn’t stack up.
“I believe that the people of Scotland will vote to take charge of their own future, and they will not be fooled by the relentless negativity of the No campaign.”