Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scotland, Kosovo and the European Union

Simon James in today's Financial Times throws out some interesting comparisons between Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence and a possible independent Scotland's role within the European Union.

I've mentioned before that within the European Union there is no precedent; what happens should a part of a member state decide to break away- does it automatically retain membership or would it have to apply as a completely new entity?

The SNP without any real evidence to back-up their argument reckons the former, a Brussels bigwig has said "no".

Anyway, that link with Kosovo.
Six nations within the EU are presently withholding recognition of the new "state"- Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, Greece and Belgium and have effectively vetoed a common EU stance on the issue. The first four countries are very sensitive of the secessionist pressures within their own borders and are not happy with the example that Kosovo could set for places like the Basque Country in Spain or Erdely in Romania.

In the event of a breakaway Scotland, there is no guarantee whatsover either in hard legal facts or in the event of having to rely on "realpolitik", that Scotland will simply dawdle into the EU as an independent nation. And,as the article points out, that uncertainty is important- 50% of Scotland's trade is with the EU and it makes the SNP's "Scotland in Europe" dream look somewhat presumptious.

Read the rest of the article here.


The Aberdonian said...

Reposte from George Kerevan the associate editor of the Scotsman and SNP UK Parliamentary candidate:-

O'Neill said...

Thanks for that.
Obviously there is no precedent within the EU for this and Mr Kerevan appears to be also implicitely agreeing that there are no relevant, existing EU laws to cover such a situation.

The one semi-official response from the EU on this question is not promising from a SNP poitnof view if, Scotland were to leave the UK as opposed to the UK breaking up into 4 separate parts:
Mr Kerevan seems to have based his case on the latter scenario.

Also, as has been proven in the case of Turkey, what may be the written down procedure comes a very poor second place in the EU to real-politik. There's been some slippage in the last couple of years, but Turkey, in many ways, is/was in a better position than the Central/Easst European states were when the EU gave them the first nod that they could begin the accession procedure. Even if Turkey were to fulfill all the requirements and thus meet the Eu standards can we really believe thta France and Germany will not find another spurious reason to prevent them from entering?

It is the lack of definite legal guidelnes and this real-politik ethos amongst all of the member states that undermines Kerevan's argument.

The Aberdonian said...

The problem is that we do not know. The general consensus is that if Belgium splits then Wallonia and Flanders will not be barred from becoming EU members. It would be idiocy to in effect throw out the "capital" of the EU out of the EU.

If Wallonia and Flanders were allowed in then it would set some sort of precedent. If the Spanish are prepared to block sepratist states from entering the EU then maybe they should have thought twice before allowing Slovenia and the Baltic States in.

At the end of the day much of the EU membership are originally sepratist states themselves going past half a millenia:-

Eire - from the UK
Netherlands - from Spain
Belgium - from the Netherlands
Luxemburg (dynastically) - from the Netherlands
Portugal - from Spain
Italy - partly from Austria
Sweden - from the Danish-controlled Kalmar Union
Finland - from Russia
Poland - from Russia, Germany and Austria
Czech Republic - from Austria
Slovakia - from Hungary and later Czechoslovakia
Hungary - from Austria-Hungary
Austria - Burgenland from Hungary post WWI and the whole country from Germany post WWII
Slovenia - from Austria and later Yugoslavia with parts gained from Italy after WWII
Romania - parts of Hungary
Malta - from UK rule/ till the 1960's there was a hot debate in Malta on whether Malta should become independent or become an integral part of the UK as opposed to a colony. Considering Malta's talent for producing many of London's post-war gangsters their decision to leave British rule was not totally lamented on our side.
Bulgaria - from Turkey
Baltic States - originally from Russia (post WWI) and later the USSR (post WWII)

Essentially the UK exists from the Treaty/Act of Union of 1707. Scottish independence would extinguish that Treaty unlike the 1801 union which was only partly extinguished.

The Aberdonian said...

Of course I forgot to add Cyprus to the list of sepratist states. From UK rule. EOKA was not country club.