McGrigor: An independent Scotland would not automatically be a member of the EU

Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands MSP, today argued that an independent Scotland would not automatically be a member of the European Union and would have to negotiate its way into the EU.

Jamie was speaking this afternoon in a debate in the Scottish Parliament on an inquiry carried out by the Parliament's European & External Affairs Committee.  The inquiry was into the Scottish Government’s proposals for an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU.

Speaking today, Jamie, who is the Scottish Conservative member of the European & External Affairs Committee, said:

“I believe that the overwhelming arguments and the legal framework for accession leads us to Article 49 of the EU Treaties, which explicitly states that any “new” state applying for membership will have to follow the same process.  In a nutshell, that means in all probability having to sign up to the Euro and agreeing to Schengen, with not even the proviso that we would be accepted.  It also means the Scottish Government’s suggested timescale of 18 months is farcical, given the fact that it took Croatia almost a decade from applying to being admitted.

“From the many experienced, influential, and key experts who have given evidence to the Committee, it is clear that there is no automatic right that an independent Scotland would be admitted to the EU.  I think of the contributions to our inquiry made by leading academics such as Kenneth Armstrong, Professor of Law at Cambridge University, who said that Article 48, the so-called fast-track means by which an amendment to the treaties would be sufficient for membership, would be "legally implausible and incredibly politically risky”Professor Armstrong went on to say that Article 48 is "a way of renegotiating the treaties between existing member states, and not with some other non-member state”.  I am also reminded of what Patrick Layden QC said, and I quote "If we decide seriously to leave the United Kingdom, one of the consequences that is reasonably clear and generally agreed is that Scotland will not be part of the European Union”.

“We also need to consider what the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso has said on Scottish EU membership, and indeed supported by his EU Council counterpart Herman van Rompuy.  And only earlier this year, Senor Barroso's Deputy, Viviane Reding, wrote to the Committee Convener, stating "When part of the territory of a Member State ceases to be part of that State, e.g. because that territory becomes an independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory”.

But even before these recent comments were made, as far back as 2004 Senor Barroso's predecessor Romano Prodi was saying exactly the same.

So I reiterate previous comments I have made; why does this Government easily dismiss the views of experts on the EU and respected EU officials?”