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How the EU has doomed Scottish independence

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

By on Monday, 17 September 2012

The man who killed Scottish independence?    AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

The man who killed Scottish independence? AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

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.

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!

  • Cestius

    I’m sure a fix would quickly be found so that Scotland would remain in the EU. But another much bigger stumbling block concerns Scotland’s currency.  Sticking with pound stirling would mean that Scotland was not really independent of decisions taken in London, and at the moment the Euro isn’t a very attractive option.  Until the Euro problems are properly sorted out, suspect that Scotland’s independence will be on the back burner.

  • paulpriest

    Why wouldn’t they be allowed to?

    …and why is this on the Catholic Herald?

    Unless you wish to extoll the political works of Ss. Aquinas & Bellarmine on the nature of democracy and the state and solidarity and it’s conformity with Divine Justice and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy?

    Or the potential for a seceded Scotland to overturn European legislation containing grave moral evils co-operating with the culture of death?

    Or economic provisions within European law contrary to Rerum Novarum, Quadragesima Anno, Populorum Progressio, Solicitudio Rei Socialis etc which are detrimental to the weak, vulnerable, impoverished, dispossessed & disenfranchised?

    Or the possible exemption from European law on same sex marriage in a seceded Scotland which would allow Christian Churches to remain part of the Civil marriage system?

    …or maybe someone was too busy watching Downton Abbey?

  • Chris McLLauughlin

    Even if this is correct (and I’m not convinced that it is – see the example of Greenland which seceded from Denmark), Scotland would not be the only successor state – the rest of the UK (RUK) would be too. If Scotlaand had to apply to join the EU, then so would RUK as both would be new states. I find it unlikely that th EU would insist upon RUK joinging the Euro. Generally speaking international convention would dictate that both successor states “inherit” EU membership and their negotiated opt-outs under the Maastricht treaty. Furthermore, although new EU states are required to joing the euro, no time frame is written down. Poland, for example is theoretically bound by treaty to join the Euro, but more than 8 years into membership it still has not done so and appears to have no intenton of doing so in the foreseeable future. Plus the Eurozone has enoush problems at present and will probably require a new monetary union treaty before any new members are accepted.

  • James

    The Treaty of Union (1707) makes it clear England and Scotland are equal partners in the Union, therefore an argument could be put forward that Scotland is not seceeding from the UK, rather the UK is breaking up.

    If that were the case, both Scotland and the rest of the UK could either be considered continuing members, or both have to re-apply.

    The issue is very far from straightforward.

  • Just_a_simpleton

    The UK would not be a new state. It would be the same state but without Scotland. Havng cut itself off from the UK Scotland would be a new state and would have to be newly constituted as one. I agree, though, with paulpriest in wondering why this is a blog entry in the Catholic Herald – especially one written by a priest who would, one hopes, recognise that there are important matters to write about.    In the broader scheme of things this is just so unimportant.

  • JabbaPapa

    Even if this is correct (and I’m not convinced that it is – see the example of Greenland which seceded from Denmark)

    Greenland used to be a part of the EEC (or EU – not sure about the dates here) — it is not a member of the EU.

    The case of Greenland actually confirms this.

  • JabbaPapa

    …and why is this on the Catholic Herald?

    A more important question might be :

    Would refraining from irrelevant and gratuitous trolling be contrary to your religious beliefs ?

  • paulpriest

    No I’m sorry we have a Church in absolute crisis…

    Parishes being dismantled, dioceses crumbling, schools being cast into desuetude and millions who were potentially a future Catholic generation have been thrown out into the wilderness amongst the wolves due to the defiant negligence, contempt and self-interest of our Shepherds and their appointed executive officers, our hierarchies turning so vichyist and relativist and irrelevant..the whole Catholic ethos  argot and praxis is being cast to the winds across Our Lady’s Dowry….
    With new legislations eradicating conscience rights and any right to religious freedom other than personal private worship
    With the genocidal culture of death murdering millions of our neighbours in this country alone every decade
    with the nightmares of eugenics and euthanasia on our doorstep
    and with the distinct possibility that it will be a criminal offence to oppose any of it

    We’re at war – and what was once merely a spiritual war has become manifest in every part of our daily lives…

    …and what are we being treated to?

    inanity about Scotland

    Deckchairs on Titanic…again!

    I think I prefer the halcyon pseudo-Bridesheadian elitism of ye olde heralde with its Pugin & Newman obsession…

  • Chris McLaughlin

    Denmark joined the EEC in 1973 at the same time as the UK and Ireland, signing the same treaty at the same time. Greenland left the EC (as was) in 1992 following a referendum. It was not “kicked-out” when granted home rule from Denmark in 1979.

  • Chris McLaughlin

     My mistake, Greenland actually left in 1985, but the argument still holds.

  • teigitur

    You are partially correct Father. Consistantly  only c.30% of people here say they would vote for it anyway. I know of very few friends and family planning to do so.I get the feeling that, in common with other parts of the UK, people would like to be outside the EU anyway,as it seems to become more monstrous by the week.

  • South Saxon

    I believe that the success of British Olympians renewed positive feelings towards the Union north of the Tweed and that London 2012 has diminished the appeal of separatism.

  • Alexander VI

    Have you always been a pub bore?

  • Veuster

    I’m not quite sure why Fr Lucie-Smith has posted this article on a Catholic blog rather than on a political one, but I do know of at least one violently anti-EU Scottish Conservative (not myself) who argues that Scotland’s being ejected forcibly from the EU would be the only thing that might tempt him to vote for independence in the referendum!

  • wyldershand

    “…and why is this on the Catholic Herald?”

    Oh, do you own the Catholic Herald, Paul? Do you edit it? If not, what right have you to say what is posted on its website?


  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Surely this is of interest to Catholics? We believe in subsidiarity, don’t we? But we also believe in international solidarity. The two seem to be in conflict in this case. Incidentally, I have no particular personal view on Scottish separatism – that is up to them. But I think this poses a problem for the Church in Scotland, given that the Church, historically, has been strongly in favour of the European Union. How should the Church guide its flock in view of the coming referendum? Just asking….

  • teigitur

    I was not aware that the Church was strongly in favour of the European Union.

  • paulpriest

     er..since when?

    I’m sorry Father but I’m just about old enough to remember the referendum to leave or remain within  the European Union…and Scottish Catholic hierarchical opinion [being of a distinctly Old-Labour/Old Tory flavour] was very far from hyper-enthusiastic regarding the Common Market…

    …and certainly this may be of interest to those reading the Scottish Catholic Observer; and may have been of a slight interest to us had you mentioned subsidiarity/solidarity in your original post – or the potential consequences for a Church position or catholic teaching on such issues…maybe thrown in a little Caritas in Veritate? Or even an appeal to the great St Boniface who Christianised Northern Continental Europe?

    …and maybe even brought in Bishop Kenny’s comments in the Herald last week on the wonders of the European Union [while he was somewhat remiss in failing to mention its deplorable record regarding its formal and material co-operation with the culture of death and the dissolution of the rights to conscience and religious freedom and the dissolution of the integrity of the family]

    ..or maybe you could have mentioned the march through the streets of London on Saturday for a Secularised Europe?

    I don’t know…but the way it was presented just seemed like an interesting across the breakfast table political comment…

  • paulpriest

    I’m a non-entity: Asking a simple question.

    I just wanted to find out what was the point of such a posting in regards to the Catholic Church in England & Wales; and yet again was somewhat irked that there are hundreds of crucial, critical issues which need to be addressed but they seem to be either too awkward or too confrontational to discuss…

  • Guest

    I think Fr Lucie-Smith should write something about cohabitation and the begetting of children out of wedlock. Big problem among the UK lay faithful, and rarely tackled by our Catholic press.

  • Parasum

    Don’t give them ideas, Father, please. Some of us loathe the EUSSReich, and want to stay in the Union.

  • paulpriest

    …it’s most certainly an issue which should be discussed!

    [being someone living in sin myself and being compelled by grave reason and circumstance to live with the consequences of my reckless sinful actions]

    …but of course the guest already knew that :)

  • Parasum

    “Bishop Kenny’s comments in the Herald last week on the wonders of the European Union”

    ## It is not for the clergy to usurp the mission of the laity. If the men in mitres  really must blather about strictly political decisions, they should give up on the day job and become honest-to-God politicos. Jean Monnet was a scoundrel but at least he had the decency not to pretend his political nonsense had the backing of the Almighty.  If they don’t do that, they are self-convicted of seeking political power as well as spiritual power. We don’t offer Mass or give absolution – what do they think they are, barging in like heavies (which is what most of them look like) on the mission of the laity ? If they long to be the bouncers most of them resemble, they should resign and let priests with the souls of priests do the job they do so very badly. 

    When men of the cloth play at politics, the result is always the prostitution of their authority to base ends; and they should in case leave politics to the laity. If OTOH the distinction between the mission of the laity and that of the clergy is mere words – it is high time that was made clear. 

    The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe is officially pro-EU – being shining beacons of integrity, they don’t bother telling the laity about this. What we think about the EUSSReich does not matter. Since the bishops are elected without any tosh about what the people think, and since the paper safeguards against the ordination of evil men are worthless, it is understandable that one bunch of autocrats should appeal to another. Now as never before Britain must stand up for its constititional tradition that is contrary to the absolutism preferred by Catholicism on the Continent.   

  • Scotsfox

    The UK is a Treaty between Scotland & England and with the dissolution of that Treaty there is no UK. So it cannot continue to be the UK less Scotland.

  • paulpriest

     Parasum there’s always a difference between ‘playing politics’

    [Think +Cormac sidling up to Blair , or +Smiffy saying we have no problem with the Mental Capacity Act [during a Commons debate on it!] or +Smiffy’s welcoming of the assisted suicide prosecution guidleines, or +Vin on the non-opposition to civil partnerships or +Malcy on Labour’s proposed sex education bill [where the CES's Oona Stannard had sold out our schoolkids]]

    …and ‘living politics’ [think St Laurence against Valerian or Paul, Avila, Siena, Neri against the Popes or  Cardinal Manning with the Dockers & East End Poverty & his assistance with formulating Rerum Novarum] or His Holiness while Cardinal Ratzinger ordering the US Bishops that they had to preach to the faithful to vote from a Pro-Life perspective in elections [of course +Rembert Weakland played politics with that and lied to the USCCB about the order]

    …the latter is our Shepherds engaging in their apostolic duty – actuating the corporal works of mercy…

    …the former has our shepherds relying on our mercy not to rip them new ones…

  • Recusant

    Ooooh, that gives me an idea. I am going to campaign for England to leave the United Kingdom.

  • JByrne24

    “er..since when?” [..has the Church been strongly in favour of a united Europe].

    Well paulpriest, you may not be old enough, but I well remember that it [the Catholic Church] was delirious about the idea, from before the time of the UK joining the early Common Market onwards (although, with its usual very earthly wisdom, rather silent in recent years, as public discontent with the EU in Britain has been growing).

    Priests in their pulpits, from far north to far south, on Sundays talked enthusiastically about “A United Christendom”. The Church in Britain was a significant instrument in selling the idea of a united, federal Europe to Christians and particularly to Catholics.

  • JByrne24

    Well that’s one thing about the Church of which you are unaware.

    Please see my comment above re. paulpriest.

  • JByrne24

    For goodness’ sake paulpriest, you are not “living in sin”.

    The vast majority of children are conceived “out of wedlock” (a really ghastly term), and well over half of so-called “Catholic children” (i.e. children born to Catholic parents) are also so-conceived.

  • Just_a_simpleton

    And Wales? And Northern Ireland?

  • Lewispbuckingham

     And within the Church there still is the possibility of resolution and regularisation.
     Welcome back JB.

  • Scotsfox

    They will have to enter into a new treaty I would suspect as the treaty which created the UK will be no more.

  • Just_a_simpleton

    “They” being who exactly? And how?

  • teigitur

    Well perhaps Im too young to remember. Of course at the start it was not a bad idea at all. It has gone much too far since then, seeking to interfere always and everywhere.

  • Charles

    Lets see of the Scots reclaim the courage of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in freeing themselves from European bureaucratic entanglements. The human race is not ready for one world government nor for a European Imperial bureaucracy. Local control is always the most democratic and local control is part of subsidiarity. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • JabbaPapa

    “Home rule” is not the same thing as “secession”.

    A territory that is under the aegis of home rule, as Scotland is by the way for a great variety of things, is not necessarily to be considered as an independently sovereign territory.

    According to Wikipedia, though : In 1985, Greenland left the European Economic Community (EEC) upon achieving self-rule, in view of the EEC’s commercial fishing regulations and an EEC ban on seal skin products.

    Secession from the EEC can then be seen as a direct consequence of the (still-ongoing) secession of Greenland from Denmark.

  • JabbaPapa

    Cripes — he’s back !!!

    JB24, I would imagine that paulpriest has a far greater knowledge of his own sins than is provided by your theologically lax extreme liberalism masquerading as “Catholic”.

  • JabbaPapa

    That’s obviously fair enough up to a point, but not *everything* has to devolve into a discussion of orthodoxy versus heterodoxy in any and every topic under the Sun ???

    Last I checked, the Kingdom of Scotland is not a dependency of the Holy See, is it ?

  • paulpriest

     No – most definitely not – but one does not win a battle by picking flowers on the battlefield and walking over the corpses without a mention…

    The Herald should be a source of spiritual, moral, intellectual, cultural and social inspiration – I can [just about] understand denunciation of Maltese dictators, praise for Maltese tenors or ANWilson, I can even [barely] find some justification for comments on Prince Harry’s goolies or Bill Gates’s toilets [while forgetting he wishes to wipe out a fifth of the world's population]….

    But I doubt the WW2 Jews were writing about Richard Tauber’s latest ’78 or the mucky bits in Lady Chatterly’s lover or the consequences of Hitler’s invasion for Czech Cabernet Sauvignon production – while the Nazi stormtroopers were dragging people out of houses and rapidly  heading towards theirs….

  • Chris McLaughlin

     I didn’t say that home rule was the same as secessation. What I said was that the Greenland case is the closest thing the EU has to a precedent. In that case Greenland was not expelled from the EU when it became autonomous, nor was it forced to re-apply for entry. Rather it inherited continued membership from Denmark, which it subsequently chose to give up some years later.

  • W Oddie

    Fine by me: let’s just be “England’ again.

  • W Oddie

    No: Wales was already integrated into England long before the union with Scotland (by that great king Edward I, ‘hammer of the Scots’). As for Northern Ireland, let’s not get into that one.

  • Alan

    So, if Scotland became separatist, would you then support moves for each local bit of Scotland to separate from the rest?  A complete Balkanisation?

  • Scotsfox

    They being England/Wales & Northern Ireland. How? well that’s up to them.

  • JByrne24

    I’m not masquerading as a Catholic. After 70 plus years as a Catholic I believe I’ve formally left the Church – but shall still keep in touch with a few priests I know.

    I should have left years ago – but at least I did make my escape before I snuffed it.  So at (or near) the end ,the score is JB24 “1″ ;  RC Church “0″.

  • JabbaPapa

    That’s The Devil 1 : God & JB24 nil ATM

    Your soul is in grievous peril, and you don’t even realise it …

    You have chosen the values of worldliness instead of godliness.

    OK your choice — but do not imagine for an instant that any orthodox Christians, Catholic or otherwise, could possibly accept nor support your willful blasphemies.

  • Matthew Roth

    That’ll be interesting. Football will never again be contested under the Team GB banner like it was in 2012, but I haven’t heard any talk about Rugby 7s. Scotland and Wales are regulars on the 7s circuit, and the IRFU organizes rugby on an all-Ireland basis. The unions and the IRB say that an Ulster player could get chosen by one or both teams, but that’s not a satisfactory compromise, considering that this is international play. The British and Irish Lions is treated as international representation for call-ups and records, but it doesn’t and never will compete in tournaments like the World Cup. Also, if the Lions are any example, selection is slanted towards the head coach’s usual team, and England 7s is the most successful 7s program, so the team won’t be balanced. 

    At least the IRB can’t force an all-UK side; the board’s decisions hinge on one or more home nation deciding in favor of a proposal. 

  • Andycstewart

    Lot of rubbish, the EU will beg us to join with our renewables credentials alone. End of!