EU leaders, Ireland and academics boost Scotland’s EU relationship hopes


Press on mainland Europe report widespread sympathy for Scotland’s right to stay

SCOTLAND’S GROWING presence on the European stage has received support from EU leaders and the Irish Government, while academic experts have confirmed it is possible for Scotland to stay in the European Union. 

Media across Europe reported on First Minister’s Nicola Sturgeon official meetings with the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

Juncker, in response to the Scottish referendum result, said: “Scotland won the right to be heard in Brussels, so I will listen carefully to what the first minister will tell me.”

The meetings coincided with acts of solidarity from the leader of the Irish government Enda Kenny, who spoke on behalf of Scotland at the meeting of Europe’s 27 leaders in Brussels, and in a speech from Irish President Michael D. Higgins to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.  

Kenny conferred the view of the Scottish Government that “Scotland had a very strong belief that they should not be dragged out of the European Union having voted to stay” to the senior council of European leaders. 

Meanwhile at the Scottish Parliament, experts in European law and politics gave credence to the option that Scotland can maintain its position within the EU – if the political will can be found. 

Professor Sir David Edward, chair of the Europa Institute, and former judge of the European Court of Justice; Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, University of London; Dr Kirsty Hughes, Associate Fellow, Friends of Europe, Brussels; and Professor Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh all considered options that would maintain Scotland’s relations with the EU in an evidence session this morning [Thursday 30 June].

Douglass-Scott said “legally, there are precedents” for different territorial arrangements to be made in extraordinary circumstances – such as with Denmark-Greenland or the unification of Germany. 

Hughes added that such a scenario would raise a “complex, quite technical and highly political discussion” over issues such as the single market and freedom of movement, with the outcomes varying depending on responses in London and Brussels. 

Reporters have also identified widespread sympathy for Scotland’s position in Europe. Journalist Alberto Nardelli, who has been speaking to officials and diplomats, said: “There is a lot of goodwill towards Scotland from both institutions & EU governments.”

The Belgium newspaper La Libre Belgique, one of the major papers in Brussel’s diplomatic heartland, reported today [Thursday 30 June] that Scotland would stay inside the EU as an independent country.

“If the Scots don’t waste time and gain their independence before Brexit becomes totally effective and then declare their continued attachment to the European Union they will be able to remain in the EU and assume the 28th seat vacated by the UK,” an EU official told the paper. 

A diplomat added: “So much the better if Scotland becomes independent. Like that we will remain 28 countries. I’ve been saying this for two years: the European Union will continue to exist but not the UK.”

While the Spanish Prime Minister has raised concerns over direct negotiations with Scotland, many other political groups have extended a hand of friendship to Scotland since the referendum result. 

Picture: CommonSpace

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