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Spain warns Scotland EU membership not guaranteed

Source: Bloomberg - Thu 25th Oct 2012
Spain warns Scotland EU membership not guaranteed

The Scottish parliament has rejected claims that the country will be required to formally apply to join the EU in the event that a referendum votes to split from Britain.

The statement came in response to comments from Spain that EU membership was not automatically guaranteed.

Earlier this week Spain's Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said how an independent Scotland would have to pass through the same process as any other country. The semi-autonomous administration in Edinburgh, which is campaigning to break from Britain, has repeatedly claimed that Scotland would automatically retain EU membership.

However, there are obviously doubts in certain quarters, with a Minister letting slip that Scotland was taking legal advice on the matter.

"Scotland is part of the territory of the EU and the people of Scotland are citizens of the EU – there is no provision for either of these circumstances to change upon independence," a government spokesman said in an email. "Scotland will inherit exactly the same international treaty rights and obligations as the rest of the U.K., as equal successor states."

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond agreed this month to hold a referendum on independence scheduled for 2014. With the debate so far mainly focused on the economics of Scotland going it alone, polls show voters are roughly two-to-one in favor of staying in Britain.

The Spanish government meanwhile is facing its own constitutional challenge as Catalan leader Artur Mas pushes for greater autonomy. The region will hold elections Nov. 25.

Scotland "would have to get in line and secure unanimous support," Garcia-Margallo told the Spanish Senate in Madrid. It would have to wait before being granted membership, he said.

Comment on this Story

(contd) Constitutionally the UK is a union between the former England (of which Wales was/is a part) and the former Scotland; Ireland was 'annexed' by the new UK entity later and still later part of Ireland broke away to form what is now the Republic of Ireland, with Northern Ireland remaining a part of the UK. If Scotland becomes 'independent' (it already is independent in reality, but passing on) what is being done in constitutional terms is the dissolution of the UK. The remaining parts of what was the UK (England, incorporating Wales, plus Northern Ireland) would no longer be the 'UK', but just as much a new country as Scotland would be. If Scotland would have to re-apply for membership of the EU, then I think England/Wales/NI would too, on the (debatable) assumption that England (at least) would even wish to! ;) This might just be the excuse some of our English friends might use to simply cease to be a member of the EU ;) Clarification of EU law is badly-needed.
Bill Cameron - Wed, 21st Nov 2012
Whilst I am Scottish I am deeply opposed to the notion of Scotland separating itself from the rest of the UK, I am also British and want to remain that way. However, I also think the remarks made by Spain in relation to that issue and trying to equate it with the potential 'independence' of Catalonia/Catalunya from Spain betray ignorance and a misunderstanding (perhaps deliberate) of the constitutional make-up of the UK; it is NOT comparable with Spain. Unfortunately EU law seems to make no provision for internal divisions taking place within a member state so it is not possible to look at EU law either way to decide what might happen. It is certainly very different to what happened with the former Czechoslovakia, which split into two prior to joining the EU with the two now separate countries, The Czech Republic and Slovakia, negotiating in their own names their memberships of the EU. - cont in next message (1000 chat limit intervenes)
Bill Cameron - Wed, 21st Nov 2012
Neither will be able to remain in the EU . They would have to re-apply. All their citizens could theoretically be deported back to their 'new' country.
Gus-lopez - Wed, 21st Nov 2012
I can understand both Catalunya and Scotland having an enormous sense of regional pride and wishing to protect their identities and have "a bigger say" in their Gov't etc... but surely this can be done without Independence ? If for no other reason, than to remain as a part of a wider EU community ? I fully expect that if / when both communities come to a referendum on the issue that they will both vote to shun independence.
Mr Grumpy - Sat, 27th Oct 2012
An interesting point - but what about Expats living in Catalonia ? If Catalonia is awarded Independence and therefore leaves the EU, where will that leavethe resedential status of EU Citizens wishing to continue living here ?
Tyler - Fri, 26th Oct 2012
I can't see the EHIC card being too much of an issue : Holidaymakers should not really use this in place of travel insurance and it is not applicable to those living here permanently. What IS interesting is how Scots would be affected by EU residency laws in the short term if they had to re-apply for EU membership.
Tumbit - Admin - Fri, 26th Oct 2012
I assume this means that it can not be assumed that the EHIC card will be valid in it's current state for Scots in the event of an Independent Scotland being voted for in a referendum ? This may have serious implications for Scots living and Holidaying in Spain !!
Peter Harrison - Thu, 25th Oct 2012

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