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Scottish Independence and Scotland's Future
Scotland in Europe
Scottish independence: EU financial benefit outlined

An article from the Scotsman and comments by Dr James Wilkie


SCOTLAND would benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds of extra funds with thousands more jobs created if it was an independent member of the European Union, Nicola Sturgeon claimed in a keynote speech last night.

The deputy SNP leader used a speech in Edinburgh to claim that if Scotland was represented as an independent nation in the EU it would have received £850 million in Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding, which she said would have supported an extra 2,500 jobs.

Ms Sturgeon said the CAP funding would increase economic output by £1 billion from 2014 to 2020.

She went on to claim that Scotland had been short-changed by decisions at Westminster, which she said had left Scots with the lowest farm payments in the EU.

“As an independent country we would have benefited from an additional £850m in farm payments from Europe, estimated to support an additional 2,500 jobs in our local communities over the period 2014 to 2020,” she said.

Speaking at the first in a series of lectures organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the David Hume Institute in the run-up to the referendum, Ms Sturgeon insisted that an independent Scotland would not be blocked from joining the EU in the aftermath of a Yes vote.

The SNP government claims the country would remain inside the EU after a Yes vote and renegotiate its membership from within.

Ms Sturgeon also warned that Scots wanting to remain in the EU could be outvoted by the rest of the UK due to David

Cameron’s plans to stage a referendum on Europe if the Tories win the next general election.

She said: “The EU is not in the business of throwing out its citizens, of ignoring democratic processes, of reducing co-operation and cutting the size of the EU.

“The only risk to Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU is the in/out referendum that the Prime Minister has pledged to hold by 2017.

“Before that we know he wants to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union. But we don’t know precisely what he wants to renegotiate.

“We don’t know if he will recommend withdrawal if those renegotiation talks fail. And we obviously don’t know what the result of any referendum on Europe might be.

“It is perfectly possible that a majority of people in Scotland would vote to stay in the EU but that a majority elsewhere in the UK would vote to come out.”

However, a spokesman from the Better Together campaign accused Ms Sturgeon of promoting “scare stories” about the UK’s future EU membership.

The UK government’s Scotland Office last night issued a statement that suggested an independent Scotland would not immediately receive the same financial benefits as existing EU member states.

A Scotland Office spokesman said: “It cannot be taken for granted that an independent Scottish state would be able to negotiate with all 28 other member states to secure the same terms that we hold as part of the UK.”

Ms Sturgeon went on to accept that this year’s referendum could be the only one ever held. She said: “What worries me is that if we don’t take this opportunity we might never get it again.”

Comments by Dr. James Wilkie

I am afraid that Nicola has a mental hangup on the EU, and no amount of reasoned argument is going to shift her from her fixed position.

The first question that has to be answered is: should Scotland be in the EU in the first place, and if so why. How would membership benefit Scotland? The SNP has never yet come up with an answer to this.

You don't join an international organisation just because it is there; there has to be a reason for the step, and the balance between advantages and disadvantages has to come out by a large margin on the advantage side to justify the expense and complications involved.

This pie-in-the-sky reference to one hoped-for advantage that is in fact completely illusory (as several commentators have pointed out, the EU budget is fixed at its present level until 2020) is a fair indication that the SNP cannot come up with a single concrete reason why Scotland should seek EU membership at all.

Even if the CAP subsidies to Scottish farmers Ms. Sturgeon claims were to be realised, they would still be no more than a fraction of our own money being returned to us. As presently a net contributor to the EU it would be much more economic to pay them ourselves rather than sending the money on a tour to Brussels and with luck getting a fraction of it back.

The subregional EU is not European in scope. It represents only half of Europe, despite its unjustified hijacking of the title. The other four major European institutions, with up to 57 member states each, are all-European in scope, with genuinely all-European parliaments.

Most people are unaware of how far the EU has been rendered redundant by globalisation and global governance. For example, recent research has revealed that some 80% of the EU's economic activity is now downstream of the global organisations where the policy decisions are now taken - the EU can only pass them on disguised as its own policy. It is the EU itself that is governed by "fax diplomacy" on policies that it has no power to alter.

All the EU and EFTA states are members of these global institutions like the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) or the all-important World Trade Organisation (WTO), etc. The difference is that the likes of Norway, Iceland or even tiny Liechtenstein have a full say in the formulation of economic policy, whereas the EU member states are forbidden to put forward their own cases under the EU "common policies" regulation and are represented by the EU Commission.

Fact is that, at the upstream decision making level, Norway and Iceland have more economic clout than any EU member state, and just as much as the EU itself. And still there are people who distort facts to disparage EFTA/EEA membership for Scotland. As I have stated elsewhere, they need their heads felt.

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