Juncker’s hammer blow

On Tuesday the UK media and the No campaign got all excited when EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said that he was not in favour of enlargement of the EU for the next five years or so. Suddenly they’ve got a new blow for Alicsammin from the man who just the other week said that he would accept the result of the Scottish referendum whichever way it went. It was a hammer blow for Alicsammin’s EU hopes, said Wee Dougie Alexander, fresh from polishing his halo and not falling out with his sister. Scotland would have to join the queue behind Moldova and not gain entry for a decade.

Everyone in Europe hates us, the French think more highly of Turkey’s prospects of EU membership, Scottish Unionists chorused smugly, in a demonstration that they’ve really not quite got the hang of this smugness business. But acting smug after your country receives an apparent kick in the nads and a message of rejection is the new definition of ProudScot in the lexicon of Unionese.

It was all very convenient on a day where the other referendum related news was the strengthening of the hand of the Eurosceptic faction in the cabinet after Davie Cameron’s reshuffle. The Tories are now increasingly dominated by politicians who want the UK to withdraw from the EU, but failing that want the UK to opt out of the European Court of Human Rights. This demand is likely to form a centre piece of the Tories’ package of EU renegotiations, but it’s a demand which runs directly counter to the foundation treaties of the EU and equally likely to prove incompatible with continuing UK membership. The chances of the Tories managing to negotiate a new settlement that their more swivel eyed wing finds acceptable got more remote yesterday, and with moves towards Euroscepticism boosting the Tories in polling south of the border, the prospect of a UK exit from the EU looms ever closer.

There was another wee development in the appointment of the Eurosceptic Philip Hammond as the new foreign secretary. Together with the appointment of some no-mark no one has ever heard of as the new UK EU Commissioner, the UK media has interpreted the reshuffle as a two fingered salute to Brussels from Westminster. The UK home teams may have been utterly rubbish in the World Cup, but that won’t stop Westminster from demonstrating that they’re still the top Euro hooligans. Cameron’s reshuffle sent the EU the message: “We’re the Westminster boot boys, everybody hates us and we don’t care.”

Hammond was the top Tory widely rumoured to have been behind the anonymous admission of a “senior Conservative cabinet minister” to the Guardian that “of course” a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK would be negotiated. As foreign secretary, Hammond will play a key role in any future negotiations between a Yes voting Scotland and the Government of the rUK. So there’s interesting.

But within a couple of hours Juncker’s office issued a statement saying that he wasn’t referring to Scotland at all, adding that Scotland was an internal matter. So it was a hammer blow for Alicsammin in the same way that Wyle. E Coyote’s Acme rocketsled hammer is a blow for Roadrunner. It launched onto the airwaves and in a graceful arc swung back round and squashed Blair McDougall’s tuba. Juncker’s clarification not only confirmed that he wasn’t referring to Scotland at all, it also confirmed that in his eyes the issue of Scottish membership doesn’t count as an EU enlargement and is quite a different kettle of eurofish from the accession to the EU of external candidate countries.  Scotland becoming a member of the EU in her own right is no more enlargement than dividing a large room into two rooms counts as building an extension to your house.

The No campaign are still desperate for you to believe that Scotland becoming independent means we are automatically outside the EU and would have to reapply for membership from outside the EU like Serbia or Turkey. This is a lie. I’d like to be kind and say it was a bit of a misunderstanding, or maybe a misreading or a genuine failure of comprehension. But it’s not. It’s a lie. Many in the No campaign sincerely and genuinely believe the claims of Unionist politicians, but those who head the campaign are still telling a porkie pie, and not even a Melton Mowbray one whose contents are guaranteed by a European protected designation of origin, it’s an entirely ficticious pork pie. They know they’re not telling you the truth.

What the Unionists want you to believe is an implication which they derive from a fact. The fact is that an independent Scotland will not have signed the EU accession treaties, the implication is then that Scotland cannot be a member of the EU and must therefore be automatically excluded.

But that’s not the logical consequence of Scottish independence at all. EU law recognises only one procedure for a country or territory to leave the EU, it’s covered by Article 50 of the EU Treaties. Leaving the EU can never be automatic, because EU law grants rights and imposes obligations on individuals as well as on member states. These rights and obligations must be carefully disentangled before leaving the EU. An EU exit must be negotiated, and negotiations can only commence when the government of the territory, country or state which seeks an exit makes a formal request to Brussels. Scotland has no intention of doing that. Scotland’s independence is, as Juncker repeated yesterday, an internal matter. Leaving the EU doesn’t enter into it.

I explained the real situation in a post a few days ago, but it’s such a vitally important point it needs to be stressed again. Scotland is not going to leave the EU as a result of voting Yes in September, we are not voting to leave the EU, and we cannot be expelled from the EU by voting for independence. It’s against EU law. Juncker’s comments tacitly confirmed this. It’s an internal matter, he said, and the implication of his remarks are that Scotland’s independence is qualitatively different from the application of an external candidate state.

That means that after a Yes vote, Scotland will still be a part of the EU, in the first instance because immediately after a Yes vote Scotland will still be a part of the UK, and the UK is – for now – an EU member. A yes vote means that the Scottish Government will have the mandate to negotiate Scotland’s independence from Westminster, and it means the end of the political union between Scotland and the rest of the UK, but as far as the EU as a whole is concerned, this is a matter for Scotland and the rest of the UK to sort out. Yesterday Juncker repeated that he will respect the result of the vote and the subsequent negotiations.

At the same time as Holyrood negotiates Scottish independence with Westminster, negotiations will also start between Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels regarding the status of Scotland and the rest of the UK with respect to the EU. This will happen while Scotland is still a part of the UK, and therefore still a part of the EU as a part of the UK.

Scotland cannot be automatically expelled from the EU, it’s against EU law and in breach of more articles of the EU Treaties than the strategists of the No campaign have ever told lies about. If negotiations on Scottish membership are not complete by the time that Scotland becomes formally independent, transitional arrangements will be made in order to ensure that Scotland remains within the EU while negotiations are completed and the single market is not broken. Scotland will be negotiating her own membership of the EU from within the EU, and will accede to full EU membership in her own right from within the EU.

So Juncker’s intervention yesterday was indeed a hammer blow. It was a hammer blow to Unionist scaremongering.  Blair McDougal’s tuba will never sound the same again.



35 comments on “Juncker’s hammer blow

  1. JimnArlene says:

    A mute McDougal, now that’s a welcome prospect.

  2. Steve Bowers says:

    Are you sure, you’ve left it a bit vague there Paul……………. shame about the Tuba

  3. All so simple and logical.

    Something BTUKOK despises.

    We will do it and the earthquake will start in Whitehall, then the City and beyond.

    As you sow, so shall ye reap; and I am a fully paid up atheist!

  4. […] On Tuesday the UK media and the No campaign got all excited when EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said that he was not in favour of enlargement of the EU for the next five years or so. S…  […]

  5. dickybeau says:

    Only loosely connected but..(slightly OT)
    I am in France on holiday. The Tour de France passed nearby and I stood in the pissing rain watching the stage finish at La Mausalane the other day. Yesterday, the weather got better and being in a bad mood with SWMBO I took my duggy for a loong walk over a hill path to another town. My navigation skills are only tuned to OS maps so the Club Vosgien map was beyond me and I got misdirected (lost, to you). I cam across a French man in his small holding. I waved my map at him and he was kind enough to point out the necessary correction that would take me to a cold beer and a bowl of water for my duggy. The guy asked if I was Anglais! He got really excited when I said Ecossais to the extent that he was shouting ‘ ‘vive l’Ecosse’. Unfortunately my French skills are restricted to reading a menu to avoid head cheese and lambs nuts because he really lifted my spirits. If some farmer up a goat track on a hill in the Vosges can see the importance of the referendum and it’s opportunities for Scotland why can’t some of our naysayers? Vive l’ecosse he shouted and I left him with j’espere

    I REALLY hope.

  6. A trounced tuba — a steamroller trundled over it.

    Getting very fed up with all this nonsense from the Naw side. Childish and churlish. There’s such good positive stuff worthy of discussion, like the reports from N56 and the Business for Scotland bus tour. But reference to those would unsettle the No dears and give them nightmares that if poor, wee, stupid Scotland actually has such wonderful potential, then maybe their jobs and lifestyles and ermine are packed into the first flight from the new spaceport – wherever that might be.

    • hektorsmum says:

      Please tell me you do not want the to return from said space flight, cause I would pay good money to see it go as long as it fails to return, somehow Scotland will be a nicer fresher place without them.

  7. WRH2 says:

    I’m going to memorise this article so I can quote it to anyone who gives me any more nonsense about our being thrown out of the EU. Great explanation.

  8. bringiton says:

    Darling is going to have to relearn the script he is being tutored on for the great debate in August.
    One less uncertainty to demand answers from our FM.
    I think that just leaves currency and NATO.
    This is as close as we are going to get on the “legal” position of Scotland immediately post independence and does the No camp no favours.
    Thanks Paul.

  9. […] On Tuesday the UK media and the No campaign got all excited when EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said that he was not in favour of enlargement of the EU for the next five years or so. S…  […]

  10. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    “The No campaign are still desperate for you to believe that Scotland becoming independent means we are automatically outside the EU and would have to reapply for membership from outside the EU like Serbia or Turkey. This is a lie. I’d like to be kind and say it was a bit of a misunderstanding, or maybe a misreading or a genuine failure of comprehension. But it’s not. It’s a lie.”

  11. hiorta says:

    Can anyone clarify that the UK ceases as an entity should either member country leave it?

    • Hiorta

      In my opinion yes, but I am not paid as a lawyer to give you the opinion you may desire.

    • weegingerdug says:

      The UK government would have us believe that it and it alone represents the continuing UK. This is an assertion which has not been challenged legally, moreover one which crucially depends upon an independent Scotland not challenging it.

      The Scottish Government has kept very quiet about this, but a legal challenge to the rUK’s claimed status would be possible, and according to some legal arguments it would be on very strong ground. A legal challenge would have a dramatic effect – such as on the UK’s seat on the UN Security Council, so the US would be keen to avoid it. Other EU member states would also be keen to avoid the issue, so they’re hoping that Scotland and the rUK can sort it out between themselves.

      However the status of Scotland on the one hand, and England-Wales-NI on the other will be a major issue in independence negotiations. A possible legal challenge to the rUK’s claimed status is one of the more important cards that the Scottish negotiators have to play. If Westminster hopes for Scottish cooperation on this issue, then Scotland can demand Westminster’s cooperation on other issues.

  12. HawGaw says:

    Laughed out loud at the Melton Mowbray bit…

  13. […] Juncker’s hammer blow […]

  14. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but couldn’t this all be resolved by Westminster asking the E, U for their opinion on the consequences of Scotland voting to become an independent country. My understanding is that they have consistently refused to ask the question, no doubt because they wouldn’t get the answer they want. On the clarification issue, unfortunately, it’s the first reports that most people see, and that’s what sticks in their mind, so therefore, the damage has been done, aided by a compliant media.

  15. Marian says:

    For me its very simple.

    If Cameron really believed that Scotland would be out of the EU for even just one day he would have written to the EU and obtained a ruling to that effect on day one of the campaign.

    The fact that he hasn’t done that speaks volumes that confirm he knows his claim is a baseless lie.

  16. Nan Rattray says:

    What is utterly unbelievable is Charles Kennedy & David Cameron repeating this lie in Westminster today. They have no excuse as they both knew it was a deliberate lie.

  17. Dougie says:

    Just tell the next gloating Unionist Greenland voted to be independent from Denmark the member state treated as full member until she voted not to join EU
    A but its still controlled by Denmark they whine
    Full fiscal control shares crown,has currency union sound familiar?

  18. ian foulds says:

    How much more time must be wasted in countering BT’s and the other pathetic Naysayers’ pronouncements which contain not one scintilla of truth?

    Although the indominitable Grass Roots YES keep addressing these issues with substantiation of the inaccuracies, I am sure you can only do so much and get through to a proportion of the DKs and soft NOs.

    I hope the public face of YES is also properly addressing these issues to the people of Scotland.

  19. Jim Galt says:

    Three Cheers for Juncker!

    I think we should club together and send him a bottle of Islay Malt – I’ve heard he enjoys the odd wee refreshment.

  20. Mjack says:

    All we ever hear is that Scotland will have to negotiate but surely run won’t be able to keep the same number of mep´s or the same rebate after losing a 10th of population and economy and a 1/3rd of its land mass. Surely Scotland will actually get a larger share of farming subsidies having such a large land mass?

  21. macart763 says:

    The whole stooshie was almost worth it to see BTs brightest and best (cough) along with a few others make a public cod of themselves and forced to eat humble pie by a Beeb journo no less. The speed some sites altered headlines and text online was near blinding. 😀

  22. iain taylor says:

    Good stuff.

    I’ve been saying the same for 2 years (without having researched the small print). What I did learn over years of front line experience (advising – in a very small way – Lithuania & 4 other countries on their accession arrangements) is how Brussels works.

    Unlike WM’s Punch & Judy style, it’s about building consensus (one reason it’s too subtle for Cameron and his swivel eyed loons) and being pragmatic. It’s also way more sophisticated than our WM types.

    Brussels wants to & has to keep Scotland in the EU. Its just a question of sorting out the details.

  23. […] about Juncker fallout – for nowCameron needn't worry too much about Juncker fallout – for nowJuncker’s hammer blowCameron needn't worry too much about Juncker fallout – for now var TubePressJsConfig = […]

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