An independent Scotland will have to apply for EU membership

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 17:13
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, faces a significant challenge if she is to achieve an independent Scotland with EU membership, after Britain's planned departure from the EU. The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, faces a significant challenge if she is to achieve an independent Scotland with EU membership, after Britain's planned departure from the EU. © Belga
Scotland, for the most part opposed to Brexit, would have to apply separately for EU membership. This would be in the event that it decided by majority, in the proposed second referendum, to become independent of the UK.
The European Commission confirmed this yesterday (Monday).

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that she was calling for a further referendum for Scotland's independence, thus threatening to break up the United Kingdom.

However, the Commission made known that the position of its former President, Jose Manuel Barroso, remains valid. He established, before the last Scottish referendum in 2014, that an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership if it wished to become part of the EU again.

The Chief Commission Spokeswoman, Margaritis Schinas responded, “Yes, the so-called Barroso doctrine applies. This is absolutely clear.” He was speaking during a press briefing in Brussels, with reference to the entry of new member states to the Union.

In February 2014, in the context of the first Scottish independence referendum, then upcoming, the Portuguese Barosso stated “Where is there is a new country, a new state, stemming from an existing member state, it must apply separately for EU membership.”

When Barosso said this, the UK had no known plans to call a referendum on EU membership.

At the time he had gone on to say, in respect of Scotland, “Moreover, its membership and accession to the European Union should be approved by all other member states” of the EU.

This would mean approval from as a minimum, the remaining 27 countries in the EU after Britain leaves, assuming that it leaves the EU in 2019, as is currently being proposed. Were other countries to join the EU in the meantime, they would also have to approve Scotland's entry.

To coincide with Britain's planned departure from the EU the Scottish First Minister, the leader of the SNP independence party, currently wishes to hold a referendum at the end of 2018 or during the first few months of 2019.

Christopher Vincent
The Brussels Times
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