One of the EU’s most senior parliamentarians has said in an interview that the entry of an independent Scotland into the EU should be easy. The German veteran MEP Elmar Brok made the remarks while being interviewed by Alex Salmond on the latter’s show on RT. Since Scotland is, for the time being, a part of the EU by virtue of being a part of the UK, it is already in compliance with all the requirements necessary of an EU member state. That in turn means that should Scotland vote for independence before Brexit Britain has substantially diverged from EU norms and standards, Scotland will be able to rejoin the EU in sharp order, should it so decide.
Elmar Brok now joins Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister and the EU Parliament’s representative on Brexit, who said in June 2018 that it is “a simple fact” that Scotland would face no big obstacles to attaining EU membership. And in 2017 a group of 50 European parliamentarians from across the political spectrum and led by German Green MEP Terry Reintke signed an open letter to the Scottish Parliament in which they stressed that Scotland would be most welcome as an EU member, and offered their full support to ensure that Scottish membership of the EU would be as swift, smooth and orderly as possible.
There is considerable sympathy for Scotland in the EU. Guy Verhofstadt said in 2017 that the EU can’t afford to lose Scotland. It is recognised that Scotland is the most pro-EU part of the UK, and that public opinion in Scotland is very different from that in the rest of the UK. An independent Scotland which was a member of the EU would not be the constant thorn in the flesh of other EU member states that the UK has proven to be, with its constant demands for special treatment.
It is significant that Elmar Brok is a member of the German Christian Democratic Union and is a close political ally of Angela Merkel. The reason that this is important is because the German CDU is one of the most important components of the European People’s Party, the bloc of MEPs in the European Parliament which was most vehement in its opposition to Scottish independence in 2014. This opposition was orchestrated by the Spanish Partido Popular, which is likewise a member of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, and which had sought to build a pan-European opposition to independence movements along with the British Conservatives. Ruth Davidson and other members of the Conservative party took part in talks with Partido Popular representatives to this effect in 2012.
During the independence referendum of 2014, a series of EU politicians were trotted before the British press, all of whom made comments to the effect that Scotland would find it difficult to become a member of the EU in its own right. The majority of these politicians were members of the European People’s Party of which Elmar Brok is a prominent representative. This was a direct result of the behind the scenes machinations of the Spanish Partido Popular and the British Conservatives.
That alliance is how ancient history. The European People’s Party is no longer disposed to do the British any favours. The UK is now a third country as far as the EU is concerned. Spain has had a change of government, and it is now far more interested in ensuring that other EU states support it over Gibraltar than it is in discouraging Scottish independence. Scottish independence is always an issue that Spain had considered manageable, despite the protestations in the British media that Spain sought to veto Scottish EU membership in order to discourage Catalonia.
Indeed, the Spanish government has now made it clear that provided Scotland achieves independence constitutionally and legally, it would have no issues with a Scottish application to join the EU. This was explicitly stated by the current Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell in 2018. https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-spain-politics-scotland/spain-would-not-oppose-future-independent-scotland-rejoining-eu-minister-idUKKCN1NP25P He was restating a position which had previously been articulated by Alfonso Dastis in 2017 when he was Foreign Minister in the Partido Popular government which was replaced by the PSOE minority administration in June last year. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/02/spain-drops-plan-to-impose-veto-if-scotland-tries-to-join-eu Both the major Spanish political parties have now stated that they have no objections to Scotland acceding to the EU as an independent state in its own right and that they would not seek to veto Scottish membership.
Just as an aside, the link to Guardian article is entitled “Spain drops plan to impose veto if Scotland tries to join the EU.” This shows how engrained the myth of the Spanish veto had become in the British media. The truth is that there was never any such plan in the first place. A Spanish veto of an independent Scotland which had attained independence legally and constitutionally would destroy the arguments deployed by the Spanish government against the Catalan independence movement. Spain knows that, and so does Catalonia.
Spain’s argument against Catalan independence is that it would be illegal under Spanish law, and that’s why Spain can resist Catalan independence while at the same time claiming to respect the right to self-determination. A veto of an independent Scotland ruins that argument and opens up the Spanish government to Catalan attempts to internationalise their dispute. It’s only the British press which appears ignorant of the reality. Mind you, a lot of the anti-independence trolls in Scottish newspaper comments sections and social media still haven’t caught up with that news, reluctant as they are to let go of one of their favourite threats.
What all this means is that during the next independence vote, opponents of independence are not going to be able to find EU politicians to lecture Scotland against independence. The mood music from the EU is going to be very different. Instead of EU politicians who are warning against independence, it’s going to be comparative easy to find EU politicians who are willing to encourage Scotland.
Naturally the Scotland in Union trolls who infest the comments sections of newspapers were not at all impressed by Elmar Brok’s remarks. They of course know far more about the process of accession to the EU than the EU’s longest serving parliamentarian and one of the most respected members of the European Parliament.
What we see now is a series of spurious arguments as British nationalists desperately try to argue that an EU whose prominent politicians say would welcome Scotland with open arms would in fact reject Scotland. So they tell us that because Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank, we can’t join the EU. This is one of the those anti-independence arguments which on the surface looks terribly serious, but when you scrape off the shiny gloss which has achieved by repeatedly polishing the spittle flecks of dozens of British nationalist zoomers on social media and in the comments sections of newspapers, you discover all the stupid lurking underneath. Of course Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank. Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank for the exact same reason that Scotland doesn’t currently have its own diplomatic service and embassies, its own armed forces, or its own seat at the United Nations. Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank because we’re not independent yet. Saying that Scotland can’t join the EU because it doesn’t have a Central Bank is like saying that you can’t get a driving licence until you have a car.
In any event possession of a Central Bank is only a requirement for joining the Eurozone, not for joining the EU. The same applies to the argument touted by British nationalists that Scotland’s deficit means that it would be ineligible for EU membership. That one is particularly rich, seeing as how it’s the British government which is responsible for creating Scotland’s deficit.
Meanwhile British politics has been reduced to a parade of government ministers that you’ve never heard of resigning from posts you never knew they held so that they can voice their opposition to a policy that they supported last week. Answers from government ministers in the Commons have been reduced to ministers saying that their job is not to know anything. No wonder the British nationalists of Scotland in Union who infest newspaper comments sections are becoming so desperate. A better future for Scotland is waiting, and they have nothing to offer except negativity, scare stories, and threats that are losing their effect.
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