Scaremongering over an independent Scotland’s status as part of the EU has been critically undermined following confirmation from a European Commission Vice-President that European Union citizens cannot be stripped of their rights.
Joaquín Almunia stated that Scots rights as citizens of the EU would remain on the event of independence and that no-one should assert that an independent Scotland would be forced out of the EU.
According to the Herald newspaper, Mr Almunia stated that “you cannot give a categorical answer that somebody who splits off would remain outside and we wouldn’t know anything about them for centuries. It’s not like that. If you are a European citizen you have certain rights.”
Mr Almunia’s intervention follows comments earlier this month from fellow Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding who stated that there was no law stating that Catalonia should leave the EU if it became independent.
The Scottish government seized on the latest intervention by the EC as evidence that anti-independence scaremongering over EU membership of an independent Scotland is baseless.
Commenting, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie who convenes the Europe and External Relations Committee said:
“In the space of a few weeks we have now seen two Commission Vice-Presidents independently blow some of the more outlandish scaremongering surrounding Scotland’s EU membership out of the water.
“As Joaquín Almunia correctly states, the simple fact is that if you are a European citizen – as people in Scotland have been for 20 years now – you have rights and there are simply no mechanisms to remove these on independence.
“There is no provision in EU treaties that would allow Scotland to be expelled or for people in Scotland to be stripped of their European citizenship, so an independent Scotland would negotiate the details of our member state status from a position of already being within the European Union.
“Similarly, there are no provisions to compel Scotland to join the Euro, so we can quite easily continue to use Sterling with the rest of the UK, to our mutual benefit.
“I would challenge anyone who claims that EU citizenship can be involuntarily withdrawn to point to a single EU treaty article backing up their point.
“The only real threat to Scotland’s EU membership is the ideological determination of the Tories to drive a wedge between the UK and the rest of the EU. That would be disastrous for businesses and individuals in Scotland, and is something that can only be protected against with a Yes vote in 2014.”
The statement from the EC Vice President comes on the heels of a row over legal advice on Scotland’s status within the EU should a Yes vote triumph in 2014. First Minister Alex Salmond has referred himself to an independent body in order to look at Labour complaints that he lied in a BBC interview which discussed the legal advice matter.
Mr Salmond has insisted that the advice mentioned in the interview refers to the general debate and to documents published by the Scottish government and not to specific legal advice on the status of a newly independent Scotland.
Following the historic signing of the Edinburgh agreement, both London and Edinburgh have now formally agreed the process that will determine the 2014 ballot. This agreement led to an announcement by the Scottish government that they will now seek legal advice from law officers on the specific matter of an independent Scotland’s status within the EU.