Scottish Independence and Scotland's Future Scotland in Europe
The European Flag
Adopted 1955 by the Council of Europe
Also used since 1986 by the EEC/EU and others
Scotland in Europe
“Scotland in Europe” is not an empty phrase. Scotland is in Europe
whether we like it or not. Scotland has always been in Europe and has
benefited enormously from its contacts and connections there from
mediaeval times to the present day. There is therefore every reason for
active participation by Scotland in European affairs.
aside the special chapter of post-independence cooperation between the
nations of the so-called British Isles, the rash of European
institutions that have emerged since World War 2 (the “New European
Political Architecture”) makes it imperative that Scotland should
clarify its position in relation to continental Europe. One such
institution, the European Union, stands out from the others in a number
of respects and demands special scrutiny here.
emphasis on political and economic institutions is necessary in this
context, but it should not be allowed to overshadow the fact that
Scotland will continue to enjoy a multitude of personal and communal
links with continental European countries of a social, economic and
cultural nature. This is as it should be, and in considering the nature
of formal relations at institutional level we should not lose sight of
the fact that it is not the whole story.
Scotland’s Place in Europe
Geographically, Europe extends from the Atlantic to the Urals.
Scotland’s sphere of interest on the continent has traditionally
encompassed Scandinavia and the Baltic region, the Duchy of Burgundy and
the Low Countries, now the Netherlands and Belgium. The numerous trading
links, two-way migration and dynastic marriages with those countries are
one of the most prominent features of Scottish history down through the
High Middle Ages it was monks from Scotland and Ireland who evangelised
Europe right into the depths of Russia, as is shown to this day by the
hundreds of Scots Monasteries and Scots Churches that exist all over the
continent. The names of Kant, Keith, Loudon and many other Scots and
their descendants who gained prominence in European history are revered
to this day.
much should be made of the so-called Auld Alliance with France, which
was largely a product of the traditional French foreign policy of
surrounding France’s enemies (in this case England) with a ring of steel
through treaties with surrounding smaller states. It rarely worked to
Scotland’s advantage, and it resulted in the disaster of Flodden in 1513
after the English invaded France and Scotland’s treaty obligation to
support France led to military defeat and the loss of an entire
generation of Scottish leaders. That French policy was later abandoned
in favour of European integration, organised in such a manner as to
protect France’s political and economic interests.
* * * *
the relatively short 300-year “British” episode – relative to Scotland’s
1,500-year history as a political entity – is nearing its end, it is
time to review the nation’s relationship with the neighbouring continent
of Europe and the 50 European states (if one counts the dubious case of
Kosovo). This must be approached in the light of first principles as
well as of the emerging new European “political architecture”, the
development of which is very far from being at an end.
starting point must be Scotland’s geographical, and hence geo-economic
and geo-political situation, which governs all other considerations.
Topographically, Scotland is a typical Scandinavian country. In round
figures, it has approximately 12,000 kilometres of coastline, with some
130 inhabited islands, and a land frontier of only 150 km, running for
the most part over uninhabitable mountainous country. There are only
two main land routes into and out of the country, on the east and west
coasts, as if Scotland were joined to a neighbouring island by two
5 million people live on only 3% of Scotland’s land area. Settlement is
largely on coastal strips, river valleys and fjords, with vast areas of
uninhabitable mountains in between. The geographical latitude, and a
position on the north-east Atlantic seaboard, determine Scotland’s
typically Scandinavian climate and weather, which affect large areas of
economic and social policy.
geographical island situation, borne out by centuries of history,
determines that Scotland’s links in the first instance ought to be with
its Nordic neighbours, who share the problems, and the possibilities for
cooperation, of the same physical environment.
therefore sound strategic policy that Scotland should apply for
membership of the Nordic Council and enhance its links with its
Nordic neighbours. In particular, after the unmitigated disaster of the
unwarranted EU intervention in the region, it is imperative that the
administration of the north-east Atlantic waters should be vested in a
partnership of Scotland, Denmark, the Faeroes, Iceland, Norway, Russia
and Greenland. This close regional cooperation should take place
parallel to participation in a relatively loose all-European system of
Cooperation on an all-European Basis
of broader European cooperation is more complex. Unlike other regions
of the world, which are mostly represented by single organisations,
Europe has a number of major organisations with specialised fields of
operation but partly overlapping functions. The principal ones with
which Scotland has to concern itself are the 47-member Council of
Europe (CoE), the 56-member UN Economic Commission for Europe
(UNECE), the 57-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE), the 28-member European Union (EU), the
31-member European Economic Area (EEA), the 4-member European
Free Trade Association (EFTA), and the 28-member + 22-partner
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
“political architecture” is still in a state of flux, and considerable
changes must be anticipated over time. Much of the work that these
organisations are carrying out is transitional in nature, and when that
transition to a more permanent European situation has been completed
will no longer justify the existence of the institutions concerned, at
least in their present form.
The work of
the Council of Europe is largely timeless, especially the
European Court of Human Rights, which will remain essential as an appeal
instance from national courts.
must, however, be expected to lose a large part of their justification
when the effects of the Second World War and the Communist system have
been overcome, when political conditions are finally stable, the
transcontinental infrastructure is complete and economic differences and
production costs have been largely evened out.
point is the extent to which the development of political institutions
at global level, especially the World Trade Organisation, has rendered
corresponding European institutions superfluous. There is a body of
opinion in Europe, especially Scandinavia, that even the European
Economic Area (EEA) is no longer necessary, because the WTO rules
provide sufficient protection and regulation.
European political system will eventually need to be drastically slimmed
down to reflect the reduction in the need for regulatory structures at
European level. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen –
such systems tend to be self-propagating, even after their original
raison d'être no longer applies.
rate, in the light of the existing situation, it would be advisable for
independent Scotland to seek membership of all of these organisations
with the exception of the European Union. There are very good
reasons for this policy, which it is necessary to explain here.
this is intended to deny the undoubted benefits that the EU has brought
to continental countries in some fields, and especially the good work it
has carried out in Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, but the
balance of considerations for Scotland’s purposes is that membership is,
and in the EU’s present form will remain, contrary to Scotland’s
28-member European Union
(EU), half the size of the major organisations, and representing just
over half of the total number of European states, and of the overall
European population, is not “Europe”. It is the only
international organisation in the world that claims to exercise
sovereignty over its member states through supranational institutions.
This is a clear indication of an underlying political intention to
develop it into a centralised European state.
It is also
betrayed by the EU terminology – “European” Council, “European”
Commission, “European” Parliament, and so on, none of which are
justified by the number of its member states or by the EU’s geographical
scope. There are, for example, four European parliaments, of which the
other three, called “parliamentary assemblies” have far more democratic
Stalinist economic policies of the EU are repeating all the
ideological, centralist planning blunders that led to the downfall of
the Soviet Union. Its restrictive rules and practices are increasingly
hampering free sustainable economic development. Its bureaucratic
regulation is strangling enterprise and efficient business practices.
And the justified idealism of its founding generation has long since
degenerated into a mindless ideology: integration for the sake of
Byzantine decision making procedures make only the smallest cosmetic
concessions to democracy. In fact, the EU is to a considerable extent
dominated by thousands of lobbyists who spend vast sums of money in
Brussels in order to influence its policies. The resulting
neo-conservative policies favouring corporate Europe and the interests
of multinational concerns lie behind much of the EU’s suffocation and
destruction of agriculture, fisheries, small business and individual
centrally organised destruction of two thirds of the Scottish fishing
industry for the benefit of richer EU members, as well as gross
mismanagement in Brussels, has reduced Scotland’s wealth-creation
capacity by an amount now approaching £2,000 million every single
year as well as destroying tens of thousands of jobs, killing an
entire way of life, and destroying centuries-old fishing communities and
applies to the destruction of the profitable and efficient Scottish
steel industry in the course of democracy-free rationalisation on an
from such direct exploitation, Scotland as a member of the UK is a
substantial net contributor to the EU. Only a fraction of this
contribution – Scotland’s own money – comes back in the form of EU
funding, and even that is rapidly diminishing. It is estimated that
Scotland’s contribution to the EU, formerly averaging around ₤532
million every year- well over £100 for every man, woman and
child in the country - rose to £845 million in 2010 including
Scotland’s proportion of the UK’s IMF and direct aid towards the Euro
crisis, and is now somewhere in the region of
£1,300 million every year.
together with the appalling ongoing annual losses through the EU’s
destruction of most of the Scottish fishing industry and other factors,
the sum total is that, for Scotland with its population of five
millions, EU membership has been, and continues to be, the country’s
worst economic disaster for centuries.
economic haemorrhage has to stop.
so-called “Constitution for Europe” in its resurrected form of the
Lisbon Treaty, is simply a means of accelerating the already
excessive one-way transfer of power to the centre in Brussels. In
particular, we must have no truck with the attempt contained in the
treaty to “Europeanise” all marine biological resources, which is
just the thin end of a wedge that will end in all marine resources,
including oil, gas and minerals, being annexed by Brussels.
especially crucial in the light of the powers over energy that
have been transferred to the EU by the treaty, and the forthcoming
annexation of Scotland’s national waters as EU waters, originally
from the end of 2012, but temporarily postponed due to fear of
Scotland’s prospective status of independence. Moreover, the positively
anti-democratic methods that have been adopted to push the Lisbon Treaty
through in the teeth of popular opposition all over Europe are a
regression to mediaeval standards of government.
Parliament (the so-called “European Parliament”) is far removed from
being a genuinely democratic institution. It is simply window-dressing,
a spurious and unsuccessful attempt to endow the EU with democratic
legitimacy. In terms of its geographical coverage, and of the scope of
its powers, it is neither European nor a parliament.
positively alarming to observe how fundamental democratic norms
that have been established over centuries, for example the separation of
powers, or the direct answerability of legislators to the people, have
been contemptuously thrown aside, above all through the Lisbon Treaty.
This lack of democratic accountability highlights the extreme
dangers inherent in the ongoing attempts to endow the EU – half of
Europe - with a military capacity unnecessarily duplicating NATO,
undermining the OSCE, and attempting to rival the United States.
with horror the massive and widespread corruption up to the
highest levels of the EU apparatus in Brussels, where the auditors have
refused to sign the accounts for more than a decade and a half, as well
as the brutal measures of repression that have been taken against
individual whistleblowers who have dared to expose these malpractices or
just to criticise the system.
little wonder, then, that all over continental Europe there is a growing
movement demanding drastic revision, not just of the European Union, but
of the entire European Idea in the light of ongoing globalisation and
the development of a comprehensive system of global governance. Europe
is no longer economically and politically besieged amidst a hostile
world. The EU, conceived for a world that no longer exists, still has
some relevance as a transitional instrument until the effects of the
Second World War and the Communist system have been finally overcome,
but in its present form it cannot be regarded as a permanent feature of
the European political landscape.
Commission’s 28 members are at least twice as many as required to do the
job. Most of them are underemployed, and have to justify their enormous
salaries by finding more and more unnecessary functions to
“Europeanise”. One experienced Austrian MEP put it thus: “The
Commission believes that it is the future government of the United
States of Europe. I hope that never gets off the ground. All we need
is a confederation, a Confederated States of Europe that doesn’t need a
government but a slimmed down administrative apparatus in Brussels. And
Scotland’s European Policy
national interests are those of an offshore island, and do not
necessarily coincide with those of landlocked Central and Eastern
Europe. The negligible voting power of a nation of 5 millions within
a Union of 500 millions would throw Scotland into a situation ten times
worse than the one it is presently trying to escape within the UK.
The Scottish representatives would be massively outvoted on any issue
that did not suit the main players. There is no point in freeing
ourselves from London-centred one-size-fits-all policies only to subject
ourselves to even more unsuitable remote impositions on a ten times
greater European scale.
Furthermore, we cannot envisage how the interests of landlocked Central
European states, or those of climatically very different Southern
Europe, can be reconciled with the dissimilar interests of countries on
the sub arctic seaboard of the north-eastern Atlantic within a system
that decrees one set of regulations to govern all of them.
reiterate our commitment to cooperation in Europe, and to the European
ideals, but at the same time let no one be in any doubt of our
determination that Scotland’s rights and interests are going to be
upheld in the process.
problems are likely to arise with Scottish membership of the four
major European institutions, which are all-European in membership
and inter-governmental in operation. Their parliaments have genuine
decision making powers, and have considerably more democratic legitimacy
in that they consist of delegated members of national parliaments who
report back to, and can be held answerable by, their national
half-European EU, on the other hand, is not only a totally
unacceptable economic drain on Scotland, but is also an ideological
construct with inherent weaknesses that are positively dangerous in
terms of political and economic stability. This is particularly true of
certain provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Its lack of the normal checks
and balances, and the absence of a genuinely democratic decision making
structure, make it simply too dangerous to consider.
European Union is a Central European concept designed for Central
European conditions – like its Euro currency that has been such a
disaster on the geographical periphery of the continent – although it
remains a stable currency in its central heartland. EU membership
implies a readiness to adopt the Euro in due course, and to participate
in military operations abroad under EU command. Whether that would be
accepted in Scotland is doubtful.
economic advantages of the European Union can be realised through
Scottish membership of the European Free Trade Association
(EFTA), which opens the door to the 31-member European Economic Area
(EEA), including all of the EU member countries. The EFTA members’ free
access to the EU Single Market (the EEA) is considerably enhanced by
EFTA’s own free trade agreements with most of the world, including the
other half of Europe that is not in the EU.
provides open access to the Single European Market as well as the
European research and development facilities, allows participation in
drafting relevant EU legislation, leaves Scotland its own fishing and
agriculture policies and more, and provides all the economic benefits
that Scotland needs.
is in effect the Common Market continuing, which is the limit to what
was approved by the Scottish voters in the 1975 referendum. No degree of
European integration beyond this has democratic legitimacy in Scotland.
propaganda myth has to be dispelled here. It is untrue that the
EFTA side of the EEA has to accept all the EU economic legislation as it
stands without consultation. Under Articles 99 to 101 of the 1974 EEA
Agreement the EFTA members of the EEA have exactly the same rights as
its EU members as regards participation in the drafting of economic
legislation. This includes alterations to existing EU regulations, and
membership of relevant EU Commission committees.
membership would allow the unhindered restoration of the Scottish
fishing industry and other wealth creators that are presently being
strangled by EU ideology. It would free Scottish agriculture from
the Brussels straitjacket. This move alone could result in a substantial
rejuvenation of the Scottish economy.
A move to
the EFTA side of the EEA, from Scotland’s present part-membership of the
EU/EEA side, would cause no disruption whatever to Scotland’s
economic links with Europe, the existing ones of which would
continue unchanged. No action would be required to leave the EU side of
the EEA – since Scotland as such has never been
a member of the EU it only needs to refrain from applying to join.
for Scotland are clear: For the moment at least, we cannot afford to
stay entirely outside the European structures, and the last thing we
need is barriers of any kind, but Scotland’s special geo-economic
situation, and the resulting divergence of interests from those of
landlocked continental countries, dictates an individual approach to
integration in Europe.
situation may resolve itself in time. One topic now being discussed in
informed circles all over Europe is the possibility of differential
integration, rather than the likes of the monolithic EU structure.
This would mean that membership terms would be tailored to the specific
needs of individual countries. How far this is practicable, and likely
to be realised, remains to be seen. The EEA is, however, a first step
in this direction.
development of interest to Scotland is the Common European Economic
Space that was agreed in principle with Russia in 2003 as part of a
larger package of four “spaces”. Although still not finalised, it could
include Russia, the EU and EEA countries, and probably certain others.
The Russians, a major European people, have no intention of joining the
EU, but they insist on a level economic playing field in Europe. This
is entirely in accord with Scotland’s position.
longer term these developments could free the core EU members in Central
Europe to realise a closer degree of union like the EU among themselves,
leaving those in an outer circle to adopt a looser form of integration
more suited to their special needs.
initiatives and developments are being kept under close scrutiny, but a
current policy for Scotland in Europe after resumption of independence
must be based on existing reality rather than a hypothetical future
situation. That reality dictates the following:
Scottish membership of all of the major intergovernmental European
organisations: Council of Europe (CoE); United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); and North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Immediate Scottish membership of the European Free Trade Association
(EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA).
Scottish membership of the Nordic Council and the development
of close cooperation with Scotland’s Scandinavian neighbours,
especially as regards the management of the north-east Atlantic.
Possible Scottish membership of other specialised European
organisations (the European Space Agency, CERN, etc.) to be a matter
of current policy.
application to join the European Union (EU), which in its
present form is inimical to Scottish interests. In view of the EU’s
supranational objectives, and the drastic loss of national
sovereignty they would involve, any such move would require the
approval of the Scottish people in a referendum.
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