The implications of an independent Scotland continuing as a member of the European Union (EU) are to be examined in an inquiry launched today by the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee. Following the recent publication of ‘Scotland’s Future’ and ‘Scotland in the European Union’, the Committee’s inquiry aims to shine a light onto the issues relating to an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU.
During the inquiry, the Committee will examine Scotland in the EU. It will consider the potential handling of - and obstacles to - negotiations for EU membership, what the terms of membership might be, how Scotland would be represented in the EU institutions as well as the ways in which small Member States can influence decision making in the EU.
Convener of the European and External Relations Committee, Christina McKelvie MSP said:
“Our Committee has a remit to consider and report on issues relating to the European Union. We have had a long standing commitment to examining these in the context of the White Paper so all can benefit from the information and opinion.
“The White Paper makes proposals of crucial importance to the position of an independent Scotland in the international sphere, particularly in relation to the EU. As MSPs, we all have our own views on the question posed by the referendum. As a Committee, we will bring our combined knowledge and understanding of the EU institutions and policy making to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s proposals and ensure that a thorough and open debate is held on them.
“We will hear from expert witnesses so the people of Scotland can get the information and opinions they deserve ahead of being asked to cast their vote next September.”
Deputy Convener of the Committee, Hanzala Malik MSP said:
“As a Scottish Parliament Committee, it is our job to ask questions, to probe both facts and opinion in relation to Government policies. The evidence we will take during this inquiry will play a vital role in that process.
“We look forward to hearing from a range of experts in the coming months but more than this, we want to hear from people in Scotland on how they think these decisions could impact on them.”
The inquiry launched today will examine the Scottish Government’s proposals for an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union as set out in “Scotland’s Future” and “Scotland in the European Union”. Evidence sessions will be in public and broadcast live on the Scottish Parliament’s website and will covers three main strands:
1. Scotland in the EU
The White Paper states that the “Scottish Government, supported by the overwhelming majority of Members of the Scottish Parliament, believes that membership of the EU is in the best interests of Scotland.” The Scottish Government further indicates that membership of the EU “provides the best international economic framework within which to optimise the economic and social gains of independence and tackle the global challenges that we face.”
2. The road to membership and Scotland’s representation in the EU
This theme relates to the process by which an independent Scotland would become a member of the European Union, the terms on which it would join and its representation in the EU following accession.
The Scottish Government has stated that its aim would be “to seek discussions with the UK, Member States and institutions of the EU to agree a process whereby a smooth transition to full EU membership can take place on the date on which Scotland becomes an independent State.”
3. Small states within the EU
This theme concerns the influence that small states can have in the European Union. It examines the Scottish Government’s view that there is a growing body of evidence that the smaller EU Member States “are relatively more successful in Council negotiations by achieving legislative outcomes closer to their preferred position than are the larger Member States.” It also covers the Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland’s membership of the European Union.
Evidence will be taken from mid-January through to March2014. Invitations will go out shortly to potential witnesses from academia, the legal profession, EU policy thinkers and institutions. All members of the public and organisations are asked to submit their views in writing to the call for evidence by 24 January 2014. Details are on the Committee’s webpages.