By a Newsnet reporter
A former Director General of the EC has said that an independent Scotland has “a right” to EU membership and that Scottish people are already citizens of the European Union.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee, Jim Currie said that “An independent Scotland has a right to be an EU member.”
The former official said it would be difficult for any member states to block membership, adding, “I don’t see that happening, it’s not in anyone’s interests for that to happen.”
“I think that one has to start form the position that Scotland territorially is already part of the EU. I think that one has to start from the position that Scotland’s people – Scottish people – are already citizens of the EU and I think that does make a difference to how it will colour the discussion.” He told the committee.
He added: “I think the negotiations will be carried through in good faith and I think they will be carried through with a view to creating conditions which not just suit Scotland but suit the rest of the EU in terms of the conditions under which Scotland will eventually become a member, “
Commenting specifically on claims by Jose Manuel Barroso, that Scotland would find it almost impossible to obtain EU membership, Mr Currie said: “…but I don’t think Scotland will be barred from membership in any sense if that is what President Barosso was implying.”
Mr Currie also said that he expected any negotiations on opt out and other conditions to be tough, but that the rest of the UK itself would also face some re-negotiations adding that London would not “be totally protected from that negotiation”.
The Committee also heard from Dr Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive of the European Policy Centre, who stated that “I cannot envisage that Scotland would not be part of the EU.”
Dr Zuleeg added: “We should also take into account that there is a significant probability that there will be a UK referendum on EU membership, and that might return a No to EU membership. For me the two referenda are linked.”
The academic savaged suggestions that a newly independent Scotland would be forced to adopt the euro, pointing out that no country can be forced to adopt the currency against its will.
Clip courtesy of Wings Over Scotland
The evidence from Dr Zuleeg is a blow to pro-Union politicians who have claimed an independent Scotland would have to adopt the euro in return for EU membership. Last year, the Labour member of the committee Patricia Ferguson said Scotland would be forced to peg its currency to the euro as a condition of its EU membership.
The evidence today comes after Professor Michael Keating and John Palmer, visiting fellow at Sussex University’s European Institute, both set out why it is in the interests of other member-states for an independent Scotland to remain part of the EU.
Commenting, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, who convenes the European and External Relations Committee, said:
“The heavyweight expert evidence that the Scottish Parliament has heard today has clearly and comprehensively demolished the silly claims that have been made about an independent Scotland’s place in the EU.
“It is simple common sense that a smooth transition after a Yes vote is in the interests of the businesses and citizens of countries across Europe, who work, live and trade in Scotland.
“Today’s expert evidence has added further weight to the sensible framework the Scottish Government has set out on how an independent Scotland will transition to becoming an EU member state in its own right after a Yes vote.
“The simple fact is that it is in absolutely nobody’s interest to stand in the way of an independent Scotland’s EU membership – which is why no member state has said they would veto Scotland’s continuing membership.
“Indeed, the biggest threat to Scotland’s place in the EU comes from a No vote and the anti-Europe agenda dominating Westminster.
“With independence, we will take our place as the EU’s 29th member. An independent Scotland will be a constructive member state, standing up for vital Scottish interests in a way that is simply impossible under the Westminster system.”