Sturgeon given big boost by German allies
Scotland’s future as part of the union of 28 states was given an endorsement at the weekend by German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Vice Chancellor to Angela Merkel. Gabriel told German newspaper Die Welt at the weekend, that the EU would certainly accept Scotland as a member in its own right after leaving the UK. "The EU can accept Scotland as a member in its own right if the country leaves the UK and wants to join EU." the minister stated.
The comments were made in addition to a guarantee in a speech at the SPD party conference that British expatriates living in the country should be given automatic citizenship. This is in contrast to the position of Wolfgang Schäuble the German finance minister who is said to be wary about new members in the light of his blueprint to reform the EU project. An eight page document leaked from the Bundersfinanzministerium and obtained by Handelsblatt a german business daily outlines the german position post-Brexit.
Called Deutsch-Strategie in Bezug auf brexit 'the german strategy regarding Brexit' it suggests that the UK as a whole could be an 'associated partner country'. However the internal ministry document goes on state that the E.U. should avoid making too many concessions that would give incentives for other states to follow suit. An association treaty spells out trading rules and other regulations between the European Union and a non-E.U. country, for instance whether import tariffs apply to certain goods or services. To deter other European countries from leaving the bloc, the European Union “should refrain from setting wrong incentives for other member states when renegotiating relations,” said the paper.
The difference in stance appears to be representative of the split in opinion between members of the German government as of how to proceed post-Brexit. This difference in view between the coalition partners and elected officials could alter the path forward for any action First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will take. Much of the positive reception for Scotland maintaining its EU membership have been from governments of countries keen to see a swift enforcement of Article 50.
This suggests that a deal to included Scotland could not be done unless Article 50 the legal procedure for commencing exit talks is activated. Additionally It strengthens the case that the Scottish government would need to win a second referendum in order to begin serious negotiations for entry into the EU.