Saturday 25 October 2014

Quinn claims independent Scotland would face EU axe

Published 26/08/2014 | 02:30

Alex Salmond (R) First Minister of Scotland and Alistair Darling (L) chairman of Better Together take part in a live television debate by the BBC in the Kelvingrove Art Galleries

Former government Minister Ruairi Quinn has intervened in the Scottish independence referendum - claiming that Scotland would be blocked from being part of the European Union if it votes to break away from the UK.

Mr Quinn said an independent Scotland would have to negotiate its re-entry with the European Commission, which it claimed would be a "lengthy process" and would involve the approval of all member states.

He added that it was likely Belgium and Spain would block the move because it could spark fears that it would embolden secessionist elements in both countries.

He also claimed Scotland would be obliged to take the euro, despite claims from the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) it would take the pound.

"If Scotland votes yes and wishes to join the EU it would have to negotiate with the Commission, which would be a lengthy process. It would then be up to each member state to ratify the admission of Scotland, normally through a vote of parliament and that has to be unanimous," Mr Quinn told the Irish Independent.

"I know that two, possibly more countries would be most reluctant to support Scotland's admission, the first being Spain and the second being Belgium.

"Such an admission would encourage the Catalonians and the Basque country to follow the Scottish road if it was successful."

Mr Quinn said his comments were based on the factual position but he stopped short of stating which side in the campaign he was on.

"If Scotland was to be admitted to the EU, however unlikely that might appear, it is a de-facto requirement that all new member states would have to, as soon as their economy meets the five criteria for economic and monetary union… it would automatically be obliged to join the Eurozone," he said.

"Britain had an opt-out. Denmark and Sweden put it to their people and they chose to reject joining the euro which they were legally entitled to do having been member states before the Maastricht treaty was signed."

He said his comments were issued by the UK's Better Together campaign.

Mr Quinn - a former president of the European Union's finance council - said his opinion was sought because he is on the executive of the Party of European Socialists as treasurer.

"I don't propose to make a comment for or against [Scottish independence] in any particular way, I was clarifying the record in terms of what the factual situation was," he said.

Mr Quinn's intervention comes despite many legal experts backing the Scottish government's assertion that it could negotiate separate EU membership within 18 months if voters say yes in the referendum on September 18.

The UK government has so far failed to ask the EU for an official advice on the situation - something only member states can do.

Meanwhile, Nobel-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz yesterday backed the pro-independence currency plans for an independent Scotland - just hours before a final TV showdown between Alex Salmond, the leader of the pro-independence SNP and Alistair Darling, the leader of the anti-independence "Better Together" campaign.

He said the main UK parties were "for the most part" bluffing when they ruled out SNP calls for a post-independence currency union.

Irish Independent

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