Thursday, March 12, 2009

Debunking some Wales Cant

I think I’m going to have fun with this website.
In the first deconstruction of what will, undoubtedly, be a series:
Myth #7: Wales would be kicked out of the European Union.

Myth Busted: It has been officially confirmed that Wales, if independent, would remain within the European Union. Former Secretary General of the European Commission confirmed this, when discussing the case of Scotland:

"There is no precedent and no provision for the expulsion of a member state, therefore Scottish independence would create two new member states out of one. They would have equal status with each other and with other member states.
The remainder of the United Kingdom would not be in a more powerful position than Scotland…Anyone attacking the claim in respect of one country is attacking the claim in respect of the other. It is not possible to divide the cases." 2

Also, under the principles of the Vienna Convention on the Law of International Treaties, Wales would remain a part of the European Union, as would the other countries of the UK. The Convention states that an international agreement still applies to newly independent countries when a signatory state is broken-up.
1 Key Facts and Figures about Europe and the European Union (Office for Official Publications of the European Union)
2 Taken from The Independence Book, Scotland in Today’s World.

OK, let’s indulge in a little bit of evidential rigour here:

1.It’s not been "officially confirmed" that Wales, or indeed Scotland will remain automatically a part of the European Union post-separation. There is no precedent, no guidelines to follow on the matter.

2.The "original" member and signatory state, ie United Kingdom, would obviously not be expelled post separation. Wales would however no longer be a part of that member or signatory state would it?
Would it have to reapply for membership to a body many of whose members have separatist worries of their own?
Nobody knows, there are no precedents nor guidelines in the matter.

3.Opinions have, nevertheless, been expressed on the subject in both directions.
For example;
Dr Joe Borg, EU Fisheries Commissioner:
Legally speaking, the continuation of the membership would remain with the rest of the UK - less Scotland. And, therefore, Scotland, as a newly independent state, would have to apply for membership.

My colleague across the North Channel has quite a few more professional opinions opposing the gist of the late Émile Noêl(neither very professional nor courteous for Plaid Cymru to omit his name)’s views.
But basically, the truth is that there are no precedents or guidelines in this matter.

So, Plaid Cymru haven’t done anything like "bursting the myth".
They’ve copy and pasted the SNP line.
And that line can’t be proven one way or the other because there are no, and I’ll say it again for the fourth time, precedents nor guidelines in this matter.

Update:

The impressive Welsh Political History site has more on the specific Vienna Convention on the Law of International Treaties claim here.

15 comments:

welshpoliticalhistory.com said...

Hello

I edit WelshPoliticalHistory.com, a website that analyses historical claims made in Welsh political debate. I also looked at the claim contained on the WalesCan.com website. You can see my analysis and conclusion here.

You'll see I also don't agree with the claim, however I think it's important to note that Plaid are talking about a situation in which the UK break up, so 2 and 3 in your list may not apply.

Best

Adam

Welsh Ramblings said...

Whatever the semantics of this debate, the reality is that the EU is an expansionist supra-national body. It does not want to lose territory. It would do everything it could to keep Wales in the EU when we become independent.

DG said...

The Vienna Convention on the Law of International Treaties, eh? That'll presumably be the 1978 one which the SNP tried to use and was completely roasted for by anyone with even an elementary understanding of international law?

Firstly, the UK is not party to it. In fact, only 19 states (at last check) are.

Secondly, Article 4 of said treaty makes it clear that any international organisation with membership rules is not expected to admit new members in this way.

Thirdly, it would be illegal under EU law since there is a cap on membership of the Union, which has already been reached.

DG said...

Welshramblings,

Whilst you are correct in what you say, you also neglect to consider that EU membership involves negotiation. Since Britain is given quite privileged treatment by the EU (more opt-outs than you can shake a stick at) it is most likely that a new state would not be able to gain such advantages. Indeed, they certainly wouldn't be in any position to bargain with the EU, as Alex Salmond seems to think an independent Scotland would be.

welshpoliticalhistory.com said...

Whatever the semantics of this debate, the reality is that the EU is an expansionist supra-national body. It does not want to lose territory.

The claim was that Wales was assured of EU membership by dint of the Vienna Convention. As DG points out, Article 4 makes it clear that the EU's own entry rules trump any of the Conventions provisions.

It would do everything it could to keep Wales in the EU when we become independent.

That presupposes that the EU would form a unanimous view on the matter. As my post points out, this is far from certain. Member States are likely to be mindful of the precedent any such decision would set for themselves. Spain in particular might have reasons for making things as tricky as possible.

sm753 said...

There is a precedent, actually.

In 1920 the UK was a Founder Member of the League of Nations. (And so were Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.)

In 1921 the Irish Free State left the UK. It was then no longer a member of the League of Nations, which it rejoined in 1923.

Precedent.

O'Neill said...

Whatever the semantics of this debate, the reality is that the EU is an expansionist supra-national body. It does not want to lose territory.

If that were the case then both the Ukraine and Turkey would be a shoo-in for future membership. they aren't, partly for economic, partly for political reasons.

It would do everything it could to keep Wales in the EU when we become independent.

The EU, as can be seen from the split reaction to Kosovo's declaration of independence last year, does not always speak with a unified voice. At least six countries in particular (Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and possibly Belgium and also the baltics), for fear of what signs it may deliver to elements within their own nations, may be reluctant to give either Wales or Scotland the green-light.

tony said...

>>may be reluctant to give either Wales or Scotland the green-light.<<

Dream on!

Anyhow there is a school of thought arising that it may well be in Scotland's interests to be outside of the EU. After all we have carried around one overwrought greedy nation to our south and helped pay for the occupation of part of another to our south west for as long. Why get involved in helping to subsidise a community where many of the nations have corruption as one of their good points, and it is a norm rather than an exception for politicians to accept backhanders?

Stonemason. said...

Welsh Ramblings wrote ... "when we become independent."

Dream on chum, you can only fool some of the people ..... very occasionally.

.

The Aberdonian said...

I have been debating this point with SM for a couple of weeks so to make a couple of points from that debate:

It seems odd to me that you can enter the EU by marraige but you cannot inherit by divorce.

For example when East Germany united with West Germany (and all the economic problems with it), East Germany or the new entity did not have to apply again for membership of the EC, NATO etc.

Bonn got round this by declaring that under the auspices of the BDR's constitution, the DDR was absorbed into the BDR and therefore the extended territory could automatically be EC and NATO territory as it was the BDR which had signed up to these agreements. The Germans were able to do this without reference to other members of these organisations beyond of course the Two+Four agreement with the Allied powers that agreed to unification.

Theoretically this could happen again if Romania was to reunite by absorbtion with Molodvoa which is an economic, corrupt basketcase with an ongoing civil war.

So essentially Scotland - the argument goes - would be kicked out of the EU whilst a country that under normal circumstances would find it difficult to be a member would get automatic entry with all the troubles it would bring. And without even having to consult with other EU members.

Brilliant!

Taking into account the Russian presence in the break-away Transdinister region and the fact that technically NATO would now be involved in the conflict through Romania's membership of NATO ----- with Russia having "peacekeepers" in Transdinister.

Marvellous

Concerning Kosovo, Kosovo committed UDI and this is the reason (technically anyway) why Spain, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia object to Kosovan independence. It is highly unlikely this would be the case if Scotland was to become independent that there would soldiers at the border etc.

The Spanish lets-get-Scotland theory is an interesting one. As I have posted here before, maybe it will be put the test soon over this Football Team GB malarky.

Both the Basques and the Catalans have their own football teams and have been banging on the door of FIFA to get in citing Scotland etc as a precedent.

Surely if the Spanish wanted to get Scotland then this would be an excellent opportunity with the apparent emergence of Team GB to force a union of the four home nations into one football association.

The Spanish will have slammed the door in the face of the Basques and Catalans and shown Scotland it means business by fighting against the cause of soccer sepratism!

tony said...

Lol!

O'Neill said...

It seems odd to me that you can enter the EU by marraige but you cannot inherit by divorce.

Realpolitik rather than following any setdown rules or precedence. Germany had weight within the EU in 1990 to dictate its eastern part being integrated into the EU; the other countries of the old Soviet bloc didn't have that weight and had to apply in the old traditional way.

But that's by-the-by, what Plaid Cymru are claiming is that they've had official confirmation that an independent Wales would not have to apply for membership; the fact that we're having a debate at all proves that that claim is patently nonsense.

Anonymous said...

The Unionists are clutching at straws....you've had your day.

rag doll said...

"It’s not been "officially confirmed" that Wales, or indeed Scotland will remain automatically a part of the European Union post-separation. There is no precedent, no guidelines to follow on the matter. "

Yes, there is: Greenland.

O'Neill said...

The Greenland example is only a precedent if:

1. It has split away from Denmark
2. It has asked to remain part of the EU.