The Netherlands government has said it believes that Scotland is currently a “highly valued and integral part” of the European Union and that EU members would “discuss” the consequences of a yes vote after the referendum.
Responding to questions posed by Newsnet Scotland, Christophe Kamp who is a spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the Netherlands government would take no specific position on Scottish membership of the EU and would first need to await the result of the referendum.
However, Mr Kamp said that in the view of the Dutch government, a yes vote in the 2014 referendum would mean dicussions between EU member states on the consequences of independence.
In a communication to Newsnet Scotland, Mr Kamp said: “The Netherlands believes Scotland today is a highly valued and integral part of the Union. If Scottish people opt for independence, EU and the member states will need to discuss specific consequences of this choice for Scottish / UK relations with EU.”
The inclusion of the UK in post independence ‘discussions’ will be viewed by some as confirmation that the remainder of the United Kingdom will not automatically inherit all of the current obligations and benefits of the current United Kingdom. Last week the Latvian Foreign Minister told the BBC that a formal application from the United Kingdom if Scotland voted yes, could not be ruled out.
The Netherland government’s description of Scotland as currently an “integral part” of the European Union will bolster nationalist arguments that Scotland is already an EU member and that a newly independent Scotland can negotiate a renewed membership from within.
However, Mr Kamp was keen to point out that the Netherland government would take no position on the timing or nature of post independence discussions saying: “we’ll first need to await the result of the referendum.”
The Dutch spokesman also pointed to a letter from EC President José Manuel Barroso, sent to the House of Commons in December last year that confirmed the EC would not express a specific view on Scottish independence, pointing out that “…the separation of one part of a Member State or the creation of a new state would not be neutral as regards the EU Treaties.”
In his letter, Mr Barroso added: “…a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the Treaties would no longer apply on its territory.”
Last year one of Mr Barroso’s Vice Presidents suggested that countries who opt for independence could not be forced to leave the EU.
Speaking to a Spanish newspaper, Viviane Reding rubbished suggestions that international law meant a newly independent Catalonia would be expelled from the European Union.
Responding to the suggestion, she said: “Oh come on, it [international law] doesn’t say anything like that.”
The Scottish government has insisted that a newly independent Scotland would be able to negotiate a renewed EU membership from within the European Union. It claims that there is no mechanism in place for ejecting existing members and points out that Scotland has already been a member for forty years.
However Unionists have argued that independence would mean Scotland being forced out of the EU and having to re-apply for membership. Better Together head Alistair Darling has said that a newly independent Scotland could find itself out of the EU for nine years.
The comments from the Dutch government follow statements and interviews from several other European Union members, which has resulted in a mixed bag of views.
However concerns have been raised over the veracity of claims by BBC reporters after two Ministers, one from Ireland and one from Luxembourg, complained that their views had been misrepresented in order to give the impression that they were not in agreement with the Scottish government or were against independence.
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