Despite the economic troubles in the Eurozone, the European Union will continue to expand its membership in the coming years. A few weeks ago the people of Croatia voted by a margin of 2 to 1 to join the EU and so they are expected to become Member State number 28 next year.

The people of Iceland are still seemingly hesitant towards the EU and, with the credit rating agencies recently declaring Iceland's sovereign rating as safe "investment grade", support for accession may flatline. Nevertheless, negotiations are ongoing - and there's a chance that Iceland will create an EU29. And with Serbia gaining full candidate status, they too could be on course to join the club.
Whilst various countries from out-with the EU are lining up to seek entry, movements within the EU may well lead to an increase in Member States through a process of "internal enlargement". Scotland's referendum on independence will be held in the autumn of 2014 - and opinion polls show that support for independence is growing. An existing Member State dividing in two is unprecedented for the EU. However, the UK's legal mechanics are clear: Scotland and England united to form a single state by a treaty in 1707.

Should the people of Scotland democratically vote for their country's independence, two successor states will be formed: an independent Scotland and the remainder of the UK (rUK).

Opponents of Scottish independence resort to scare stories as regards Scotland's future role in the EU. Scotland, they say, will be a new accession state - and so will have to get in line behind Serbia. Even assuming all goes smoothly, they claim, the Spanish will veto Scotland's entry so as not to encourage nationalist movements in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia.

These stories have been torpedoed by the EU Commission and the Spanish government. In a written answer to a Catalan MEP, the Commission described both Scotland and rUK as "the parties concerned" in preparing for Scottish independence; no distinction was made between the two entities.

The statement speaks of the future relationship "between those parties and European Union partners" - again both parties described equally as "European Union partners".

Meanwhile, at a conference in London, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo stated "If the two parts of the United Kingdom are in agreement that [Scottish independence] is in accord with their constitutional arrangement, written or unwritten, Spain would have nothing to say, we would simply maintain that it does not affect us." Prospects of a Spanish veto seem to have been overstated.

The decision on Scottish independence is one for the people of Scotland to take. The European Treaties are founded on "principles of liberty [and] democracy" and it is inconceivable that the democratic will of Scotland's people would be thwarted by the EU. On the great many issues where Scotland and the rUK will continue to have shared concerns, our combined voices will be stronger than at present. On issues where priorities differ, votes will be cast accordingly.

Scotland is in the EU and will continue to be in the EU. Scotland can look forward to playing a fuller role - and the rest of the EU can look forward to our positive engagement as a normal nation, with the essential rights of representation which independence would automatically bring.

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