The EU Referendum and Scotland.

Graham Charles Lear
3 min readDec 31, 2019

If Scotland doesn’t want the UK, does the EU want Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland will be at the “centre of international attention” in 2020.

In the 2016 EU Referendum, Scotland voted by 62.0% to 38.0% to remain in the European Union. This was the highest percentage of any of the 12 regions designated by the Electoral Commission in its official results. It was even higher than the London region, which polled 59.9% for Remain, and with the total number of votes cast in London alone being 41% higher than those cast in Scotland.

Some basic facts about the EU Referendum and Scotland

  1. The total Scottish vote (Remain and Leave) represents only 8% of the votes cast in the Referendum

2. 1,018,322 Scots voted to leave, 1,661,191 to remain

3. The number of Scottish Remain voters was less than the number of Leave voters in five other UK regions

4. Scottish voters were voting as part of a national, UK-wide vote

5. Scotland was one of only three regions of the 12 UK regions to vote to remain

The SNP and the EU

An integral part of the SNP’s campaign for an independent Scotland is that Scotland will rejoin the EU.

Scotland must be an independent country before the EU can even start talks about possible membership

If the EU did otherwise it would be interfering directly in the politics of another country (the United Kingdom)

Nonetheless, the EU has done just that, holding meetings with SNP politicians

3. Could an independent Scotland join the EU, and by when?

Scotland might be able to join — eventually — provided it meets the EU’s onerous conditions for membership

It took the last country to join the EU (Croatia) 12 years of talks to do it

Croatia became an EU member state 21 years after it was recognised by the EU as an independent country

What does the EU require before Scotland could even be considered as a potential member state?

The SNP must secure another independence referendum, to replace the “once in a lifetime vote” of 2014

The referendum must be sanctioned by the UK government, and the SNP must win it

Scotland must then begin the process of separating from the rest of the United Kingdom

It must have separate borders and a separate economy with its own currency

Once complete, Scotland must seek EU and international recognition as an independent country

At this point, the EU will able to add Scotland to the list of countries which are already in the queue for membership: Turkey, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. These are the officially-recognised countries. In addition, Kosovo and Bosnia & Herzegovina are recognised by the EU as potential candidates for membership.

Strategically and politically, the Balkan countries are important to the EU in its enlargement plans.

What happens next?

Before an independent Scotland could engage in any substantive talks with the EU, all 27 existing member states would have to approve. This is one of the areas of EU policy where each member state still has an absolute veto.

If just one of the member states objects to the idea, the EU Council (of the leaders of all member states) would instruct the EU Commission (responsible for EU enlargement) either not to proceed, or only to hold informal talks.

Currently, the EU Council is holding up discussions with some of the countries which are already on the official list.

The secession question

One of the big issues for Scotland is the problems that some EU member countries already have with their own secessionist movements.

The most obvious example is Spain and its Catalonian separatist movement. Generally unreported in the British media, this is still a burning issue in the Iberian peninsula. There are numerous other secessionist movements across the EU, and none of the governments of the member states involved wishes to give hope to the proponents of these causes.

Finally, what are the other hurdles for Scotland?

Aside from political considerations, and if an independent Scotland were somehow to navigate these, there are some basic conditions for EU membership. As things stand, Scotland is not even close to fulfilling some of these criteria.

To do so would mean substantial cuts in the Scottish Parliament’s economic plans, affecting the majority of the Scottish people.

[ Sources: EU Commission | SNP ]

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.