By a Newsnet reporter
A leading academic has challenged claims that a newly independent Scotland would be expelled from the European Union.
Giving evidence to the European & External Relations Committee, Professor Michael Keating said suggestions that Scotland would find itself outside of the EU for any period of time were “unrealistic” and that such a scenario was “in nobody’s interest “.
The academic, who is Professor of Politics at the University of Aberdeen dismissed claims by the anti-independence campaign, saying “it is simply in nobody’s interest to create a hole in the single market, to disrupt all the relationships between Scotland and the European Union simply to put them back in place again. Everybody would lose out of this.”
Professor Keating also dismissed claims from the No camp that an independent Scotland would be forced to join Schengen, stating that “remaining outside Schengen and in the common travel area is a lot more easier to negotiate than getting into Schengen.”
He added, “…there’s no question of being forced into Schengen unwillingly because you’ve got to be willing to meet all the obligations of it – so I don’t think that would be a problem.”
In a further blow to opponents of independence, Professor Keating also made clear that negotiating for an independent Scotland to maintain similar terms to the UK would be easier than negotiating a new set of terms, stating “that actually simplifies matters – it doesn’t complicate matters – it simplifies matters because you already have a template there.”
According to the academic, “Scotland would not, and could not, be excluded from the EU”. Professor Keating, in his written submission also said that a prolonged accession process would not be necessary.
The reasons listed included:
* There is no reason for other EU states to refuse to recognise Scotland if the UK has done so.
* An independent, democratic Scotland, recognised by all member states and conforming with the acquis communautaire could hardly be excluded from the EU simply because it had exercised its democratic rights.
* Independence would occur after a transition period (seen now as two years) in which details of EU membership could be negotiated.
* It would not be in the interest of the rUK, other member states or business to disrupt the internal market or to change the status of EU citizens living, working and studying in Scotland.
* Neither Scotland nor rUK is going to erect customs posts.
* Scottish citizens are EU citizens and could not be deprived of their rights arbitrarily. EU rather than international law might be relevant here.
* A fast-track form of accession could be agreed, either by the accession process of by treaty amendment.
Commenting, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie welcomed the evidence by Professor Keating calling it “a timely injection of common sense”
The MSP added: “The fears and scaremongering that the No campaign has been engaging in when it comes to Scotland’s place in Europe have been comprehensively debunked by expert evidence today.
“From claims that Scotland would be left outside the EU to assertions that Scotland would somehow be forced to join Schengen, the No campaign’s scare stories have been left in tatters today.
“After a Yes vote next year and before independence in 2016, Scotland will negotiate our place in the European Union – so that our membership is a seamless one.
“That is in the interests not just of people in Scotland, but also the interests of other EU countries whose citizens live, work and study here and whose businesses trade freely in Scotland.
“As Professor Keating also made clear today, there is’‘no guarantee that the UK will be a member of the European Union after 2017′. That is the real threat to Scotland’s place in Europe.
“With a Yes vote next year, we will be able to develop our own positive relationship with our European neighbours, instead of being dragged down by the UKIP dominated agenda of Westminster.”
Professor Keating’s evidence coincided with the publication in the Scotsman of an article by Brandon Malone of the Law Society of Scotland in which he argued that the remainder of the UK cannot automatically assume it will be the continuing state in the event of independence.
The leading advocate insisted that EU membership and treaty benefits currently enjoyed by the UK should be seen as assets like any other, to which an independent Scotland has a claim.
“Scotland is no rebel breakaway enclave. What is proposed is the democratic, negotiated dissolution of what is, in the grand sweep of history, a comparatively short-lived union. Is it at all credible for the Westminster government to say that, in the event of a Yes vote, rUK will inherit the UK’s treaty benefits, including in particular EU membership, and Scotland will not?” wrote Mr Malone.
The lawyer also argued that interrelated rights enjoyed by other EU members in relation to Scotland meant that expulsion from the EU, even temporarily, was near imposible.
According to the leading advocate, “given the EU’s culture, history and politics, and the rights that EU citizens from other member states enjoy in relation to its territory (eg fishing rights) and institutions (eg student funding), it is inconceivable that Scotland would be expelled, even on an interim basis.”
The No campaign has claimed that a newly independent Scotland would be thrown out of the EU and have to re-apply for membership. Last week Unionists seized on comments from Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy who made similar claims.
However in October an EC official stated that there would be no legal barrier to Scotland re-negotiating a continuation of its current membership whilst remaining within the EU, following a Yes vote.
[Newsnet Scotland will now begin the process of slowing down as we approach Christmas. Visitors may notice fewer news stories and reduced turnover over the coming days.
However we can reveal that this week will see the third instalment of Duggy Dug, this time looking at the pound – a timely subject for our animated character and a belter of an animation.
As we approach Christmas look out also for our ‘Dirty Dozen’ feature article that will list the twelve worst examples of questionable broadcasts from BBC Scotland. If you have someone who believes the BBC is impartial then this article will open their eyes.
This coming week will also see the BBC Trust reveal its decision on the BBC’s handling of the Lucinda Creighton episode.
Newsnet Scotland, despite being in festive slowdown, will bring you the decision first and will also reveal all of the evidence as submitted by the BBC. We are sure it will prove fascinating reading.]