Independent Scotland will gain automatic entry to Europe, says top EC expert

Graham Avery

An independent Scotland will continue to be a member of the European Union (EU) and will not have to re-apply according to Graham Avery, Honorary Director-General of the European Commission and Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

Mr Avery, one of the UK’s most experienced academic authorities on European affairs, has provided written evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee at Westminster. In it he states: “Scotland’s five million people, having been members of the EU for 40 years, have acquired rights as European citizens.

“For practical and political reasons they could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission.”

The report goes on to cite other EU states as parallels saying: “The point can be illustrated by considering another example: if a break-up of Belgium were agreed between Wallonia and Flanders, it is inconceivable that other EU members would require 11 million people to leave the EU and then reapply for membership.”

Avery’s submission claims that precedents have been set regarding changing entry criteria in special circumstances saying: “As in the case of German reunification, the EU would adopt a simplified procedure under which the Commission would be asked to conduct exploratory talks with Edinburgh, London and other capitals, and submit proposals. Although an intergovernmental conference would be needed, it would not be of the kind that handles accession negotiations with non-member countries.”

The findings were welcomed by Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland who said: “This is an extremely significant and important contribution from an eminent and vastly-experienced European policy adviser.

‘People in Scotland should be reassured that an independent Scotland will remain a member of the European Union.”

Political Wrangle

The report follows calls from Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie for first minister Alex Salmond to clarify an independent Scotland’s EU membership. He said “The SNP have been guessing that Scotland would continue in the European Union on the same terms. But Scotland deserves facts, not more guesswork.

“If the SNP is wrong the consequences could be severe – including being forced to join the Euro, accept Schengen and lose the rebate.”

Rennie went on to highlight the possibility that Spain may seek to block Scotland’s membership. He added: “If the Spanish veto an independent Scotland’s smooth transition to the EU in 2015 it will be too late for Scotland to turn back. We simply can’t wait until 2015 for a Spanish veto; we need to know before the referendum.”

The Liberal Democrat leader’s statement had been preceded by a stormy First Minister’s Questions where Rennie backed Labour leader Johann Lamont’s proposal for an independent judicial review into whether Salmond had lied over taking legal advice on an independent Scotland joining the European Union.

However, former Labour first minister Henry Mcleish poured scorn on such a review claiming that the Labour leader had her priorities wrong. He said: “I think our energy, our focus could be used in better ways because at the end of the day this is unlikely to happen. There are far more important areas where Labour could win many converts and score political goals.”

Speaking on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme Mcleish also claimed that while Salmond had mishandled the affair he did not think that the first minister had lied. He said: “I don’t think he’s misled. But he hasn’t handled the situation well.”

Original here

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Scottish independence: Yes Scotland launch top team

Yes Scotland, the principle campaign group for a yes vote at the independence referendum, has announced five new executive directors.

The organisation’s chief executive Blair Jenkins OBE revealed that Jacqueline Caldwell, Susan Stewart, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Stan Blackley and Ian Dommett would make up the team.

Jacqueline Caldwell was previously a business manager for the RBS group and she becomes the director of operations. Of her new role she said: “’I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to this historic campaign and to play my part in helping to shape the future of Scotland.”

New director of communications, Susan Stewart, is a former senior diplomat who has been director of corporate communications at Glasgow University for the last seven years.

Shirley-Anne Somerville was a SNP MSP in the Lothians for four years until she lost her seat at the 2011 Holyrood elections. Since then she has been working as a strategist for the party and she will be the director of communities. Stan Blackley, ex-chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, will be Ms Somervile’s deputy.

The director of marketing will be Ian Dommett who has a background in the area including playing a key role in devising and delivering the marketing strategy that helped return the SNP government to Holyrood with an overall majority last year.

Mr Jenkins insisted that the five new appointments provided Yes Scotland with the strongest possible team. He said: “I said when I took on this role that I wanted a team of the highest calibre to match such an important and historic event in Scotland’s future direction. I can say with certainty that with these appointments this goal has been achieved.

“I am thrilled and delighted to welcome aboard Jacqui, Susan, Shirley-Anne, Ian and Stan, marking another major step in building the country’s largest ever community-based campaign.

“Each one of them has a proven track record in his or her field of expertise and I am confident that with their input and commitment we can deliver a Yes vote in 2014.”

The announcement comes as the group prepares to participate in the first national march and rally for independence on 22 September. The independently organised event aims to give a platform to voices from across the political and social spectrum that back a yes vote in the independence referendum. Organisers plan to hold similar events in September 2013 and 2014 in the run up to the vote.

The inaugural event which will take place in Edinburgh will feature speakers such as first minister Alex Salmond, Green party leader Patrick Harvie MSP and a host of current and former MSP’s including Margo MacDonald, Dennis Canavan and Colin Fox.

Co-organiser Jeff Duncan was keen to stress that the rally will be a non-partisan affair. He said: “The event will bring together people from all political parties including the SNP, Greens, SSP, Labour and even some Liberal and Conservative voters whose views are not catered for within those parties.”

The rally and march follows a recent campaign weekend by the Better Together group, which is campaigning for a no vote, which held a number of smaller events in towns and cities throughout Scotland.

Original article here – http://www.scottishtimes.com/scottish_independence_yes_scotland_launch_top_team