If your only source of news was the mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking that the consensus in the EU regarding an independent Scotland was bleak. Spain would, we’re told endlessly, veto Scotland’s place in the EU out of hand, and so, allegedly, would France.
And when Scotland’s First Minister went to Brussels after the referendum vote to meet with EU officials in regards to Scotland’s membership, we were told that this bold act of outreach fell on deaf ears.
The language of the press was hostile bordering on sadistic. The First Minister, acting to secure the democratic will of the people of Scotland, was apparently “running out of friends” and had to “beg” Ireland to help us out.
The reality, readers will be astonished to hear, is somewhat different.
Newspapers like the Express, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, and the Sun revelled in what they claimed was the “humiliation”, the “rejection” and the “desperation” of Nicola Sturgeon as the EU’s “snub” delivered a “devastating blow” which “kills off” her “bid” for Scotland’s EU membership.
It’s no coincidence that those papers all backed a Leave vote in 2016, and a No vote in 2014. They all believe Scotland is British, and that the UK is their chosen polis. Therefore, there’s no inconsistency between them ridiculing Nicola Sturgeon and the 62% of Scots she speaks for in this regard, because from a UK context the majority of Scots is still a tiny and irrelevant minority of UK voters. Scots have to suck it up: “Leave won, we’re going out of Europe, get over it.”
But it does mean they have to ignore several facts that are inconvenient to their cackling delight in Scotland’s supposed failure.
Here, for example, is the First Minister on her trip, meeting the head honcho of the European Commission himself, Jean-Claude Juncker.
Margaritis Schinas is the chief spokesperson for the EU Commission.
And in Mr Juncker’s own words:
Here, the FM is meeting the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.
And an unnamed EU official told one of Belgium’s Francophone newspapers:
“Si les Ecossais se dépêchent, deviennent indépendants avant que le processus de séparation entre Londres et l’Union ne s’achève et déclarent être liés par l’acquis communautaire, ils pourraient rester dans l’UE sans difficultés en reprenant le statut du Royaume-Uni.”
(translation) If the Scots hurry, become independent before the separation process between London and the Union ends and declare their continued attachment to the community, they could stay in the EU without difficulty by taking the status of the UK.
It’s not just the European Parliament. A “senior Eurozone government official” was quoted by Buzzfeed News last week as saying “an independent Scotland would probably be granted a fast track to EU membership”. In fact, individual governments all around the EU have voiced their support for Scotland remaining in the community.
The First Minister met with Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group, which has 70 MEPs:
Mr Verhofstadt explained his perspective on Scotland remaining part of the EU in the event of independence.
“The Dual Kingdom of England and Wales”. An interesting turn of phrase?
Reuters reported on 24 June that:
‘The Scots have made clear that their place is in Europe and if Scotland gains its independence in the end and again joins the European Union, then that would not balance out the loss for Great Britain but I would warmly welcome the Scots in Europe’, Oppermann told reporters in Berlin.”
Is anyone else in Germany so welcoming to Scotland?
Scotland, N Ireland can stay in EU says Merkel ally
Scotland and even Northern Ireland would be welcome to remain members of the EU according to Manfred Weber, a top MEP and key ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Speaking to reporters on Friday morning, Mr Weber criticised the decision for Britain to leave but added: ‘On the Scottish level: to go the other way, it is up to them. Europe is open to new member states, that is totally clear. Those who want to stay are welcome in the European Union.'”
Mr Weber is the leader of the European People’s Party Group, the largest single group in the European Parliament, with 216 members. And he’s not alone among the German chancellor’s colleagues:
Scotland welcome to join EU, Merkel ally says
An independent Scotland would be welcome to join the European Union, a senior German lawmaker and ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel has said after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.
‘The EU will still consist of 28 member states, as I expect a new independence referendum in Scotland, which will then be successful,’ said ‘We should respond quickly to an application for admission from the EU-friendly country’, he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.”
John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland, said the Scottish Government’s timetable for European integration after a 2014 Yes vote was entirely feasible:
Enda Kenny is the Taoiseach of Ireland, and spoke for the First Minister at the European Summit after the EU referendum.
Micheál Martin is the leader of Fianna Fáil, the second largest party in the Republic of Ireland (operating a confidence-and-supply arrangement with Fine Gael).
“The issue of Scotland’s position has already been placed to the fore by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The future of Scotland within the UK is a matter for the people of Scotland. However the future of Scotland within the EU should it leave the UK is a matter which concerns all EU states.
I and my party believe that it would be unacceptable for Scotland to be treated as a normal candidate country should it seek to remain as a member of the EU. It currently implements all EU laws. It manifestly would not need to be reviewed for its standards of governance and ability to implement EU laws. It has a strong administration, a distinct legal system and an absolute commitment to European ideals.
Michael D. Higgins, the President of Ireland, spoke at the Scottish Parliament a few days after the European referendum.
The Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo expressly denied in 2012 that Spain would veto the membership of an independent Scotland:
“‘If in the UK both parties agree that this is consistent with their constitutional order, written or unwritten, Spain would have nothing to say, just that this does not affect us. No one would object to a consented independence of Scotland.’
He said the independence of Kosovo was different because it was based on a “unilateral decision” and admitted the Spanish position would have been different if it had been agreed between Belgrade and Pristina.”
This stance makes perfect sense, as Spain has welcomed the independence of several new countries – including ones that joined the European Union.
“When Kosovo declared independence from Serbia over four years ago, it was quickly recognised by most of the members of the European Union. However, five members – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain – refused to follow suit. This has led to suggestions that these countries may also refuse to accept Scottish independence and keep it out of the EU.
This is very unlikely, for a number of reasons. For a start, the problem in the case of Kosovo is not the issue of secession. It is the unilateral way in which it was done. If a territory becomes independent with the consent of all the parties concerned, there is little reason to believe that these countries will oppose the move.
The strongest evidence to support this view is their reaction to the independence of South Sudan, in July 2011. This occurred with the overt support of the Sudanese government, which was the first country in the world to recognise it.
Within hours, the European Union issued a joint statement congratulating the new state on its independence. There was not a murmur of dissent from any of the five countries to this act of collective recognition. Even at an individual level, there seems little to suggest that any of them would block Scotland’s membership of the European Union.”
The idea that Spain would veto a recently independent Scotland’s membership of the EU, yet not veto the recently independent Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Slovenia – to say nothing of EU candidates Macedonia and Montenegro – seems ludicrous, especially considering that the people of Scotland have already been EU members for decades.
“La sortie de la Grande-Bretagne doit être conduite et négociée sans délai afin de ne pas ouvrir une longue période d’incertitude dont nous ferions les frais. Dans le même temps, l’Union Européenne doit affirmer clairement qu’elle reste ouverte aux Ecossais et aux Irlandais du Nord s’ils venaient à s’en donner les moyens.
(translation) The departure of Great Britain should be conducted and negotiated without delay so as not to open a long period of uncertainty which would cost us. At the same time, the EU must make clear that it remains open to the Scots and Northern Irish if they were to provide the means.”
Jacek Saryusz-Wolski is the current Vice-President of the European People’s Party and former Vice-President of the European Parliament.
Here’s Robert Fico, the next President of the European Union, ensuring – according to the Scottish Daily Mail – that there can’t even be any discussions about Scotland retaining its EU membership while it’s still in the UK.
But on the other hand, here he is offering to preside over a successful bid for Scottish independence within the EU:
“Slovak leader promises help with velvet divorce
The European Union’s next president has offered to help broker the divorce between Scotland and the rest of the UK should voters elect to dissolve the Union over disagreement on Brexit.
Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia, who is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency on Monday, said his diplomats would help to negotiate an amicable separation modelled on the so-called velvet divorce that resulted in the break up of Czechoslovakia in 1993 if Scotland decides to leave the UK in order to stay in the EU.”
Lubomir Rehak is the Slovakian Ambassador to the UK, tweeting that in fact he was engaged in talks with Scottish Government ministers already:
Hans Schelling is Finance Minister of the Austrian government. This week he said:
The Daily Record also recently reported the Austrian government’s honorary consul John Clifford saying:
According to Channel 4 News reporter Alex Thomson, the Czech consul to the UK also gave his on-the-record backing to an independent Scotland in the EU a week ago:
The forces determined to keep Scotland in the UK at the expense of its membership of the EU are playing a classic abuser’s game. They’re trying to present the idea that the EU doesn’t care about Scotland, that they’ll either reject us despite being members for 40 years or implement horrendous austerity and punitive recriminations.
That’s a view not supported in Europe itself. As well as all the political examples in this article, a poll by YouGov Deutschland this week showed overwhelming public support across Europe for an independent Scotland’s EU membership, in every country polled.
The Unionist media and polity is trying to pretend that the EU will treat Scotland as horribly as the UK has. It’s a claim that so far is entirely at odds with the evidence.
A version of this article first appeared on A Wilderness Of Peace.