A quite extraordinary article in this morning’s Hootsman about how, post independence, Scotland would have to pay £8.4 billion (10 billion euros) to join the eurozone. My first reaction was, “Crikey! the Hootsman says this is an independent study-I’d better check it out. I then find out that the report was “commissioned for the commons library”. Surely a rather curious definition of “independent” (and there are a lot of those about!)
I’ve picked out some quotes:
“While the SNP argues that this only applies if Scotland were to join the euro, under current rules an independent Scotland seeking to apply for membership would have no choice but to belong to the beleaguered currency.”
On the cost, the report notes: “Were Scotland to join the euro, it is likely that it would become party to the European Stability Mechanism, providing funding guarantees in proportion to its capital share in the European Central Bank. Based on its present proposed size, this would amount to roughly 1.4 per cent of €700bn, or €9.8bn.”
“The report also raises the prospect that states in the EU, such as Spain, which are opposing independence movements in their own countries, may veto Scotland’s membership.
There has been some debate over whether Scotland would have an automatic right to accession to the EU.
The report, however, is clear that it would not.
It states: “Whatever the position under general international law, a decision on Scotland’s status within the European Union is likely to be a political one. “
The report also says it is likely Scotland would be a net contributor rather than receiving extra funds from the EU.
Last night, however, the report was dismissed by the SNP, which pointed out that the former Labour foreign secretary, the late Robin Cook, had said there would be no problem in an independent Scotland being accepted in the EU.
The party also said that the €9.8bn for the stability fund would only apply if Scotland dropped sterling and joined the euro.
“However, experts have recently warned that new member states to the EU are given no option but to join the euro.
A spokesman for the SNP said: “This is an ‘on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand’ paper by Westminster researchers, and the position on Scotland’s European Union membership has been crystal clear for 20 years.
“Scotland is already an integral part of the EU – and as an independent state will be in exactly the same position as the rest of the UK as a successor state.”
Reading the report made me consider a few points. Firstly it is unlikely that Scotland will be independent after the planned referendum. However unlikely that is however, pales into insignificance when the likelihood of the euro or the indeed the EU surviving in their present forms until 2014 is given some thought.
There are obviously some considerations to be made and some serious thinking to be done about an independent Scotland’s future relationship with the EU following the albeit remote possibility of independence.
If only Scotland had Norway’s huge oil reserves, relatively small population and a tourism industry based on its rugged scenery then maybe we could perhaps have thoughts of being one of the most prosperous countries in Europe and be quite happy outside of the whole sorry mess(es).
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