EUROPEAN UNION

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Self-governing and in Europe

In order to attain economic parity with successful small countries like the Netherlands or Denmark, Scotland must become a fully  self-governing member of the EUROPEAN UNION.

The SNP sees the EU as an institution in which independent countries work together, and not as a forerunner of a federal super-state called the United States of Europe or similar. Therefore, after accession, our Government would retain control over many key issues, such as the national constitution, taxation and spending.

After achieving self-government, Scotland would continue to be part of the EU. This natural progression is set out in the 1978 Convention on Succession of States, which says:"Any treaty in force at the date of succession (i.e. independence) in respect of the entire territory of the predecessor state continues in force in respect of each successor state so formed."

Several senior EU politicians have already looked favourably on Scotland's accession, and the June 2016 referendum showed that a clear majority of Scots want the nation to continue as a member of the European family.

As part of the UK, Scotland is only allowed to have 6 MEPs -- or the same as tiny Luxembourg or Malta. Currently, the SNP holds two of the seats. As an independent state, our representation would rise to 12 or 13, or equal to Ireland or Denmark. For the first time, Scottish Government Ministers would be free to represent our needs and priorities in Europe by right. We would be given our own seat in the European Commission and take our turn at the six-month Presidency of the EU. Scotland would also  be allocated 7 votes in the Council of Ministers.

We already have access to the largest single market in the world. It is not an exaggeration to say that thousands of Scottish jobs depend on our continuing exports to the EU. At the present time this stands at 46%, worth around £11billion. Crucially, an independent Scottish Government would be able to give priority to areas which are currently neglected by British representatives in the EU, not least the Scottish FISHING industry. Due to a history of weakness or disinterest by UK negotiators, the last few years have seen our fishing fleet decimated. This has had a particular impact on the North-East's fishing communities, particularly those of Peterhead and Fraserburgh.  A first priority of MEPs from an independent Scotland would be a thorough revision of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, which has had such a devastating effect on one of our major and traditional industries.

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  REFERENDUM on EU membership

In the 23 June 2016 referendum on continuing UK membership of the European Union, the SNP stressed the vital importance of Scotland's place in Europe. First Minister NICOLA STURGEON set out the party's position.

"The obvious benefits of EU membership apparently got lost amongst David Cameron's narrow points of renegotiation. Right from the start, the entire process was more about the outgoing Prime Minister trying to heal splits within the Conservative party, rather than any meaningful debate about the UK's place in the EU. The Tories have a long history of falling out with each other on this matter. Margaret Thatcher alienated herself from her senior Cabinet members with her hostility to Europe – a running sore which eventually became a factor in her downfall. And John Major’s entire premiership was overshadowed by the same issue – with the increasingly bitter splits ultimately helping to sweep the Tories from power. So in that context, it’s maybe no surprise that Mr. Cameron was more interested in the future of the Tory party than the future of Europe. 

*One thing is for sure. It will be a democratic outrage for Scotland to be dragged out of the EU against its will. The EU is not perfect. No-one is saying it is. In many areas it is badly in need of reform. But in my view the benefits of EU membership far outweighed these drawbacks. It gives Scottish businesses access to the single market of over half a billion people. Our membership also encourages substantial investment in Scotland from companies who want access to that market. And that means thousands of jobs would be put at risk by our withdrawal from the EU. Scottish students can study across the EU, giving them a wonderful opportunity to broaden their horizons and improve their language skills. And of course, we can all go to Europe on holiday and -- for those who want to even retire there -- with the minimum of fuss."      Map:  Remain = yellow.  Leave = blue.

It is estimated that the EU accounts for nearly half of Scotland's international exports, supporting 336,000 jobs.  The country also benefits from foreign direct investment into and within the EU. In 2013, there were over 2,100 foreign-owned companies in Scotland, employing over 300,000 people. Around 40% of these companies were owned by firms based in the EU. In the current programme period, the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund will bring a combined €985million funding to Scotland -- helping to boost growth, employment and tackle poverty. We also value the contribution to our economy and society of the 127,000 people from elsewhere in the EU currently resident in Scotland. Quite simply, exiting the EU threatens Scotland's economic success, anti-poverty initiatives, and the social and cultural benefits of being a nation in Europe.

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First Minister in BERLIN

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has discussed the EU referendum result with the German Government. On 9 August 2016, she met with its Minister of State for Europe, MICHAEL ROTH, to discuss the UK's decision and its aftermath.

Ms. Sturgeon set out Scotland’s perspective on the result of the referendum -- which saw Scotland voting to remain part of the EU -- and her determination to explore all possible options to protect the country's interests. Mr. Roth made it clear that Europe could only weather its impending trials by coming together, and that the German Government would work hard to boost capability and cohesion in the continent. He said the European Union was much more than an internal market, and had to strengthen its role as a community of shared values.

Speaking after the meeting, the First Minister said: “Today’s discussion has been a welcome and constructive opportunity to strengthen our relations, to discuss the way forward for the European Union, and how all voices can be heard in that process. Scotland chose to remain in the European Union. The solidarity shown toward our country as an enthusiastic part of the EU -- as demonstrated once again in today’s talks here in Berlin – has been very welcome.” Minister of State Roth added: “This has been a very pleasant and constructive conversation between two dedicated pro-Europeans, and has demonstrated once again that a degree of Europe’s strength lies in its diversity. I hope that the UK finds a way forward that will benefit Europe as a whole in the end.”

 

Support for Scotland from EUROPE 

European politicians have expressed considerable support for Scotland's continuing membership of the European Union.

The First Minister met with Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured), President of the European Commission, and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, in Brussels on 29 June 2016.

Jörg Schelling, the Austrian Finance Minister, said he "and many in the Eurogroup” anticipate a situation where “England comes out, while Scotland and Northern Ireland remain in the EU. Great Britain will probably become Little Britain.”

YouGov Euro Track opinion poll, 11 July 2016. There was majority support for an independent Scotland staying in the EU from Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.  

Robert Fico, the Slovakian PM, assumed the six-month presidency of the European Council (of national leaders) on 4 July 2016.  He said he was willing for his diplomats to assist Scotland's "amicable separation" from the UK, should the country decide to leave the union in order to stay in the EU. The process would be modelled on the successful Czech Republic-Slovakia "velvet divorce" of 1993. 

Sigmar Gabriel, the German Vice-Chancellor and Economics Minister, said: "The EU would certainly accept Scotland as a member in its own right, if the country leaves the United Kingdom and wants to join the EU." 

Manfred Weber is leader of the European People's Party (EPP), the largest party in the European Parliament, and a close ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel. He said: “Scotland and Northern Ireland can stay in the EU. Those who want to stay are welcome.”  Met with the First Minister, in Brussels on 29 June 2016.

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, the Polish Vice-President of the EPP (in a succession of messages celebrating historic Polish-Scotland links), said "Scotland is welcome in the EU."

Gunther Krichbaum, an ally of Chancellor Merkel and chair of Germany’s European affairs committee in the Parliament, said an independent Scotland's application to become a member of the EU would be a smooth process. "I expect a new independence referendum in Scotland will be successful. We should respond quickly to an application for admission from this EU-friendly country.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian PM and president of the European Parliament’s Group of the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe (ALDE), said it was wrong that Scotland might be taken out of the EU, when it voted to stay. He expressed his support for independent statehood for Scotland. Met with the First Minister, in Brussels on 29 June 2016.

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, 2nd President of l'Union des Démocrates et Indépendants (UDI), France's third biggest party, wrote to President Hollande to say that “the EU must make clear that it remains open to the Scots and Northern Irish."

Enda Kenny, the Irish PM, conveyed the Scottish Government's "very strong belief that they should not be dragged out of the European Union, having voted to stay", at the European Council meeting on 28 June 2016.

Micheál Martin, leader of Ireland's Fianna Fáil party, said: “Scotland is strong enough to advocate for itself, but Ireland should be its friend and demand fair play should it seek to remain in the EU."

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The year of SMALL NATIONS

Two nations with significantly lower populations than Scotland will play a leading part in the European Union in 2015. 

Latvia (pop. 2,217,000) will hold the presidency of the Council for the first six months, before handing it over to Luxembourg (pop. 509,000) for the final half of the year. On 2 January 2015, SNP MEP Alyn Smith commented: “I warmly welcome the upcoming presidencies of both Latvia and Luxembourg, and look forward to working with them on our shared priorities. Two countries considerably smaller than Scotland will be setting Europe’s agenda for the next twelve months, and confirms the potential of the EU to allow small nations to punch well above their weight on the international stage. Both Latvia and Luxembourg will be able to lead on issues of direct importance to them, and represent their own national interests at the top table. On the other hand, Scotland finds itself represented by a UK Government more focused on playing to UKIP’s agenda than in playing a constructive role in Europe."

“"That is exactly why the SNP has always been clear that the extensive new powers Scotland were promised would give us a stronger and clearer voice on the international stage. This would allow us to stand up for our own interests at the top table as other small nations do, rather than leaving it up to a distant Westminster establishment. Only an SNP vote at the General Election will put real pressure on Westminster to deliver these powers – and to give Scotland the voice we need in Europe to stand up for our national interest.” 

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In line with EUROPE

Polling from across Europe shows that Scotland is in line with mainstream opinion on EU membership.

On 14 December 2014, it was revealed that YouGov polling in several EU countries showed that Scotland is more in tune with mainland Europe than the rest of the UK. A Survation poll in Scotland in November found that, after don’t knows were removed, 57% of people would vote to remain in the EU, compared to 43% who would vote to leave – a net rating of +14%.

This puts Scotland in line with Sweden’s net rating of +12% and France’s net rating of +16%, but starkly at odds with the findings for the UK as a whole. Polls show that 53% of UK voters would vote to leave compared to 47% who would vote to remain, after don’t knows are excluded. This gives a net rating of -6% for remaining in the EU.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that the SNP will seek to amend any legislation on an EU referendum to ensure that all four UK nations would need to vote for withdrawal before it could take place -- to ensure that Scotland could not be dragged out of the EU against the wishes of a majority of its electorate.

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NICOLA is 8th female leader

When NICOLA STURGEON was elected First Minister of Scotland on 19 November 2014, she became the eighth current female political leader in Europe.

The others (with date of election) are:-

 

Germany  -  Chancellor Angela Merkel     22 Nov. 2005.

Poland  -     PM Ewa Kopacz     7 Apr. 2014. 

Norway  -    PM Erna Solberg    16 Oct. 2013.

Denmark  -  PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt    3 Oct. 2011.

Lithuania  -  Pres. Dalia Grybauskaite     12 Jul. 2009.                                                                                                                   

Latvia   -     PM Laimdota Straujuma      22 Jan. 2014.                                                                                                

Malta    -     Pres. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca    7 Apr. 2014.

 

### The online popularity of NICOLA STURGEON is only topped by three of Europe's other female political leaders.

It was reported on 1 December 2014 that the new First Minister's FACEBOOK 'likes' increased dramatically in the run up to and after the independence referendum -- from 3,260 on July 1 to 133,187 on November 30.  Angela Merkel (over 900,000 likes) is first on the Facebook leader board, with  Dalia GrybauskaitÄ— (219,000) and Helle Thorning-Schmidt (over 157,000) in 2nd and 3rd place. According to a social media analysis carried out via the Wildfire programme, Nicola is the most popular female politician in the UK.

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Our EU membership is "assured"

A professor of European and Human Rights Law at Oxford University has added her voice to those legal experts who believe Scotland would retain EU membership post-independence.

Speaking on 7 July 2014, Prof. Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, said: "Despite assertions to the contrary from some UK lawyers, EU lawyers and EU officials, any future independent Scotland's EU membership should be assured, and its transition from EU membership qua part of the UK to EU membership, qua independent Scotland, relatively smooth and straightforward. It would take the form of an internal enlargement of the EU using the procedure for treaty amendment in Article 48. These arguments are made on the basis of EU law itself, which, it is argued, provide all the resources necessary to assure an independent Scotland's EU membership through EU treaty amendment, and not through a cumbersome accession process as a new member state."

Italy's European Affairs minister, Sandro Gozi has effectively declared the EU's neutrality on Scottish independence as it takes over the bloc's rotating presidency. Mr. Gozi, a former EC official and diplomat, said: "We are not worried by the referendum in Scotland, and we have no position on it because they are responsible for deciding their own future. We don't believe it is necessary for the European Union to take an official decision in advance and we don't want to have any kind of influence. We don't want to say anything because any word could be manipulated."

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JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER

The nomination of the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg to be the next President of the European Commission graphically defeats the argument of those who say that only big states wield any influence in the EU.

Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured) will succeed Portugal's José Manuel Barroso.  The SNP has already welcomed Mr. Juncker's  statements on Scottish independence, when he suggested that the EU should keep out of the debate. The President-elect also said: "Small countries have the same dignity as the larger states in the EU. They have to be on an equal footing." On June 28, First Minister Alex Salmond commented: "The fact that Mr. Juncker has been Prime Minister of Luxembourg -- the smallest country in the EU, with a population the size of the city of Edinburgh -- rather defeats the argument that all of the big jobs go to the big countries. Clearly, Mr. Juncker is a living manifestation that another one of the unionist arguments has bitten the dust."

On 9 July 2014, the SNP welcomed further comment on Scotland's referendum by the new European Commission President.   Mr. Juncker affirmed that he would respect the country's decision in September, and that he was “in favour of democratic expressions." Alyn Smith MEP said that this showed "refreshing common sense". He continued: "Mr. Juncker is playing it straight. He's shown he will respect the democratic process, and then deal with the choice of the people of Scotland. We can do business with Mr. Juncker -- which is more than can be said for his predecessor."

For its part, the Westminster Government, which is increasingly adopting the anti-European agenda of the United Kingdom Independence Party, strongly opposed Mr. Juncker's appointment and hinted at a possible UK exit from the European Union. Alex Salmond observed: "It's a bit embarrassing, isn't it, when the UK Prime Minister devoted all of his energy to try to stop Mr. Juncker getting elected. David Cameron has been pretty well humiliated. I can't imagine why he made such an issue out of this. Nobody knew who Jean-Claude Juncker was before Mr. Cameron started elevating him to some great bete noire. If you're going to do that, you have to win -- not get totally, utterly and devastatingly humiliated." The only other state to oppose the nomination was Hungary.

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Support from IRELAND

A former Irish Foreign Minister and MEP has given his wholehearted support for Scottish self-government. 

Gerry Collins was Minister for Justice & Foreign Affairs in 1987-92, and MEP for Munster in 1994-97. In an interview with National Collective on 30 May 2014, Mr. Collins said “I hope Scotland votes for independence. You’re striving for a better country. I wish you well. If you feel you can handle yourselves, I see no reason why you can’t. I was always very friendly with supporters of independence. Winnie Ewing was a close ally of Fianna Fail in the European Parliament. Neil McCormick was another great man – one of the finest people I ever worked with. There is a natural sympathy for the Scots in Ireland. If the people in Scotland are satisfied, the Irish people would want Scotland to make a success of it.”

Other Irish political figures have also been supportive. Sean O Neachtain, a two-term member of the European Parliament for Fianna Fail, said “I believe that Scottish independence would be a welcome boost not only for Scotland but also the whole European format. We’re breaking down boundaries that are somewhat superficial. I look at independence as a means of unity rather than separation. It brings about 'unity by diversity' (the motto of the European Union). Scottish independence would bring about that aim. I strongly encourage independence, as many people here would.”

Pat Breen TD, Government Chair of Committee on Foreign Affairs, made it clear that the official Government position is one of neutrality. However, he welcomed any attempts to strengthen cooperation between Scotland and Ireland. The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny was unavailable for a full interview. However, he did treat the National Collective team to a rendition of Flower of Scotland during the Fine Gael Conference!  Gerry Collins’ position is based upon a clear sense of solidarity and affection for Scotland, as well as an inside knowledge of the success medium sized countries can have within the international community. He added: “The small countries have no baggage. You can be amenable, honest, upright and you can set your priorities. Recognise that being good Europeans is not in contradiction with being good for Scotland. I’d be certain that an independent Scotland would be good within a European context. You have a magnificent country. Enjoy it and handle it well.”

"Scotland could become an Irish ally in the new EU setting", according to Dr. Paul Gillespie, the former foreign editor of the Irish Times and a lecturer in European politics. "There would be great support for an independent Scotland from Ireland. There would be sympathy and solidarity. Scottish-Irish links have been dormant for too long. Whatever the result, this process will wake them up. That’s a good thing.” Ireland and Scotland would share many common interests within the European Union including pushing for reform of the Common Agricultural and Fishing Policies, as well as promoting trade in areas such as food, drink and tourism. The two Governments already sit side by side within the British & Irish Council and the Parliamentary Assembly", said Dr. Gillespie. In the event of a Yes vote, these bodies “would need developing. There would be an instinct for continuity. I’m sure the British & Irish Council would take on a new role, arguably a more important role.” The threat of Westminster taking the UK out of the European Union is a source of far greater concern in Ireland. If the rest of the UK did vote to leave the European Union following Scottish independence, this would add to the importance of Irish-Scottish links.

### See the full interviews at:   http://nationalcollective.com

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WINNERS AGAIN for Scotland in Europe                                        

The SNP came out on top again in the European Elections on 22 May 2014, with 389,503 votes (29.0%) -- 68,496 more than in 2009.  The party's 2 MEPs -- Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith (pictured) -- will be going back to Brussels. 

Scotland's party came first in 16 of the country's local authority areas, compared to 10 for Lab. (2 MEPs), 4 for Con. (1 MEP), 2 for Lib. Dem. (no MEPs), and 0 for UKIP. The 33.5% turnout was up on the June 2009 election, and the SNP again topped the poll in the City of Aberdeen. Although the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) managed to win a Euro seat -- thanks to generous publicity from the BBC -- the party which opposes Europe, immigrants and the Scottish Parliament didn't even come second anywhere in Scotland, and finished 4th overall. 

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented: This is a fantastic victory for the SNP and a vote of confidence in the Scottish Government. Over seven years into an SNP Government, and we have won the popular vote yet again in a UK-wide election. Ian and Alyn have been strong and effective voices for Scotland, helping to defend our interests in Europe and put forward Scotland’s case on key issues in the European Parliament. I am delighted that they have both been re-elected, and will continue to provide that strong, distinctive voice that Scotland needs in Europe. There can now be no doubt that the only threat to Scotland’s place in Europe, and our ability to bring jobs and investment to the country, is the UKIP agenda that is dictating the terms of Westminster politics. That agenda is the exact opposite of what Scotland needs, which is why we need to build our own relationship with our European neighbours as an independent country – something that only a Yes vote in September can secure.”

For the purpose of European Elections, Scotland is currently treated as an "electoral region", not as an independent state. This means that the six MEPs were elected to serve the entire country, rather than individual constituencies as is the case for Scottish Parliamentary elections.  The poll was initially organised on a local authority basis, after which the votes for each party were collated to give a grand total for the whole of Scotland. Election was by the d'Hondt proportional representation system. Because most of Europe voted on the following Sunday, the results were not known until late that evening.

SNP MEPs are in The European Free Alliance. The EFA says it "brings together 40 progressive parties which have elected representives at local, national and EU level in 17 member states".... "Scotland, like many other countries in the EFA family, is advancing on the road to national self-determination and a full place at the EU top table."         

### See below for the 2014 European Election results.

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SCOTLAND's place in the EU

The huge cultural and economic contribution Scotland makes to the European Union, and the attributes the country will bring as an independent and equal member, were outlined by the First Minister on 28 April 2014.

In a preamble to the speech he gave to the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, Alex Salmond said: “Scotland’s vast natural resources and human talent make it one of the lynchpins of the European Union. Our huge energy reserves, our economic and financial contribution, our fishing grounds, our academic, cultural and social links, and our commitment to the founding values of the European ideal place us at the very heart of the EU. One of the great issues facing Europe is the question of energy security. In this area Scotland is blessed. We have a key role to play in providing energy security for Europe, and in developing the low-carbon technologies the world will need for the future. Scotland has fully 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal potential, 10% of the EU’s wave potential and 60% of the EU’s oil reserves. But our importance to the European Union stretches further.

As one of the wealthiest countries, Scotland is a net financial contributor to the EU, and will remain so as an independent member. We have more top universities, per head, than any other member of the EU, and our academics collaborate with partners across Europe. We have one of the largest national shares of Europe’s total fishing grounds and 12 national fleets fish in our waters. The EU’s fisheries policy would unravel without Scotland.

Earlier this year, Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission, described two great Scottish judges -- Lord Mackenzie-Stuart and Sir David Edward -- as the true architects of our Union.  There are now 160,000 people from other EU states who have chosen to live and work in Scotland. Perhaps more than any of this, Scotland shares and promotes the values of solidarity, freedom and democracy that are the heart of the European project.”

### Full text of the Bruges speech at:    http://news.scotland.gov.uk/Speeches-Briefings/Scotland-s-Place-in-Europe-bdf.aspx

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AUSTRIA:  an example to follow

About the same size as Scotland, Austria's progress and status demonstrates how our country's international presence will be greatly enhanced following a 'Yes' majority in the forthcoming referendum.  

This was highlighted by Angus Robertson MP on his visit to Vienna on 2 May 2014. Speaking ahead of a presentation to a business, diplomatic and media audience, the SNP's Foreign Affairs spokesman said:  "As a similar-sized country to Scotland -- but a sovereign state -- Austria has a remarkable track record. It is home to an impressive range of bilateral and multilateral diplomatic representation. Vienna has more than 300 embassies and multilateral diplomatic missions, and a wide range of international organisations. The city hosts the third headquarters of the United Nations; and is the main HQ of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and more than 33 other international organisations."

"A recent Ernst and Young study showed that, because of its independent status, the Austrian economy is boosted by over £1billion a year. The country  has also  greatly  benefited as a centre for diplomatic and international activity. As a key international 'bridge-builder', it currently chairs the Council of Europe -- hosting key ongoing nuclear discussions between the international community and Iran, and other diplomatic initiatives. All of these activities boost Austria's international standing, and secures massive economic advantages. It has excellent direct flights and other travel connections to Europe and the world."

"Almost immediately after independence has been achieved, there will be moves by the international community to establish a permanent presence in Scotland. Consulates will be upgraded to embassies and High Commissions, and a wide range of new missions will be established. They will nearly all  provide employment opportunities for suitably qualified staff. Other global organisations and agencies will want to have a presence in Scotland, and it will be a perfect place for international conferences and events which will follow independence. This could lead to a significant expansion in our international travel connections. Scotland has a lot to contribute to the international community as a force for good. With a ‘Yes’ vote, we will also secure the bonus that the nation will enjoy as a sovereign state, and the positive impact this will have on our economy."

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Vive la FRANCE et l'ECOSSE                                                                                                                 

As proof that the Auld Alliance still binds the two countries, French politicians from opposite sides of the political spectrum have expressed their support for an independent Scotland’s place in the European Union.

On 13 March 2014, the Herald reported a comment made by Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, a senior conservative, who said: "If Scotland votes for independence, it will stay in the European Union. It would be in England's interest." And in an interview on BBC 2's Politics Scotland programme, Axelle Lemaire, a young socialist born in Quebec, dismissed the No campaign's scaremongering on Scotland’s EU membership. She stated: “It’s up to the Scottish people and to the people who live in Scotland, in general, to express their views… I don’t think it was up to President Barroso to say what he thinks about it.”

Christina McKelvie MSP, who convenes the European Committee in the Scottish Parliament, commented: “These common-sense opinions from our friends in France are most welcome. With Labour edging ever closer to the Tories’ commitment to an in-out EU referendum, it is now indisputable that the threat to Scotland continuing in the European Union comes from remaining under the Westminster system. The London Government's lurch to the right is being driven by UKIP’s hard-right agenda and is the biggest source of uncertainty faced by people and business." Christian Allard MSP, who was born in France, said: “Ms. Lemaire’s comments are very welcome indeed. With a Yes vote in September's referendum, Scotland will gain the right to speak with our own voice in Europe and ensure that the needs of people in Scotland are always heard in EU negotiations.”

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SMALL STATES in the majority

On 7 February 2014, several experts on the European Union highlighted the strength of small states at the EU’s top table.

They were giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament's European & External Relations Committee. Prof. Michael Keating, the director of the Economic & Social Research Council's Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change, said: "The recent accessions have brought in more small states, so they are clearly in the majority. That's the normal thing to be. Small states are more likely to end up on the winning side in votes, have a constructive pro-European approach, and can better maximise opportunities by holding the Council Presidency."

Baldur Thorhallsson, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Iceland, stated that he didn’t see “any reason” why an independent Scotland “should not be able to do as well as Denmark, or Sweden or Finland.” Anders Wivel, an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Dept. of Political Science told the committee that small EU member states that are well prepared and flexible enough to act fast can “gain influence early on”. Brandon Malone, a solicitor advocate who is a member of the Law Society’s Constitutional Law Sub-committee, cited his support for the Scottish Government’s proposed timetable for EU entry.

Clare Adamson MSP, a committee member, commented:  “Today’s evidence highlighted the opportunities that will open up to Scotland when we become an independent member. The possibilities brought from being an independent EU member are endless, and there is growing consensus that Scotland will be a success. As part of the UK, Scotland currently loses out on support. Just last year, the UK Government’s decision not to award up to €230million of Common Agricultural Policy funding to Scotland for 2014-20 cost our farmers dear. Only independence gives us the opportunity to get the most out of being part of the EU. With the Tories intent on holding a referendum that could rip Scotland out of Europe, the only threat to Scotland’s EU membership is a No vote in September. More and more experts are backing our common-sense approach to EU membership. A Yes vote will allow Scotland to make the most of being part of Europe -- finally taking its seat at the top table.”

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A positive INTERNATIONAL partner                                                                                                    

ANGUS ROBERTSON MP is the SNP spokesman on Defence & International Affairs in the UK Parliament. The following is an extract from his speech to the Institute for International & European Affairs, in Dublin on 20 January 2014.

In these islands we are bound by historic, economic and social ties of great value. This importance is not of itself determined by where political decision-making lies, but we have the opportunity to do so on the basis of equality. We now have a British-Irish Council which brings together Governments from across Britain and Ireland. With a sovereign Scotland, there will be three independent Governments in the Council.  Together with the Irish Republic and the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland will be working with the devolved and island authorities.  The secretariat of the Council is already headquartered in Edinburgh, and there is active co-operation between the Governments across the widest range of subjects, from health to the environment.

Scotland is a bigger trading partner with the rest of the United Kingdom than China, India, Russia and Brazil combined. This is also true for Ireland. Our Common Travel Area, citizenship and voting rights, and other co-operation arrangements, including the importance of our shared common market through the European Union, are crucial. It is in all of our interests that these closest of relationships flourishes. It is in the interests of all of the peoples of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and our immediate island neighbours, that our co-operation goes from strength to strength.

It is also crucial that we continue to safeguard and build on the advantages delivered through the European Union. Decades of peace, economic growth and social rights; free movement of people, goods, services and capital; and co-operation in an ever-widening European Union are a massive achievement.  28 member states make up the European Union, and more seek to join. We look forward to Scotland taking its seat at the EU top table shortly. While there is no doubt there is a need for democratic, political and economic reform to how the European Union works, we need to face up to the threats posed by strong Europhobic extremes, especially in UK politics outside Scotland. Even the UK Government is planning an 'in-out' EU referendum, and is being politically driven by anti-Europeans in UKIP and the Tory Party. This is dangerous to Scottish and Irish interests and, incidentally, also to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

###  See the whole speech at:    http://www.snp.org/blog/post/2014/jan/scotland-positive-international-partner

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SPAIN won't veto our EU membership

Anti-Scottish politicians have repeatedly claimed that Spain would automatically block Scotland's accession to the European Union as a self-governing state.

And yet again, this particular scare story has been disproved. Speaking to the La Vanguardia newspaper on 17 December 2013, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo (pictured) confirmed that his country would not veto Scottish membership if our independence is recognised by the Westminster Government.  He said: “Spain does not work on hypotheses. What I do say is that the attitude of the United Kingdom would be the determining factor at the time of deciding our vote.”

Sen. Garcia-Margallo was essentially repeating what he told the Diario Vasco newspaper in February 2012. On that occasion he said: "If in the UK both parties agree that this is consistent with their constitutional order -- written or unwritten -- Spain would have nothing to say, just that this does not affect us. No one would object to a consented independence of Scotland."

Put briefly -- if London recognises Scottish independence, Spain will too. The world knows that our path to independence has been entirely democratic, conciliatory and peaceful. The Edinburgh Agreement, signed by the Scottish and UK Governments in October 2012, provides the legal and constitutional framework within which the referendum is taking place, and binds each side to accept and recognise a Yes majority result next September. 

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EXTERNAL AFFAIRS SECRETARY visits Denmark and Sweden

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture & External Affairs, FIONA HYSLOP, was welcomed by Denmark and Sweden in December 2013. The short visit was the latest in a series of knowledge exchanges between Scotland and its Nordic and Baltic neighbours.

The Scottish Government minister arrived in Copenhagen on 8 December 2013,  where she met with leading Danish architects. On the following day she visited the Danish Culture Ministry, before crossing the Oresund Bridge to Sweden. In a lecture at Lund University, the Cabinet Secretary stated the compelling case for Scotland to become a modern independent country.

Ms. Hyslop commented: “There is much that Scotland can learn from Denmark and Sweden. With its strong track record in the provision of childcare and environmental management, Sweden has consistently been in the top ten of the UN Human Development Index. Denmark has long been at the forefront of the preservation of urban, rural and marine environments. We are determined to build on our increasing links with our Nordic and Baltic neighbours to ensure Scotland can continue to benefit from their expertise in the areas for which they are world-renowned."

The European Union’s new Nordic Periphery and Arctic programme for 2014-2020 will launch this year, under Scotland’s leadership, and will provide a great opportunity to deepen collaboration and co-operation.

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Prime Minister of LATVIA gives his support 

VALDIS DOMBROVKIS has said that the legitimacy of Scotland's independence process was "ideal", and there could be no grounds for objection from any other country. 

In an interview broadcast on Catalan TV3 on 12 September 2013, the Latvian PM opened the door to international recognition of both  Scottish and Catalan independence. Mr. Dombrovkis pointed out that although the EU is avoiding  making a public statement about what would happen if part of a member state became independent, there are already negotiations taking place in Brussels. "There is still no final decision, and until now I have to admit that the topic has not been treated with any sense of urgency."

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No LEGAL barriers to our EU membership                                                                                           

The Law Society of Scotland made a welcome contribution to the referendum debate on 4 August 2013.  In its report, the Society stated that Scotland would encounter no legal obstacles to its independent membership of the European Union. 

The paper says that Scotland already complies with EU treaties and "acquis" (the total body of EU law); and so qualifies "in legal terms, for EU membership in its own right" and "would have the capacity to be recognised as an independent state". Bearing this in mind, the Society goes on to ask the UK Government whether it would support Scotland's status as an independent member state in Europe. Those actively campaigning against Scottish statehood are also questioned on what position they would adopt in relation to negotiations on accession which would follow a Yes vote next year; and whether they have any intention of calling for the transfer of further powers to Scotland in the event of a No majority.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Law Society's report confirmed that Scotland already meets the criteria for membership laid down by the EU (and many other international institutions), and that independence would enable Scotland to protect its interests in Europe. "That is the common sense position that we have set out and which is supported by a number of eminent experts in EU affairs.  It would be counter to the entire ethos of the EU to seek to remove a country which wishes to remain within it and which already complies with EU laws."

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DENMARK welcomes Scotland

Key political figures and leading academics in DENMARK have said that an independent Scotland's membership of the European Union would be straightforward and in Danish national interests.

Jakob Ellemann-Jensen MP, spokesman on European Affairs for Venstre, Denmark's largest parliamentary party, said: "Should Scotland vote for independence, it would only be natural for Denmark to acknowledge this and to welcome Scotland in the EU and NATO." Rasmus Helveg Petersen MP, the spokesperson on foreign affairs for the Social Liberals -- who are part of the Danish Government -- stated that Scottish membership of the EU would be "a mere formality.”

Academics have echoed this sentiment, including Prof. Lars Bo Kaspersen, Head of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen. He said that Scottish EU membership "would be in the Danish interest. I'm sure the European Union in general would strongly support Scottish membership, and the same goes for NATO. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't think it was a good idea."

This significant intervention was warmly welcomed by SNP Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon on 10 July 2013. She commented: “Denmark is a small, successful independent country, and provides us with an indication of how Scotland can similarly thrive with the full powers that a Yes vote will deliver. As pointed out by our friends in Denmark, Scotland will be welcomed into the EU as an independent country, and we will negotiate our position in Europe after a Yes vote in 2014 leads to independence in 2016.  The UK alternative is to be dragged to the EU exit door as Westminster descends into a right-wing debating society. The Tories and Labour are now both competing on a UKIP agenda that has been resoundingly rejected in Scotland."

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CROATIA joins EU                                                                                                                               

On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union, the first to join since Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.

Their accession followed a referendum in January 2012, when 66% voted in favour of joining. At 56,542 sq.km, and with a population of 4,291,000, it is obviously smaller than Scotland.

Like other European nations, Croatia is well aware of our move towards independent statehood. This was demonstrated when Scotland took on their national football team, in a World Cup qualifier on 7 June 2013. Although they won 0-1 in Zagreb, the chances of Gordon Strachan's men going to Brazil this year are zero.   Picture: The home defeat didn't dissuade the Croatian fans from displaying their backing for Scotland.  

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REFERENDUM on UK Membership of the European Union.  23 June 2016

SCOTLAND voted:

Remain    1,661,191    62.0%

Leave       1,018,332   38.0%

Maj.  642,859    Turnout 67.2%

 

Result in ABERDEEN:

Remain       63,985     61.1%

Leave         40,729     38.9%

Maj.  23,256      Turnout 67.9%

 

 

Election Result:    EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (Scotland).  22 May 2014

SNP                       389,503             29.0%          2 seats*

Lab.                       348,219             25.9%          2 seats

Con.                       231,330             17.2%          1 seat

UKIP                      140,534             10.4%          1 seat

Green                     108,305              8.1%           0 seat

Lib. Dem.                 95,319              7.1%           0 seat

Others                      30,273              2.3%           0 seat

Maj.  41,284     Turnout 33.5%

 

CITY OF ABERDEEN

SNP                          15,412

Lab.                          12,420

Con.                           9,824

UKIP                           5,025

Lib. Dem.                   4,605

Green                         3,723

Others                        1,124

Maj. 2,992       Turnout 31.8%

 

*SNP MEPs elected were:

Ian Hudghton

Alyn Smith