In The Press
Scottish Membership of the EU would NOT be automatic
9 March 2012
A newly independent Scotland would not be guaranteed automatic entry into the EU following a vote for independence according to a report released this morning by Business for New Europe, a UK coalition of pro-European business leaders.
The report highlights the fact that accession to the European Union requires changes to its founding treaties and therefore the unanimous approval of member states. It also shows that an independent Scotland would need to negotiate the terms of its membership.
Phillip Souta, Director of BNE, said “Scotland would have to negotiate on various issues like the euro, Schengen, the EU budget – the more it would ask for in a negotiation, the less likely member states like Spain or Belgium, with their own independence movements, would be willing to give Scotland an easy ride given the precedent it would set.”
He went on to say, “it is dangerous and potentially misleading to tell the Scottish people that they are safe to assume Scotland would automatically be a member of the EU if it became independent. It is of course inconceivable that Scottish membership would ultimately be vetoed, but to say that it would be automatic would be equally misleading.”
One major issue for example is the EU budget. In recent years, Scotland has fared much better than England in terms of budget receipts, and as part of the UK also benefits from the rebate. A House of Commons paper estimated that in 2008/09, Scotland’s net contribution to the EU budget was approximately £16 per person, and that without the rebate this figure would have been £92 – over five times more.
Given that the British rebate is itself highly controversial within the EU, and that many would like to see it scrapped, Scotland would be likely to encounter great difficulty in securing the exception on an independent basis. “These issues deserve a full and thorough hearing in the court of Scottish public opinion before any vote,” said Phillip Souta.
Notes to Editors
- The report, “In Depth: Scottish Accession and the European Union” by Daniel Furby can be found on our website here. It is also attached to this email.
- About the author: Daniel Furby is an Associate at Business for New Europe, based in Brussels. He has a PhD on British entry to the European Community, including the accession negotiations, and has taught UK European relations at Queen Mary, University of London.
- Business for New Europe is a coalition of pro European British business leaders who articulate a positive case for reform in Europe. We comment on European issues that have an impact on the UK. For a list of our members, please follow this link http://www.bnegroup.org/about/people/