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As the Independence referendum debate gathers pace, the 'Project Fear' attacks by the UK Unionists are increasing in volume and frequency, but are being seen through by Scotland's voters as lacking any credibility. Can anyone seriously believe that Scotland, after more than 300 years of 'partnership' in the UK union, should expect to bear a share of debt but not be entitled to a fair share of assets jointly built up? Does anyone believe that Scotland's forty years of EU membership would be ignored, and that the other
EU Member States would wish to throw us out of the club, following a clear, legal and democratic Yes vote in September?
The fact that the process by which Scotland will become independent is based on a constitutional and democratic deal, the Edinburgh Agreement, signed by the UK and Scottish governments, is fully consistent with Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The EU is based upon core values, including respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
These same values are fully represented in the historic Edinburgh Agreement.
The Scottish Government has set out a clear and common-sense approach to the process, within the EU Treaties, by which Scotland can become a normal independent member State of the EU, as from the date of independence. Following a vote for independence in the referendum, the Scottish Government would immediately enter into negotiations with the UK Government. Both Governments would make the necessary contacts with all the other EU Member States. This would ensure that Scotland achieves a smooth and timely transition to independent EU membership, avoiding any disruption to the continuity of our current position inside the EU single market.
That continuity would be just as much in the interests of the rUK, all of the other Member States, and of EU citizens and enterprises located in Scotland.
Previous timescales for EU membership negotiation offer little guidance to Scotland given our longstanding participation in the EU. We will not be applying from outside. We already are in full compliance with all of the terms and conditions of EU membership. It might be added nevertheless that in the case of Austria negotiations for membership began in February 1993 and were completed in April 1994, whilst Sweden began negotiations in February 1993 and finished March 1994. Both of these countries were entering from out-with the Union, and both had significantly more complex negotiations to undertake than Scotland will, for example in areas such as agriculture.
Nevertheless, both managed to complete negotiations well within the 18 month timescale envisaged by the Scottish government.
Under devolution the Scottish Government has, and will continue to have, no direct influence over EU decisions. The UK Government supposedly speaks for the whole of the UK in EU-level negotiations but we know to our cost that Scotland's interests are not always well represented. Our fishing industry was considered 'expendable' in EU negotiations, by a UK Tory Government that Scotland did not vote for.
Becoming a normal Independent country will guarantee that we always get the Government that Scotland's voters want, and that Government will have the absolute right to properly represent the interest of this country in international bodies such as the EU. A Yes vote in September will silence the fear-mongers and start the process of building a better nation.