The above is not a headline you are likely to see anywhere today. Instead we are treated to almost blanket coverage of Barroso’s assertion that Scottish membership of the EU would be very difficult, if not impossible. Which merely confirms that most of our print journalists are just as biased and ignorant as their fellow journalists in the BBC. For even a moment’s reflection on Barroso’s rather weird assertion would expose it for the partisan scaremongering that it is.
The Montenegro precedent
It is interesting that Barroso chose to talk, unchallenged, about the independence of Kosovo and Spain’s continued refusal to recognize this independence. However a much more relevant precedent is Montenegro, which unlike Kosovo, attained independence in almost exactly the same way as Scotland will, if there is a Yes vote.
After the break-up of Yugoslavia, Montenegro remained in a union with Serbia. However there was a growing demand for independence which led to a referendum which was held on 21st May 2006. This resulted in a Yes vote and Montenegro declared its independence on 3rd June 2006. Just 13 days after the referendum! Which surely must have resulted in all sorts of international problems. Getting stuck in a dark room, left in a limbo etc. But no, in a matter of weeks the newly independent country of Montenegro had been recognized by most countries around the world. The key to this was that Serbia accepted the result of the referendum. Which meant that there were no grounds for any other country to refuse to recognize Montenegro’s independence. This included Spain, which recognized Montenegro on 16th June 2006. Just 13 days after Montenegro’s declaration of independence! Now I wonder why Barroso failed to mention this example, and more importantly why Andrew Marr and all the other distinguished BBC journalists also failed to mention this. Ignorance or bias!
So, given the precedent of Montenegro, it is pretty much inconceivable that Spain or any other country would refuse to recognize Scotland as an independent country. There would simply be no grounds for them to do so. If Spain really was terrified of setting a precedent, it would not have recognized Montenegro.
Montenegro and the EU
Shortly after its independence Montenegro formally applied to join the EU. This application was unanimously accepted by all the then member states at a meeting of the European Council. In the case of Montenegro the application process is quite lengthy as the country is starting from scratch and has the additional burden of adapting its economy and laws to a market economy. Nevertheless the application is progressing. In passing it should be pointed out that Montenegro has no currency of its own. It has decided to unilaterally use the Euro as its currency. A point which Britnats and Unionists should note. An independent Scotland could continue to use sterling if we chose to do so.
Scotland and the EU
Barroso’s intervention was to assert that Scotland was most unlikely to be accepted as a full member of the EU. Some, unspecified countries would object. Yet as we have seen all members states have unanimously welcomed Montenegro, another newly independent state, into the EU family. Somehow, according to Barroso, the EU would welcome Montenegro, but reject Scotland. This is just plain nonsense. Membership of the EU since 1993 is based on an applicant country meeting a set of criteria, known as the Copenhagen Criteria. The criteria are:
- the political criteria: stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities;
- the economic criteria: the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union;
- the institutional criteria: the ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.
The European Council identified the above criteria as the economic and political requirements candidate countries will need to fulfil to join the EU. It also concluded that accession could take place as soon as they were capable of fulfilling them.
These criteria are to be found on the European Commission’s own website, which can be found here. Perhaps Sr Barroso would be better employed reading and understanding his own Commission instead of going around trying to bully Scotland. In particular he should note the phrase – as soon as they were capable of fulfilling these criteria. For Scotland already meets all the criteria, and has done so for more than 40 years. It will only take the Commission a few weeks to confirm this. Once independent Scotland will be warmly welcomed into the EU as a full member state. Just imagine the damage that would be done to the EU if they did come out with a headline that said EU welcomes Montenegro, but rejects Scotland!