EC President’s ruling on membership not a real issue

The furore in the political hen coop today at the EC President’s pronouncement -that a new state seceding from an existing EU member state would have to reapply for membership as the newly independent state it had chosen to become – really is a non event.

This is no more than playing with words and procedures in order to look as if the EU works to such rules.

This is the EU that admitted countries like Greece and others – knowing, on evidence, that those countries did not not and could not meet the membership criteria supposed to govern their admission.

Since the start, the EU has developed to progress a clear political agenda – the creation of a united states of Europe.

In the interests of gaining support for this overarching ambition, the EU has knowingly admitted several unable member states, making them and paying to maintain them as helpless dependency cultures to ensure their support for political union when the time came.

That time is anytime now-  and the fiscal union that is the absolute necessity to sustain the euro and the eurozone is effectively that very political union.

Some larger member states – like Spain – joining after the foundation six,  have also allowed themselves to become major dependency cultures. In an earlier article we showed just how prevalent is that condition within the member states of the EU.

In that piece – The EU and dependency cultures – we demonstrated that only five of the states admitted to membership after the founding six in 1957, were and have remained net contributors. The five are UK [1973], Denmark [1973], Finland [1995], Sweden [1995] and Austria [1995]. The rest are settled net receivers.

The SNP position in advance of and in response to the EU President’s ruling is incorrect.

It claims that the two year period between a hypothetical vote for independence and actual independence would be the negotiation period – from the inside -  for immediate Scottish entry to the EU.

But it could not properly be so, as such negotiation would be on behalf of a state whose final shape, circumstances and fiscal identity was not then known and which, not yet in existence, would have no authority to commit to any agreement.

However, President Barroso did not say today that newly seceded independent states would be regarded as new applicants at the end of the queue.

The pragmatism of a failing EU badly in need of members could be guaranteed to ensure that new states emerging from existing larger ones would be fast tracked to membership, should they desire it.

The Barroso pronouncement does no serious damage to the Scottish Government or to the First Minister – beyond giving a schoolyard national media a few eggs to throw.

The damage – and it is real damage – has been done already by the First Minister in his quite unnecessary evasions [and worse] over his equally unnecessary assertion that his government already had legal advice to back up its claim of automatic EU membership for any newly independent Scotland.

This, added to the revelation that the wording of the Ministerial Code was retrospectively changed to support Mr Salmond’s assertion that he could not even reveal that he had not had such advice or that he had not indeed even asked for it [as was the case], rammed home the nails in the coffin of his credibility.

He went on quickly to bury this himself in two further erratic steps.

At First Minister’s Questions, Mr Salmond repeatedly insisted on the veracity of quite incorrect information on college funding he was giving to the Scottish Parliament in defence of his Education Secretary – and had to return to the chamber in short order to issue a formal apology for misleading it.

Following this, it was revealed that his office had privately asked for the alternation of the official record of an answer he had given to parliament on another occasion, where he had quoted 18,000 as the number of those employed in the renewables energy industry – a modest 72.7% inflation of the correct figure, which was 11,000.

It has been these demonstrations of either serial incompetence or serial deliberate misleading which has damaged the First Minister to the point where we cann0t believe what he says without verifiable independent confirmation.

He has been repeatedly shown to say and do what is convenient rather than what is right.

The question of how quickly Scotland would be admitted to EU membership is an irrelevant side issue.

The real question is again on the political energy and freshness of a First Minister who campaigns for independence but who can conceive of nothing but dependence – simply preferring a master facing administration to one with a greater chance of avoiding that outcome; and unable to offer a prospectus for a truly independent Scotland.

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31 Responses to EC President’s ruling on membership not a real issue

  1. The rules say they should re-apply for membership with all the delays involved in that but the EU has a history of bending and ignoring rules, they can be as devious as Mr Salmond.

    I also have a suspicion that it might suit Brussels to p### off the UK government.

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  2. The SNP has a tendancy to keep repeating things in the vain hope that eventually whatever the subject will become true. They persuaded themselves that they had received legal advice on the subject of EU membership and now they are trying to persuade themselves that Scotland will become a member during a 2 year negotiation period should a Yes vote be secured.

    Thank goodness the SNP is a one issue party that will disappear after 2014, in my humble opinion.

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  3. I’ve more confidence in Scotland being financially viable as an independent state than I do in the Eurozone still existing in 2014. How about crossing these bridges when we get to them?

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      • We have an unelected bureaucrat pontificating about something that is not covered by either the various EU treaties or existing case law; this is a basis for negotiation between bureaucrats, agreements between politicians and argument between lawyers to the enrichment of all, at our expense. It’s a necessary evil in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, not something that should keep anyone awake at night until then; listening to the EU’s many overpaid mandarins’ ill-informed prognostication should be a good cure if it is.

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  4. Barroso – the unelected head of the EU Civil Service – giving an opinion to suit his UK and Spanish masters is nothing. For how could an Independent Scotland be a new state and the Rest of the UK not be the same, with the consequent negotiations and referendum south of the Border, as North of it?
    I suspect that this is part of a long term cunning plan by Wee Eck who has a longer time frame for his political strategies than Cameron or Darling.

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    • The UK would legally continue to be a member of the EU – if it chose to be – because it holds the membership. The specific make up of its union is of no account in terms of membership and would not affect it.
      Any part of the UK becoming a breakaway separate state would legally have to apply for membership.
      But as we say above, we have no doubt that if Scotland was daft enough to want to be a member, the EU would eat its arm off – and Scotland would pay for the pleasure in losing any incentive to work to stand on its own two feet; and in the range of constraints it would have to observe that would make sure that remained the case.
      The EU does have political delicacies in the matter with the position of two major members – the UK and Spain. It cannot be seen to offer comfort [if such it would be] to potential secession states. But if either member lost part of its territory and the new state wished to become a member, it is hard to see facilitation not being the order of the day.

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      • “Any part of the UK becoming a breakaway separate state would legally have to apply for membership.”

        abject nonsense – the EU has not said that in the slightest”

        “The specific make up of its union is of no account in terms of membership and would not affect it.”

        Can you prove this to be the case?

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        • This is the logic of law and conforms with President Barroso’s statement. As a long standing senior executive of the EC, he is likely to know what he is talking about – and he will be talking on the basis of legal advice which the EU indicated it had received.
          This is also exactly what President Barroso said:
          - that any new state formed from any existing member state must apply for membership;
          - that the new state must negotiate its own terms and conditions in that process;
          - that the UK will remain a member.

          If Scotland were to leave the Union, the UK would continue to exist as would the EU membership it holds.
          If Wales and Northern Ireland were also to secede from the Union, then or later, there would be no United Kingdom – and in that scenario the logic of the position spelled out by President Barroso is that the UK membership would then have no legal or political status; and that England, Wales and Northern Ireland would then all be separate states, each deciding whether or not to apply for EU membership.

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          • The UK would not continue, it would cease to exist. The United Kingdom bit of the name refers to the uniting of the Kingdoms of Scotland on one side and England on the other. As this was supposed to be an arrangement of two equal partners, then both partners would be in an equal position after Scotland had decided to end the partnership and would negotiate from that position. Think of a newly divorced couple who had held a joint membership of the golf club. Why would only one person be allowed to continue his, or her membership? Why would they not be treated equally?

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          • There is no law whatsoever defining what you say – can you give a link to this “law”?

            This is HIS opinion and he went to great lengths to point out that he wasn’t talking about Scotland in particular.

            When Greenland became independent a few years ago – it wasn’t allowed to leave the EU.

            Can you provide anything at all to show how taking EU citizenship from teh people of Scotland will work – what is the process? ( a wee clue – there is none)

            You’ve already fallen hook, line and sinker for what the Hootsmon published earlier, despite it being a total fabrication -the letter didn’t even exist.

            The UK was started in 1707 with the joining of the Scottish and English parliaments – when Scotland decides it wants to disolve that partnership – it can -and the union will cease to exist.
            Wales is a principality of England and Northern Ireland is a province

            The full name of teh current UK is
            United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland -= the United Kingdom of Great Britain will be disolved to leave England & Northern Ireland as the two seperate entities.

            Now so therefore teo new states will be formed England & Northern Ireland and Scotland – (remember Wales is a principality of England)

            Scotland isn’t seperating from the UK & N.I, it’s disolving the UK part.

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    • I am also embarrassed. Embarrassed that supporters of the Union are belittling Scotland. Poor wee Scotland that will not be allowed into the big boys club. Poor wee Scotland that won’t be able to afford to live on its own. Poor wee Scotland that will become a backwater in the big wide world where nobody will want to live or do business if we become independent. By all means tell us why we will be better off in the UK, but don’t demean our country be telling us we are too wee, poor and stupid to go it alone. The Unionists should be using a positive argument to back their view, not the relentless negativity we have heard so far.

      All I have heard from them until now is how weak and insignificant we will be if we vote for Independence. Tell us instead how the UK will stand up for Scottish interests in a world where the UK is becoming more irrelevant and dependent on the US for its position in world affairs. Tell us how the UK economy will stand a few years down the road if we vote NO. Tell us all the good things the Union will do to make our lives and our childrens’ lives so much better in the future. Tell us these things and you might even convince me to vote NO. But you can’t, can you?

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          • Julian – despite your obvious ignorance on this subject, Greenland was indeed part of the EU, as it was part of Denmark.
            After they achieved independence it took 2 yeasr plus a referendum to get out of the EU.

            I suggest you go and do some more research on the matter

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      • Why are you getting your knickers in a twist Andy? Do you feel hurt if someone criticises Scottish politics or the economy? Spare us the crocodile tears please!

        It’s time the SNP faced reality and stopped living in dream world where all dreams come true.

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        • I’m still waiting for the positive vision FOR the Union. I’m not holding my breath though, not because my knickers are twisted, but because the NO campaign do not yet have a positive vision.
          Come on, if the future is so bright in the UK, tell me all about it. This is your chance to convince me. Go for it.

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          • Andy, nobody is interested in convincing you. You don’t seem to grasp the political and economic reality of where Europe is right now.
            Both Europe and the UK is in a very dark place and that position is not going to be any brighter for many years to come. But if Scotland was to vote for independence and opt to go it alone in this present economic turmoil, life here would be oh so…… so darker.

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          • I’m not interested in trying to convince anyone either – I’m not trying to peddle some new idea or ideology. The Union is what it is – it speaks for itself. Sure, if you feel hard done to, the grass is alledgedly greener on the other side.

            I’m pretty content with the current setup, I think it woks well.

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          • I don’t agree with Julian and Jamie’s responses on this.

            I think there is a need for the unionists to make a case for retaning the union in the same way there is for the nationalists to make a case for independence.

            Maintaining the status quo is of course the position of default however if the unionists genuinely believe that staying together is in everyone’s best interest then they should surely be motivated to make a good case for it rather than leaving it to chance that the nationalists don’t make a good enough job of persuading people.

            As someone who is not committed to either action I have to say neither side are doing anything remotely good enough to move me off the fence. This does play into the unionists hands as most people sitting on the fence are less likely to vote for material change without good reason to. However if the unionists feel this is the right strategy to play it is certainly a risky one and actually a tad lazy! I do however think they will get away with it unless the nationalists up their game considerably over the next year and a half.

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          • As Integrity says, the union status quo is the default position. However, the fact is that a party which has Scottish Independence as its chief raison d’etre won a landslide at the last election – to an extent that was supposed to be impossible.

            Unionists who refuse to wake up to the significance of that, and say they don’t feel the need to try to convince anyone of the benefits of staying in the UK may be in for a nasty shock. They need to tell us why we should vote against independence, and they need to do it by more than repeated and mostly unconvincing scaremongering.

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          • Good points from Tima and Integrity, I agree, the game needs to be upped. The real ‘campaigning’ has not started, I think both sides are still trying to find the sweet spot. The cynic in me thinks the SNP are trying to get all questions asked so they can come up with answers.

            Ultimately however, much of the arguement against Independence is going to focus on the risks associated, the risks the SNP will not talk about, let alone acknowledge. That can be portrayed as negative, but someone has to do it.

            We take it so much for granted, that we don’t realise the benefits of the Union, and that is something the Better Together campaign needs to focus more on.

            Points noted! :)

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  5. If Scotland does achieve full independence, the Union Jack will start to look a bit threadbare and I wonder whether this might be casting the flag in a different light in Northern Ireland? perhaps the current vehement objectors to the less regular flying of the flag there haven’t considered the future.

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  6. Whatever the rights & wrongs, there is one profession who will be putting cash in the bank – the lawyers – this will keep them in business for years after 2014….

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  7. It seems quite clear that if/when Scotland regains its full independence it will have to apply (as a ‘new’ state coming into existence) to become a member of the EU. We can argue about how willing the EU might be to welcome Scotland into the fold, but the reality is that their ‘welcome’ will depend on what the precise conditions of membership are when agreed.
    Therefore post a ‘successful’ referendum there will have to be a detailed negotiation with the EU to decide those terms and agreement will need to be reached before independence comes into effect.
    One question: will the electorate be asked to approve whatever those terms turn out to be?

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  8. The bigger issue for many of us is why the political establishment in all its current forms will not allow us a vote on getting out of this institution which is profoundly undemocratic,centrist ,and costly.For too long the debate on Europe has centred on a right wing exit strategy around Maastricht Rebels and UKIP yet the opposition is far wider than that .The political left since the 1970,s has long opposed further expansion of EU powers and called for a referendum a position Tony Benn has long articulated and more recently the respected Labour MP Gisella Stewart has done the same .Unless I have missed something recently Messrs Cameron ,Clegg,Milliband ,and Salmond are all for once unusually on the same side in not supporting a referendum .Time for one or all of them to be on the side of history.

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  9. Re Integrity’s comment above:
    Agreed.
    Neither side is doing the business.
    We have said for a long time that the pro-union side should show Scotland that it is positively wanted within the union and that new internal relationships are possible.
    Of course they want Scotland in the union and of course they will agree changes – but the failure to be pro-active looks as if they haven’t got the imagination or the awareness of the value to all parties of change to come up with something really attractive and energising.
    On their side, the separatists have to start fronting up on substance instead of chaeap sales talk that, on the evidence to date. does not stand up to scrutiny. They need to be able to produce a genuine vision of what Scotland could realistically become and achieve, that would be distinctive.
    To date, they’ve simply been trying to find out what people want and then adopting it. This is producing an politically incoherent pick’n'mix rather than an energetic picture emerging from philosophy, conviction and a competent operational intelligence.
    As you say, both sides are being lazy – or lacking in confidence in their ability to envision practically and soundly [perhaps, in both cases, for good reason].
    This leaves neither position commanding respect.

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