EU vetoes report on the ‘consequences’ of independence


   By a Newsnet reporter

The European Parliament has blocked a Scottish Labour MEP from preparing a report on “the consequences of the secession of the territory of a member state for its membership of the European Union”. 

It is understood that Labour MEP David Martin hoped that the report would provide ammunition for the anti-independence campaign in Scotland, however the report was blocked by other members of the European Parliament’s socialist group who feared that the report would be unlikely to give clear support to the anti-independence case.

Mr Martin believed that the report would suggest that an independent Scotland would have to apply for re-entry into the EU, and intended to use it in next year’s referendum campaign in order to attack pro-independence claims on EU membership.  

However the report was blocked after the president of the European Parliament, German Social Democratic MEP Martin Schulz, and the Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda, President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the Parliament, ceded to pressures from other members of the Progressive Alliance and refused permission for the Labour MEP to carry out the study.

According to the Catalan newspaper El Punt Avui, the report met with resistance from the Spanish socialist party, the PSOE, which is opposed to Catalan independence.  El Punt Avui claims that leaders of the PSOE’s European group were concerned that going ahead with the report would backfire on the anti-independence campaign in Catalonia as it was unlikely to state unequivocally that Scotland or Catalonia would lose their EU membership. 

The PSOE also feared that the report risked providing the opposite answer to the one sought by Mr Martin and would provide an open door for pro-independence MEPs to seek support from MEPs from other member states.  The report would provoke a debate in the European Parliament which would reveal the extent of support for EU membership for an independent Scotland or Catalonia amongst other EU member states.   

Since the Luxembourgois EU commissioner Viviane Reding admitted last year that there was no EU law which said that Catalonia (or Scotland) would have to leave the EU on attaining independence, Spanish MEPs and diplomats have mounted a furious campaign to pressure European institutions into maintaining silence on the questions of Scottish or Catalan independence.  

The lack of clarity from EU sources on Scottish or Catalan independence has been seized on by the anti-independence campaigns which continue to maintain that there is “uncertainty” over whether an independent Scotland or Catalonia would retain their EU membership.  The Westminster coalition has refused to seek clarification from the European Commission on the membership of a newly independent Scotland.

EL Punt Avui reports that European Commission sources have admitted they have received complaints and “pressures” from the Spanish Partido Popular – the governing party in Madrid – in order to ensure that the EU does not “interfere” in what the PP considers an internal debate.  The PP and the Spanish government are insistent that the EU should not make any public statement about the possibility of Catalan or Scottish independence.   

The PSOE has also acknowledged the Spanish offensive.  However the Spanish European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, himself a PSOE member, has publicly acknowledged that “it is not honest to say bluntly” that an independent Catalonia would be outside the EU, because “the issue is not black or white.”

Speaking to El Punt Avui, Catalan Green MEP Raül Romeva said:

“The PSOE and the PP want independence to remain a taboo subject in Brussels …  They are not sure that the outcome of a report would be contrary to the interests of the Catalans and the Scots, but they certainly know that in any event it would generate a debate in the Chamber of the European Parliament, which would be most important, and they want to avoid that at all costs. “


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