If Scotland left the United Kingdom it would automatically leave the European Union, says EU parliament

The Sunday Times, which is safely behind a paywall, has an interesting article by Jenny Hjul on the vexed question of Scottish separatism. Ms Hjul concludes that the movement for independence is doomed, and the man who has doomed it is none other than Mr Barroso himself.

What has happened is this: someone has been asking questions in the European Parliament. Here is a link to the question, and here is the answer that was given to the question. All of this requires some unpacking, for the language of the European Parliament is rather gnomic. But what it means, as far as I can see, is this:

First of all, the European Union has no laws that foresee the secession of part of a nation state. Therefore, the secession of Scotland from the United Kingdom would take the EU into unknown territory.

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But the second thing is this, which is very clear. When you lose the citizenship of a member country of the EU, you also lose citizenship of the EU, which is additional to but does not replace national citizenship.

So, this means in no uncertain terms that the moment Scotland leaves the UK, its people become former citizens of the UK and former citizens of the EU. Scotland would then have to negotiate entry into the EU – this might be quite a quick process, but it would not be automatic. And as a new member of the EU, the new nation of Scotland would have to accept membership of the Euro, because the UK opt outs would not longer apply.

This is not something, one suspects, that Mr Salmond bargained for, and he has denied this state of affairs and is preparing a reasoned and lengthy response which will be published sometime in the future. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say. My guess is that Mr Salmond will have to appeal to Brussels and the Union for some sort of Union legislation that would allow Mr Salmond what he wanted – to leave the UK and stay in the Union. The Union could of course legislate for this – but will they? Would the Spanish, and all the other nations which have secession issues want to make things easy for those who wish to secede? I doubt it!

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