sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul

Wings Over Scotland


So long, and thanks for all the fish?

Posted on December 16, 2012 by

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the implications of independence for Scotland and its membership of the EU. As we’ve noted this week, the SNP has long acknowledged that the Scottish government would have to renegotiate terms of EU membership, but it’s highly unlikely that the EU would move to expel Scotland from the EU given the interaction between Scotland and the continent in goods, services, finances and people. As John Swinney recently noted:

“Scotland would not be applying for membership. Scotland is already a member of the European Union, our citizens are EU citizens today, we follow all of the EU relevant provisions that we are required to follow.

“So the key point is any negotiation would be taking place not to apply for membership, but for membership from within the European Union, which is the key distinction which has to be remembered in this debate.

“What we have always accepted is there has to be a negotiation about the detail and the terms of Scotland’s membership of the European Union, but crucially that will be taking place at a time when we are still part of the United Kingdom, still part of the European Union, of which we have been members for 40 years.

But if, just for the sake of argument Scotland was declared a new state and somehow cast out of this expansionist community, would it be the end? By being declared a box-fresh, brand-new nation Scotland would inherit all of the fixed assets and natural resources within our internationally-recognised borders, but none of the obligations of the old state – like a share of the national debt or being bound by international treaties.

Tempting, no? Sure, it would be awkward for a while, what with having to negotiate new treaties and being known as the only country in European history that the EU didn’t want in it, but there are alternatives to the EU.

And given the hypothetical opportunity, we also need to look at whether the EU is indeed the correct institution to be aligning our newly-independent nation with. An alternative but related strand of organisation was developed in 1960 by Norway and Switzerland, with Iceland and Lichtenstein joining later; it became known as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

In the 1990s EFTA worked with the EU to create the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA unites the 27 EU member states and the EFTA states (except Switzerland) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable goods, services, capital, and people to move freely about the EEA in an open and competitive environment, a concept referred to as the four freedoms.

In addition, the agreement covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and development, education, health, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture, collectively known as “flanking and horizontal” policies. It guarantees equal rights and obligations within the internal market for citizens and economic operators. It’s actually membership of the EEA that would ensure the necessary free trade and access to markets that Scotland will require as an independent nation, rather than membership of the EU.

For instance, we often hear about how the bulk of Scottish goods are sold in the rest of the UK and that upon independence we would be foreign suppliers. But this argument is deeply flawed since as long as the UK remains within the EEA, either as a member of the EU or by another means, then trade will continue undisturbed. Even the most rabid Tory anti-Europe diatribes don’t suggest leaving the EEA and it’s not surprising that they don’t. It’s the world’s largest free trade zone and membership brings great rewards to the economies of those involved. But you don’t need to be in the EU to be in the EEA.

Independence is the greatest opportunity to make sure that Scotland is a member of the international organisations that most benefit it, and as such it’s worthwhile to look at what would be the advantages of swapping membership of the EU for EFTA.

If Scotland wished to pursue another avenue by joining EFTA, what would the organisation have to say about that? We asked them:

To: Erik Andreas Mathisen (Senior legal advisor)

Subject: Entry requirements of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

Dear Erik,

I am writing to enquire about the entry procedures of EFTA and understand that you are the Senior Legal Adviser of the EFTA Convention.

This request is in relation to the upcoming Referendum vote on Independence for Scotland.

As you may be aware, Scotland intends to go to the polling stations in the Autumn of 2014 to decide whether to end the Treaties of Union of 1706 & 1707 between England and Scotland respectively.

In the event of a YES vote it would be intended that the next elections after this date (to be held in 2016) would be to elect a new government to the newly independent Scottish parliament.

What is not yet known is what policy that newly elected government would follow regarding membership of the European Union (if maintained after independence) or if the government would wish to apply to become part of EFTA (a popular alternative).

Are you able to provide me with information on what would be the process for Scottish application, timeframe and/or any other information that may be relevant?

I believe that in the run up to the independence vote it will be essential to assess the alternative outcomes and membership of EFTA is a definite possibility. In light of this I respectfully request your assistance and appreciate any response you provide.

Thank you for your time.

<RESPONSE>

Dear Scott,

Reference is made to your enquiry of 10 September (below).

According to Article 56 of the EFTA Convention, any State may accede to the Convention, provided that the EFTA Council decides to approve its accession.

In essence, the issue of membership is first and foremost a political matter, which would have to be discussed and determined at the highest political and diplomatic levels between all countries involved.

As regards further formal requirements, any new member state would have to apply to become a party to existing EFTA free trade agreements (Article 56(3)).

The last country to join EFTA was Liechtenstein, which acceded in 1991. However, Liechtenstein was associated with EFTA already from its establishment in 1960 due to its close links with Switzerland.

You will find more information, including the text of the EFTA Convention and existing free trade agreements, on our website http://www.efta.int/ (under “Legal Texts” and “Free Trade”, respectively).

Yours sincerely

Erik A. Mathisen

Senior Legal Adviser

EFTA – European Free Trade Association

The response is pretty clear; Scotland could apply to join subject to meeting the basic requirements, but would need to be approved by the existing members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein). But what are the basic requirements and would the EFTA members see advantage in accepting Scotland? To answer the first question let’s look at Article 56 of the EFTA Convention.

ARTICLE 56 – Accession and association

  1. Any State may accede to this Convention, provided that the Council decides to approve its accession, on such terms and conditions as may be set out in that decision. The instrument of accession shall be deposited with the Depositary, which shall notify all other Member States. This Convention shall enter into force in relation to an acceding State on the date indicated in that decision.
  2. The Council may negotiate an agreement between the Member States and any other State, union of States or international organisation, creating an association embodying such reciprocal rights and obligations, common actions and special procedures as may be appropriate. Such an agreement shall be submitted to the Member States for acceptance and shall enter into force provided that it is accepted by all Member States. Instruments of acceptance shall be deposited with the Depositary, which shall notify all other Member States.
  3. Any State acceding to this Convention shall apply to become a party to the free trade agreements between the Member States on the one hand and third states, unions of states or international organisations on the other.

So the basic requirement is to agree to sign up to the existing free trade agreements that the organisation has already agreed upon between the member states and also with external states. We’re already signed up for some of these through the EU and our membership of the EEA but there are other agreements to think about as well.

EFTA’s third-country policy is designed to safeguard the economic interests of its member states, to support and reinforce the process of European and interregional integration, and to contribute to worldwide efforts to liberalise trade and investment. Combining the contractual framework that the EFTA states have with the EU and the free trade agreements that EFTA has with third countries, approximately 80% of EFTA’s total merchandise trade is under global preferential trade arrangements that cover a range of topics.

EFTA’s third-country policy was initially established in 1990 to mirror the EU’s external economic relations approach after the end of the Cold War. In 1995, the EFTA ministers decided to extend the reach of preferential trade relations, geographically beyond Europe and also substantially by including, in addition to trade in goods and protection of intellectual property rights, areas such as trade in services, investment, competition and government procurement.

The first broad-based EFTA free trade agreement was concluded in 2000 with Mexico. Since then, more such agreements have followed, and EFTA is continuing to expand its network with partners around the world. Currently, in addition to membership of the EEA, EFTA has twenty four free trade agreements (covering 33 countries) with the following partners:

Albania; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Croatia; Egypt; Gulf Cooperation Council* (GCC); China (and Hong Kong separately); Israel; Jordan; Republic of Korea (South); Lebanon; Macedonia; Mexico; Montenegro; Morocco; Palestinian Authority; Peru; Serbia; Singapore; Southern African Customs Union (SACU); Tunisia; Turkey; and Ukraine.

*GCC (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates)

On the face of it, Scotland has a lot to gain by signing up to EFTA, with its membership of the EEA and global trade agreements to assist Scottish business – most notably the free-trade agreement with Canada that we currently don’t have as part of the EU. But these aren’t the only benefits Scotland would get out of membership.

The Scottish business community may benefit as EFTA generally produces less regulation each year than the EU, and reducing the burden of compliance could boost the economy by reducing the cost of doing business. Further to this, the membership “fees” for EFTA are significantly lower than those of the EU (<70%) and include the added bonus of the organisations accounts being signed off annually so that the public can be confident that the money is going where it’s supposed to.

The mot significant downside is that EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fishery Policy (CFP) funding would be lost. However as this was largely traded away by Westminster in order to secure the much vaunted “rebate”, so the effect wouldn’t be as severe as is sometimes thought, and the money saved from reduced fees could be redirected to these causes. Of far more significance would be gaining control once more over the running of our own fisheries, farming, justice system and home affairs.

For instance, by having control over its own fisheries Norway was able, through annually negotiated fisheries arrangements, to allow the EU to fish their territory in return for stringent quotas and access to EU waters. These annual agreements allow for the setting of Total Allocated Catches (TACs) for joint stocks, transfers of fishing possibilities, joint technical measures and issues related to control and enforcement.

The net effect of this agreement was that Norway obtained 204,982 tonnes of various species in the EU zone and in Greenland waters, in exchange for some 88,809 tonnes for the EU in Norwegian waters. (A situation that is mutually beneficial despite the mismatched numbers, as emphasis is placed on harvesting different stocks of fish by both groups.)

At present however, Scotland is part of the CFP and as such our waters are open to all in the EU. In 2012 the biggest fishers of Scottish waters are not the Scots, but the Spanish and Danes. A huge fleet of more than 10,000 of Spain’s 17,500 vessels are located on the Spanish northern coast between Portugal and France and are ideally placed for taking advantage of the North Sea and Atlantic. Similarly, Denmark with only 4,000 boats still hauls in over 25% of the total EU catch, and the Spanish are not far behind. Between them they dwarf Scotland’s entire fishing fleet of just 2,096 active fishing vessels, which are also generally smaller.

Another issue that’s raised frequently as a negative of EFTA is that you also need to implement some EU directives as part of the EEA obligations. This does not mean however, that EFTA members are forced to enact legislation they have no say over, as there are mechanisms to provide influence on the drafting of EU regulation. The EEA agreement allows for input from the EFTA countries before any new legislation is adopted. This process can be by EFTA experts in EU sub-committees or the submission of EFTA comments – these are ‘decision-shaping’ mechanisms.

EFTA states, however, do not participate in the voting in council, but since the EU has an increasing number of areas which are decided by qualified majority voting – ie no need for unanimous agreement – in this instance it matters little if Scotland is in EFTA rather than the EU since, in either case, it would need to put forward a convincing argument to get other EU members on board. (Having the ability to put forward our own case to influence EU regulation is a luxury we presently don’t get within the Union, so again even this is would still be an improvement on the status quo.)

Through our existing membership of the EEA (via the EU) we’re already compliant with all of the relevant EEA legislation that EFTA requires and transfer would be a relatively smooth process, likely able to be undertaken in a matter of months. But would Scotland be an economic fit for EFTA? To answer this let’s first look at the industrial competences of each member state compared to Scotland.

Switzerland: banking, insurance, machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism and other service sectors

Lichtenstein: banking, electronics, metal manufacturing, dental products, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, food products, precision instruments, tourism, optical instruments and other service sectors

Norway: petroleum and gas, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, timber, mining, textiles, fishing and various other manufacturing and service sectors

Iceland: fishing, fish processing, aluminium smelting, ferrosilicon production; geothermal power, hydropower, tourism. To which we can also add health technology, medicinal and medical products, IT and communication technology, and other service sectors.

Scotland: petroleum and gas, refining and chemicals, electricity, banking, insurance, financial services, tourism, IT and communication technology, videogame programming, electronics, life sciences, research and development, creative industries, shipbuilding, fishing/processing, farming, food processing, textiles, contact and shared service centres, and other service sectors

There are crossovers in most industries between Scotland and the other members. For instance, Scotland’s banking, insurance, financial service, and IT sectors lend themselves well to co-operation and coordination with Switzerland and Lichtenstein while fishing, fish processing and IT also serve interests for Iceland and Norway.

In addition to the above, oil and gas, energy, refining, and chemical industries complement the abilities and interests of Norway and would make EFTA one of the main energy providers to the EU. As such any negotiations about new EU law could see the issues raised by EFTA in the ‘decision shaping’ mechanisms being given greater consideration by EU members.

So on the balance of probability; it would seem more likely than not that EFTA would wish to see Scotland become a member of their trading community – a view that seems to be borne out by the recent article in the Scotsman where Tore Gronningsater, EFTA senior information officer, was reported as saying that if Scotland leaves the EU then it would be welcome to apply.

The truth is that even if we decided to go down the EFTA route, it’s likely that we’d experience more problems trying to leave the EU than we ever would by trying to stay, given how much money and effort the EU is throwing at desperately trying to hold onto bankrupt Greece. At the end of the day, it’s almost comically absurd to imagine the expansionist, energy-hungry EU kicking energy-rich Scotland out of the club while Denmark and Spain’s fishermen nervously eye the empty holds of their trawlers.

But membership of EFTA would be mutually beneficial for Scotland and the existing member states. While there seems little real doubt (as opposed to politically-motivated scaremongering) that the realpolitik dictates Scotland being welcomed as an EU succession state, it’s important that we debate the pros and cons of remaining in the EU at all when there’s a friendly alternative right on our doorstep.

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78 to “So long, and thanks for all the fish?”

  1. The problem with the whole Yes/No debate is that we’re getting bogged down into what is basically an SNP post-Yes election manifesto.  Articles such as the above should be pushed by Yes Scotland.

      

  2. Vronsky says:

    A timely post.  The silent but ubiquitous assumption that exclusion from the EU would be some sort of disaster must not be allowed to pass unchallenged.  From noble aspirations the EU quickly decayed into just another Westminster, with the unlikely twist that European politicians are more distant, more unaccountable, and even more ludicrously rewarded that their London counterparts (the Kinnocks have a reputed personal fortune of £10 million from the public purse -  I’d guess it’s much more).

    Tory agitation about Europe may have created the impression that wanting out of the EU is just a disease of the political right, and normal, healthy people ought to reject that sort of thing.  Tory opposition to the EU is at best Little Englanderism, but there are arguments from the left that are a good deal more substantive.  The Unionist jibe that Scotland in the EU is just Scotland dependent on another Union is about the only argument they have that holds water.

    Have a browse through this stuff, and you can easily find plenty more.

    http://www.spectrezine.org/

      

  3. cirsium says:

    thanks for a very interesting article.  EFTA’s accounts are signed off annually – how refreshing!    Given the problems which Scotland is experiencing in the UK, I have never understood why we would want to be part of an even larger union, especially one with an official like Mr van Rompuy who talks of a New World Order.

      

  4. JLT says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but since Barroso made his ‘vague’ statement, and then we had the gleeful ‘assumptions’ by the Unionists and the media, I’ve found quite a few Scots (of both sides of the argument) now saying that if the EU wants to be ‘bull-headed’ about our entry, then basically - Stuff the EU!!
    A lot of my friends and work colleagues have talked about EFTA. Seriously …when was the last time that you and your mates talked about EFTA?
    I think Barroso has dug himself a hole here, and he may find that he can’t get out of it. Every way he turns, he will be looking into the abyss. 
    Nearly half of the folk in Britain want the UK out of the EU anyway …and it seems that Barroso is handing it to them on a plate. The minute the rest of the UK finds out that they DO have to re-apply, Cameron will take that as his nod, and not even bother with a referendum. He could just blame the Scots for causing this mess, and in his own way …it’s a win-win-win-win situation for the Tories (Out of Europe, No EU referendum to be blamed on the Tories, free to pursue whatever they want with out EU interference and Labour annhilated due to Scots independence). 
    Another way to look at it is this ,..say the whole of Britain is out of the EU. Not only Scotland will be applying to EFTA, but so will England. To say the least, I think the rest of Europe will begin to panic. A lot of nations may decide that it might be better to be out of the EU also than be in it. I could be wrong…but how many European nations these days, think it’s absolutely smashing to be in the EU. Apart from France and Germany, I think other may say, stuff the Euro, he humped anyway, bring back the Guilder, Franc, Peso, Drachma.

    As I said, either Barroso lets us in, and suffers what could be breakup of states within EU nations, and thus has to let them in also …or he sees the EU fragment and very possibly …break-up…  

      

  5. Barontorc says:

    It presents a very interesting situation where an independent Scotland can decide on which  trade organisation to join with. This of course neither rules out or in, a continuing, or as some would have it, a new application to the EU, but it’s for Scotland to decide and no other.

    I would welcome a ‘toe in the water’ announcement from the SNP, that such is already under consideration, however, the politics of this I leave to them.

    The coming White Paper will be an important document indeed and the road of travel for all other political parties in Scotland could be very, very bumpy, heading for 2015 and 2016.

      

  6. DougtheDug says:

    If Scotland wins independence and then starts to negotiate its terms and conditions as a member of the EU there always has to be a fall back option such as the EFTA. What happens if the terms offered with EU membershp are extremely poor for Scottish interests?
    If Scotland has not considered any other option apart from membership of the EU then the EU side of the negotiators will hold the whip hand because Scotland will not have any choice but to accept the conditions offered as it will have considered no other route to free trade in europe but EU membership.
    The things that Scotland can offer the EU are oil and fish but these must not be handed over lock, stock and barrel to the EU as a condition of membership.
    Looking at various sources of information Scotland produces 2/3′rds of the EU’s crude oil. The figures are in thousands of barrels per day.
     

    UK/Scotland
    1100

    Denmark
    224

    Italy
    110

    Romania
    88

    German
    68

    Spain
    32

    France
    23

    Total
    1645

    Scotland’s Share
    66.87%

    If Scotland pulls out of the EU’s common fisheries policy then the EU’s northern waters in the Atlantic stop on a line just north of Donegal going west and at Berwick on Tweed going east. 
    I’ve always been a supporter of the EU as it created a Europe of free trade and movement out of the ashes of the Second World War but if they don’t want us why should we want them?

      

  7. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    I wish the Indepedence movement would make a comparison of the pros and cons of remaining in the EU or joining EFTA.

    I wonder if Barrosa would  tell us we can’t leave the EU as Scots are EU citizens. Could certainly put us in a strong negotiating position.     

      

  8. JLT says:

    Ronald,

    ‘I wonder if Barrosa would tell us we can’t leave the EU as Scots are EU citizens. Could certainly put us in a strong negotiating position

    Exactly. That’s why I believe Barroso has got himself tied up in knots. I think we hold a few aces ourselves in the deck, as well maybe a joker.

    In fact, I would have a laugh with Barroso, and have the SNP state, that we’ve changed our minds, and since it seems we are no longer required, then we DON’T want to be in the EU. Let’s do reverse psychology on him, and see what he has to say then !! Pound to a penny he would be spluttering into his coffee and making squeaky bum noises !! 

      

  9. Aplinal says:

    Thanks for this Scott.  I confess that I am gradually being persuaded that the EU is no longer our only or best option (and this from a very pro-Europe supporter) and I did not yet fund the impetus to investigate EFTA more carefully.  The way you describe it, there seems no real drawback.  Surely there must be some, or everyone would leave the EU for EFTA/EEA?
     
    As ronald says, let’s have the pros/cons.  This referendum is a golden opportunity.  We have to make the right choice after Independence.

      

  10. RossBoss says:

    The whole perception that being anti-EU is being anti-Europe, so much so that it has garnered the title of ‘Euro-skepticism’, is the oddest phenomena in this whole debate.

    Because like it or not, the EU is a political union in the same vain as the UK, just with many more countries involved. They have been very open about wanting to make a United States of Europe out of the EU. 

    So it does perplex me when i see people on the Left that are reasonable on most issues, (including Scottish independence) yet whenever the very notion of leaving the EU is brought up they blow it off as Euro-skepticism, Little Englander syndrome, or what have you.

    I mean even this EU ‘Common Fisheries Policy’ is an obvious drain on Scottish resources, with other countries taking all our fish. But think about that with an EU mentality and it makes sense, since Scotland, Spain and Denmark are all one nation state, so can fish anywhere in THEIR nation.

    Now let’s create the hypothetical scenario that the EU creates a ‘Common Oil Policy’. Now keep in mind this is not impossible for them to do, it is very much on the table, although probably a little down the line. I mean the people of the EU are determined to make every country in the EU one nation state. They don’t try to hide this, and yet no one arguing for Scottish independence seems to acknowledge it.. 

      

  11. Les Wilson says:

    I have been suggesting the EEA EFTA route for some time and I think it is good that others are now having a serious look at this option.
    You have to ask whether or not it is worth our while. Barroso, I feel has put his foot in it by being influenced by other parts of the EU who are talking Independence.
    WE all know these problems are not the same as Scotland, but for their political reasons they seem or suggest to, that the could possible alter their laws to deprive Scotland.

    Well, what I would say to the EU, is ”

    “If Scotland became Independent, would the EU accept Scotland from within as a full member? Yes or No?
    This would be helpful in establishing whether or not Scotland would apply for such membership or seek alternatives.” 

    This would bring to their attention our urgency to know but also raise the possibility that if they are not interested we would move on to other possibilities. 

      

  12. Arbroath1320 says:

    For a number of years now I have been growing more and more disillusioned with the EU.  What I find particularly irksome is the fact that for around EIGHTEEN YEARS the EU’s annual accounts have NEVER been signed off yet they continue to demand MORE money from the EU members. with NO questions being asked!
     
    As others have mentioned I have no problems with Scotland joining EFTA. In fact the very simple idea that the EFTA annual accounts are signed off EVERY YEAR is a distinctive ADVANTAGE. I am now currently sitting on the fence, 50/50, as to whether Scotland joins EFTA or goes totally Independent. For me the EU is no longer an option. Joining the EU is leading Scotland down a slippery slope to hell. Any negotiations Nicola Sturgeon has has to include the notice to Barroso that Scotland’s preferred option is that we join EFTA.

      

  13. muttley79 says:

    @Arb

    That is pretty much how I feel about the EU.  The greatest achievement of the EU has been peace in Europe after two devastating world wars (apart from the Balkans).  Another major success for the EU is the free movement of goods and services across the continent.  Unfortunately, the EU wanted its own constitution, its own flag etc.  The single currency was a disaster.  It just wants too much power now. 

      

  14. Juteman says:

    All i want from Europe at the moment is free trade and travel.  Everything else i trust to a government elected by my fellow Scots.

      

  15. AnneDon says:

    Thanks for this, Scott. It’s a valuable addition to the post-independence debate. As others have noticed, Scots are no more pro-europe than the rest of GB;  mostly, they don’t want to get involved in the kind of right wing rhetoric that usually accompanies anti-EU diatribes. And it was a valuable source of protection and funding pre-1997.  We won’t need that if we are independent, and it’s worth bearing in mind that the EU is not the be-all and end-all of international trading.

      

  16. Arbroath1320 says:

    Absolutely Muttley. The EU is, in my view, getting too big for its own boots. From what I’ve read on EFTA they definitely seem to be the BETTER European organisation to be a member of. Here’s a link to a BBC piece interviewing the Icelandic President who SHOCK HORROR says Independence would be a GOOD thing for the Scots but it for the SCOTS to make this decision.
     
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-20742997

      

  17. Dal Riata says:

    Thanks for the in-depth article, Scott! Very informative. While I was reading it I kept thinking, ‘Why, oh why is this not being printed in one of the newspapers, at least in Scotland, maybe even in a condensed form?’ Soon enough, though, the reality of what we are getting, and what we are NOT getting from the unionist press, and why, came to mind…so, no chance of that then!

    Like many, previously I was ambivalent toward Scotland’s position re the EU in or out. Now, when I receive information like that obtained from this article, I am leaning more to the EFTA option should I, personally, have a choice to make perhaps by referendum.

    The interesting part in this whole EU scare-story propaganda pushed by the  Establishment MSM is that it has actually increased the voters (those who are aware of the MSM misinformation and lies) knowledge and information about what being in the EU, and, by turn, EFTA means for the good or detriment of an independent Scotland! Great strategists the Vote No and be Bitter Together rabble! The more scare-stories and lies they use to try and scare off the Scottish electorate the more the electorate are finding out the truth – brilliant!

      

  18. muttley79 says:

    @Arb

    The No campaign will not be happpy with the Icelandic President. :D :
    The glee and gloating from unionists when Iceland when bankrupt was not too pretty.  Still at least the unionists’ bandwagon went from strength to strength from 2008 till today.  :D :

      

  19. Bill C says:

    @Arbroath1320
    @mutley79 - Very much in agreement with both your posts guys.  I remember reading Jim Sillar’a Independence in Europe, a case for Optimism and being filled with enthusiasm.  Today I am not so sure. In 1944 Martin Bormann (Hitler’s secretary) started to disperse Nazi capital into over 750 foreign companies with a view to building a Fourth Reich some time in the future. Some believe that Germany’s economic dominance of Europe today is a result of Bormann’s planning. However no matter whether that is true or not, few would dispute that the EU has grown into a very powerful, bureaucratic and authoritative organisation. 

    I think a renegotiation of terms after independence can only work in Scotland’s favour.    

      

  20. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    When Willie Rennie was on the other night, admitting Scotland would remain in the EU, I was very interested (I know!) to hear him stress that the EU was Scotland’s only option.
    Seems the unionists are terrified that someone might mention EFTA!

      

  21. muttley79 says:

    O/T.

    Did anyone see the Scottish Sunday politics show.  Tom Devine was on and said he thought that in late 2013, early 2014, Scottish Labour would propose Devo Max!    Finger on the pulse or on the nuclear button?  Is he on to something or as he started the Christmas drinking season early?  Sounds a very unlikely development to me.   

      

  22. velofello says:

    Great informative article. Now lets have an “honest” debate as so desired by the Bitter campaigners.
    Some express the view that the benefit of the EU has been the end to inter-European wars. I’ve pondered at times whether each nation requires its own war to convince itself of the futility of war.
    And poor we honest, a simple  two syllable word doing nobody any harm until the Unionists chanced upon it as a means, they believed, to cast doubt in the integrity of the Scottish Government a word and plea expressed endlessly by Johann Lamont.
    When the very tricky French diplomat Tallyrand died the King of France asked “Now why did he do that?”. And so i ask myself, ” why does Ms Lamont ask for an honest debate, does she have an alternative way of behaviour?

      

  23. Tris says:

    I’m fast coming to the conclusion, helped by this article, that our best bet would be EFTA.

    I hope that the Scottish government will look into this very seriously.

    I can’t see advantages in being in the EU over being in EFTA.

     

      

  24. Gordon says:

    Good article.  It is still I think it in the best interests to be part of the European Union.  We are not and rather should not aim to be an isolationist state and there is something in the Swiss and Norwegian mindset which is more that way inclined. 

    But of course the EU has to be reformed but better to do that from the inside not outside, I don’t think the Swiss and Norwegian options suit.  

    There is some mention again of the old chestnut regarding the EU budget.  Let us say it again the accounts are not signed up because the institutions in Brussels cannot fully guarantee the spending in the countries.  

     

      

  25. Jeannie says:

    But what about the actual people? If we leave the EU, what happens to Scots living and working in EU countries and vice versa?  I take it EFTA/EEA membership doesn’t cover them?

      

  26. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      

  27. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @Jeannie

    “If we leave the EU, what happens to Scots living and working in EU countries and vice versa? I take it EFTA/EEA membership doesn’t cover them?”

    Actually it does.

    Its part of the free movement of peoples. EU nationals in Scotland will be allowed to stay and vice versa for scots nationals in EU.

    It gets rid of the fear that a vote no means deportation.

    Even the EHIC health insurance cards cover EEA not EU countries. 

           

      

  28. Arbroath1320 says:

    I agree Muttley. What with Cameron’s wee dig at joining the Euro I’m beginning to wonder if there is anyone left in the BT camp with any hair left on their head. Talking about wagons I believe this about sums up the BT wagon. :lol:
     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y18z-18tJw
     
    I agree with you Bill renegotiation WILL work out in Scotland’s favour. The only outstanding question in my view is whether our future is in the EU or in EFTA. AS I and others have said EFTA appears to be the more suitable option for Scotland. However only AFTER negotiations have been completed will we know the answer to this question.

      

  29. Marian says:

    EFTA appears to be what the EU should be for it is a trading union without all the unnecessary baggage of a political union. I’ve never really understood why it has been been deemed necessary for the EU to move away from being strictly a trading union to becoming a political union with all the bureaucratic nonsense it has inflicted upon unless it is a Trojan horse for the eventual imposition of a totalitarian government over all the people’s of Europe. Having said all that I don’t think this is the time or the place for this issue as the first and only priority is to win independence in 2014. The unionists would love for if the YES campaign fell apart because of petty squabbling between now and referendum day over whether or not the EU or EFTA membership holds the best economic future for Scotland. Plenty time to debate and decide this issue post independence and not before.

      

  30. Vronsky says:

    “We are not and rather should not aim to be an isolationist state”
    Define ‘isolationist state’ and enumerate those who propose it. 

      

  31. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    Scotland does not do well from the EU. We get very little regional support or support for agriculture, and our fish stocks are disproportionally exploited.
    However this is not the EU’s fault. The blame lies squarely with the UK Government which traded the above for their precious rebate, which benefits London as per usual.
    A Scottish negotiating team will do MUCH better! 

      

  32. Boorach says:

    @Mutlet

    I’m afraid Scottish labour can offer anything they like but they are not in any position to carry through on such rash promises. Only the wasteminster mob are in a position to promise anything in response to a ‘no’ vote and personally I’d need a very large dose of laxative before swa 

      

  33. Dave Smith says:

    I can see this becoming interesting. Now, for interested amateurs like myself, is there a series of bullet points or similar that could be posted up, providing quick answers on all these issues for those moments when the subject comes up with ‘undecideds’ or even unionists?
    My own gut feelings are that EFTA is the better of the two options. As near to having the cake and eating it as we’ll ever get, I suspect.
     

      

  34. Jeannie says:

    @Andrewfraegovan
    @Scott Minto
    Thanks for the info.  That’s really interesting. So does anybody know what exactly it is that we benefit from by being in the EU that we wouldn’t get if we were only in EFTA/EEA?

      

  35. Derick fae Yell says:

    I am not a member or supporter of the SDA -  but they have clearly been doing some thinking about EFTA.  http://www.scottishdemocraticalliance.com/international/scotland-in-europe
    Which makes me think? what do the Scottish Socialist Party and the Greens think on this issue? Anybody know to save me the bother of digging?
     

      

  36. muttley79 says:

    @Boorach

    That was not my opinion, it was what Tom Devine said.  Personally I would be amazed if Scottish Labour, given their relentless hatred of the SNP and Salmond, offered anything close to Devo Max before the referendum. 

    On another note, I don’t fully agree with Scottish Skier’s theory about Cameron torpeoding the No campaign.  However, he did contradict Darling’s claims about Scotland being forced into the Euro this week.  Why did Cameron do this?  Is there another agenda going on?  Who knows?…Certainly does not look like an action that would build trust among those in the No campaign though.

      

  37. scottish_skier says:

    Here, how come Iceland is independent. Surely it’s too wee?

    Liking the presidents comments. Nice to see Iceland politely sticking two fingers up at bully Britain after it used terrorist legislation against them.

      

  38. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    The EEA is defined as all of the EU member states plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

    I understand that EFTA has negotiated trading terms with Brazil as well as other emerging nations. It’s interesting reading opinions on this site that nobody appears to favour EU membership over EFTA. I would be keen to hear anyones opinion favouring the EU.     

      

  39. Boorach says:

    @Muttley

     My apologies, didn’t for a moment think that was your opinion. Really must try to be more  accurate with my typing finger and more thoughtful with my phraseology!! :lol:

      

  40. Boorach says:

    @muttley

    They are welcome to all the agendas they can muster just as long as they continue to contradict each other!
    While they’re hurling pelters at each other they are not hurting us….. And Jock Undecided can see just how united their kingdom is!!

      

  41. Dal Riata says:

    Sorry O/T

    If you STILL haven’t had enough Better Together Vote No Team GB patriotic Union Jack flag-waving propaganda then the BBC’s Sports Personality [sic] of the Year 2012 is on right now for your delectation…it really is something to behold (as long as you can stomach it, that is)!

    What, you’ve already had enough of ‘Gary, Clare and Sue’ to last a lifetime? Oh come on, tsk, tsk! :-)

      

  42. Derick fae Yell says:

    Thanks OldNat – very short version but the Greens seem to be pro-EU in a sort of ‘lets make it nicer’ way. 

      

  43. Oldnat says:

    Derick

     ”pro-EU in a sort of ‘lets make it nicer’ way. ” Nice description!

    I suspect it may be a sentiment shared by actual people (ie not politicians) in countries across the EU. 

      

  44. Stui says:

    Thanks Scott for the article. There are a few EFTA stories around today in the media. 

    Article in the Guardian today about EFTA and Norway,
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/16/would-britain-do-as-well-as-norway-outside-eu? 
    Also article in Herald from Iain MacWhirter. 

    There is also a top story (front page main story in print edition) in the NZZ Switzerland about the fact that EU is demanding more money from Switzerland during the negotiation of bilateral treaties. This is money that is used as part of the cohesion funding, to support new EU members. Story is in German.
    http://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/schweiz/die-eu-sagt-sich-los-vom-bilateralismus-1.17894524 

    My german is not that great but the main gist seems to be that you have to pay EU even if you are in EFTA and that EU are demanding more money partly as a cost for access to the single market, although I take the point from Velofellow (on other thread) that if you are energy rich Scotland this might make sense anyhows to be in EFTA because the savings would outweigh the costs. I was very pro EFTA for Scotland before, but now am more undecided. The feeling here in Switzerland is that EU wants to get Switzerland to join as a full member. Swiss people are reluctant to join the EU because they fear that they will be dominated by their large neighbour Germany.

      

  45. Blindmanonhorse says:

    Time for Scotland to join EFTA and for EFTA to adopt the Swiss and the Swiss Franc 

      

  46. NorthBrit says:

    @velofello
    The quote on Talleyrand’s death is most commonly attributed to Metternich, who is supposed to have commented “and what did he mean [by that]?”
    You are the first and I suspect only person who has ever compared Ms Lamont to Talleyrand.  They belong together like a deep fried Mars Bar and Le Train Bleu.
    On the other hand the Talleyrand deathbed quote more commonly attributed to the King of France is perhaps relevant to Lamont – and all of her SLab colleagues:
    T:  « Sire, je souffre comme un damné. »
    Roi:  « Déjà ! »

      

  47. Gordon says:

    I think its worth reviewing a similar debate which came out of the Economist two weeks ago - 
    http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21567914-how-britain-could-fall-out-european-union-and-what-it-would-mean-making-break 

      

  48. dadsarmy says:

    I posted this in the lies thread, apologies for double-posting:

    There was a good article by Kevin McKenna on Guardian today, one of the best I’ve seen on the EU [ed: in the MSM]. It opened a lot of questions, and there were some interesting posts, including from a Norwegian who’d been on the NO campaign for Norway’s EU referendums in 1972 and 1994.

    It seems that it’s their two main government parties that just dumbly implement EU rules, but that they can opt out – it’s in the contract. EFTA also excludes Ag & Fish.

    A very interesting claim by this poster is that if Norway left the EEA, the WTO rules would forbid the EU from making any trade restrictions on Norway.

    This is of interest both in case Scotland doesn’t inherit EU membership or votes to leave, and also and particularly the Unionist claim that the rUK would shut down trade with Scotland. It’s not just the EU that prevents that – it’s the WTO.

    That would need verifying though.

      

  49. dadsarmy says:

    A point to make is that Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are in the EEA, Switzerland has hundreds of bi-lateral agreements. Also that Iceland applied for EU membeship in 2008/9, but has problems because of the bank refusals with UK and ?, and also because of, ummm, red herring or mullet or some fishy war. But it seems the people may be against EU membership now, so a referendum could produce a NO vote.

    EFTA may though currently be defecting one by one, on the other hand, Scotland membership could indeed stregthen it.

    Personally I like the sound of EFTA, and it defo should be checked out by YES, and even the SG / SNP. Not just as a backstop, but a real alternative.

    Yes, I too find people changing their minds with the Barroso nonsense. Not to put too fine a point on it, the guy knows exactly what he’s doing – opposing our Independence, and interfering with the due course of our referendum. I don’t like that.

      

  50. dadsarmy says:

    OT – Anyway, here’s a last thought for the night.

    Unionists complain about a biased question, but let’s give them a biased answer instead:

    “Do you agree that Scotland should be an Independent Country?” YES / SNP

    Surefire winner :-)

      

  51. dadsarmy says:

    Sorry for 4th posting – been on Guardian duty all day yesterday! Sneekyboy – thanks for article. I’ve now read all very interesting postings here.

    Arbroath1320
    – Joining EFTA doesn’t neccessarily mean joining the EEA, and being a member of EFTA and EEA doesn’t mean at some time we couldn’t leave the EEA.

    Icelandic president support for Independence for Scotland – now with the Barroso thing all over the news. Timing? Perhaps Iceland would like to withdraw its application for EU membership, and would welcome Scotland’s support for EFTA as a new member.

    Nicola Sturgeon letter in the Herald – interesting. It may seem a little obsequious, but it is also a shot across the bows of the EU (fishing etc.). But an article in Herald on Wednesday indicates Barroso may refuse to talk to her, as it’s “political”.  Now that will be cool!  Nothing about the House of Lords or the BBC being political? I do wonder about the SNP though. Clueless or hidden agenda?

    Postings here – maybe 2 still in favour of the EU, some on the fence, some moved over to EFTA, some always favoured EFTA but perhaps just went with the flow.

    I think out of the EU is a big big YES vote winner; at least an announced referendum before “staying in”. Personally I’d go for EFTA, almost definitely now.

    I don’t think this “dissension in the ranks” is bad though – it helps, I think, to distance Independence from SNP. Independence needs much more definition as “freedom to make our own choices”, rather than following one political party’s policies. Perhaps EU / EFTA would be a fantastic policy to start on?

    What is interesting is that “cybernats” seem largely to have moved on from defending Scotland’s continued membership in the EU, to discussing the options. And I think perhaps that can have a good influence over the undecided – it makes it their referendum, not just ours.

    Sorry for the boring length of this – I ahd to get my thoughts down ;-)

      

  52. Juteman says:

    I think the Unionists and the EU forget Scotlands motto at their peril. It surely reflects the Scots character.
    Nemo me impune lacessit.

      

  53. Macart says:

    @dadsarmy

    I agree, always leant more toward the EFTA model, but in the larger independence debate….. in, out, shake it all about. Well it’s never been a deal breaker really. The only reason the opposition raise the issue at all is to attack the SNPs credibility. EU in or out has never been that important to most people in the street, in fact it still isn’t.

      

  54. Don McC says:

    ” have the SNP state, that we’ve changed our minds, and since it seems we are no longer required, then we DON’T want to be in the EU. Let’s do reverse psychology on him, and see what he has to say then !! Pound to a penny he would be spluttering into his coffee and making squeaky bum noises !! ”

    Wouldn’t that simply become the latest scare story, JLT?  SNP wants us to leave the EU but we can’t and all the legal advice says so?  The Hootsman n co, along with auntie, would remind us night after night after night about how we’re stuck in the EU and that means the indepence just won’t work.

    Not that I think the MSM in Scotland is contrary, mind. 

      

  55. velofello says:

    northbrit: I enjoyed your response re Tallyrand. I certainly didn’t intend to set Ms Lamont on any comparative scale with him.
    My view of Ms Lamont and her honest debate pleas is probably better expressed “its only words”.  
    There is a monument to Tallyrand  adjacent to the chateau in Valencay, Idre dept 36. 

      

  56. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    The SG is right to take the position it is taking on the EU, but must also explore the other options – EFTA, EEA, or out altogether. However I think it is vital that, on conclusion of negotiations, the matter is put to the Scottish people in a referendum.
    The SG must promise this well ahead of the referendum. I believe this would provide a great boost to the YES vote, as well as spiking the unionist guns.
    This would also put Scotland in the strongest possible negotiating position. 

      

  57. Les Wilson says:

    I personally like the idea of the Scottish Dollar SC$.
    Similar to the other countries who were freed by the UK ie The Australian Dollar, the Canadian Dollar, the Singapore Dollar and I think there are others.

    Stuff the Bank of England, let us just use the 8% or so that we own of it into our negotiations.
    We should seriously consider something like this if only to put the wind up rUK , as believe me when I say that it would put a panic in their camp if they seriously thought that they could lose the GDP of Scotland going into Sterling.

    They would have to now we were not bluffing and that if they continued their negative stance and laughing about Scotland joining the Sterling area, it may well produce better results for us and that the laugh could be on them.

      

  58. Pa Broon says:

    I was (sort  of) for Scotland being in the EU, although the defining argument for me was the notion that nothing else would really work. Reading more about EFTA, I now lean away from EU membership and more towards EFTA.

    At the end of the day (a phrase I detest but is apt) we have to have agreements with our neighbours and the EU can be penurious if you’re not a ‘special friend’, we have to do something, now though, I prefer EFTA.

    The entire EU argument is a polarised one, I understand that in Scotland people are more disposed toward membership of the EU, (i think for the same pragmatic reason I had.) I also don’t know how the vote stacks up in terms of Yes/No to Europe and Yes/No to independence and what effect throwing EFTA membership into that mix will have?

    I think there is a lot of scaremongering going on about being out of the EU (around trade mostly) could that be countered with EFTA membership while also bringing on board those who are against both EU membership and independence? (the Euro-sceptic britnat type?)

      

  59. scottish_skier says:

    I see this morning Scots are apparently increasingly racist to the English according to the MSM.

    http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/6445-media-anti-english-racism-claims-wrong-and-irresponsible-says-scottish-government

    Except of course that’s not true as racism towards white English people continues to decline.

    Yep, we’re all racists now. Lovely that Scots are thought of that way within the union. Such a happy family.

    Scotland is being pushed out of the union. 

      

  60. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @Pa Broon

    Dont get me wrong here Pa, I am very pro EU, but that does not mean that I’m pro being played for a sucker and that seems to be what Barosso is doing.

    The refreshing thing with EFTA is that I (a normal everyday member of the public) asked a question and got a definitive answer.

    Ok, so it did not come down one way or another, but instead said if you agree to meet the rules and apply then we will decide based on what we think you bring to the group.

    The maintenance of trade and personal relations is a definate boost that can indeed counter the EU scaremongering.

    Remember, the whole EU thing is basically to scare people about losing trade and for EU residents in Scotland to be scared into voting no.

    If you have a fallback / alternative on the table then your cards are much stronger.

      

  61. Les Wilson says:

    For thinking people, there is some recognition required of just how bad the UK economy is, and it is truly terrible. Experts who are being honest say our debt will just climb and climb until there is a point where it will never be paid back.

    The money generated by our oil, gas, and all our other resources are being sucked in to pay towards this debt and Scotland sees scant reward for our riches.

    If we vote NO to Independence, we will be sunk for long into the future, things will get seriously worse across the UK and we will be dragged down with them.

    While Independence will not solve things immediately, we do have the resources to help us find our way out of this mess, but we most definitely need to vote YES.
    Otherwise we are going down the plughole with the rest of the UK. It will effect the lives of everyone across these Islands including us, big time.

    In the meantime they will continue to use our wealth towards paying for the mess and greed that successive Westminster governments have made for us all.
    There is the only way out for Scotland to escape this rot, and that of course is to be able to use all our resources to rebuild our own land, restructure our industries and let the Scottish entrepreneurial  minds get to work. While it will not be easy, there is a goal in sight to spur us on.

      

  62. dadsarmy says:

    Juteman: Nemo me impune lacessit. Indeed, I like it.
    Macart – + Sneekyboy.
    The SNP would have a fear of being accused of “another U-turn” but so what? Are they afraid? There’s 2 years to go. I think if they opened a debate on EU versus EFTA, there’d be a lot of interest in Scotland. From the begininning they’d have to emphasise that we’d still be in the EEA, so EU citizens wouldn’t be sent home, we could still go package tour to Ibiza and Zante, and work in the EU. That we could still trade as normal with the EU, and fly over to Spain to buy cheap fags / booze.

    I really think the SNP / SG should go for it. My motto is to make a positive out of a negative, and it really works incredibly well. The way the SNP approach this is that they say they’ve been talking to us, and are aware of increasing doubt about the EU in Scotland. With Independence we get choices, and they accept it isn’t their right to make these choices themselves, it’s up to us for anything major. So after  a YES vote in the referendum, we’ll be give a referendum on EU / EFTA, and perhaps others (currency pound). And they will accept the will of the people. – (U-turn) = + (choice, democracy, respect).

    In the 2007 national conversations, there were a lot of view expressing doubt about the EU – including mine. Perhaps the SNP were wrong to go solid for the EU, but who cares? The EU is a question that could also be turned around:

    “If we weren’t members of the EU now, would we want to join?”.

    Well, would we?

      

  63. Doug Daniel says:

    I’ve always been pro-EU, but perhaps in the same way that many folk are pro-union without actually considering why. I like the idea of being part of a wider European community and the idea that I could just up sticks and move to somewhere like Germany or Sweden without needing to get a visa or whatever. But the fact that you don’t HAVE to be in the EU to enjoy that makes the case for the EU weaker. The fact that we already have to show passports at the borders of Europe because of xenophobes down south means we’re not even enjoying the full range of benefits of this freedom of movement.

    It’s a shame the media are so hostile to Europe. I dare say there are benefits of EU membership that we wouldn’t get in EFTA, but we’re so poorly informed about what goes on in Europe that it’s impossible to know. I think we need to retain EU membership in the short-term, but then have a discussion on whether it’s the best fit for indy Scotland. That’s a difficult debate to have at the moment though.

    My main problem with the EU is the parliament. The more we talk about Scotland having a democratic deficit in the UK, the more I realise we have the same thing in the European Parliament.

    Martin Schulz is the president of the parliament. Who he?
    Joseph Daul is the leader of the biggest political grouping in the parliament. Who he?
    Hannes Swoboda is the leader of the second-largest grouping. Who he?

    The thing I find most troubling is the fact that these groupings actually refer to themselves as “parties”. Joseph Daul is the head of the European People’s Party. Has anybody here ever had a chance to vote for the EPP? What about the Party of European Socialists, anybody voted for them? European Green Party? European Free Alliance? We don’t vote for these parties. You can’t join these parties as a member and campaign for them at a grassroots level. Therefore, they are not real parties.

    A continent is too big an entity to be a meaningful democracy. You cannot seriously suggest that an MEP, with a constituency of millions (we may have 6 MEPs, but they all cover the same 5.2 million Scots) can meaningfully represent those who elected them. The EU should be a platform for member states to discuss common issues and work out how to co-operate across borders, but it should not be a policy- and law-making structure. It’s the lack of a parliament that makes EFTA quite a tantalising proposal for me, because we all know that as soon as you set up a parliament, its politicians try to absorb more and more powers. The European Parliament seems to go completely against the idea of localism.

    But perhaps we just need to be better informed about what the EU is doing for us? Perhaps if we had the same sort of coverage it gets on the continent, we would appreciate it more? Until we know all the facts, we can’t decide this – which is why I am inclined against announcing an EU referendum now, although it is important that we do discuss the other options, such as Scott has done here.

      

  64. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    @dadsarmy
    The beauty of this is that the SG/SNP can encourage this sort of conversation and even promise referendums on Europe/Pound/monarchy/etc WITHOUT changing their own policies.
    The only possible unionist counter would be “Oooooh it’s so uncertain, the people will decide, ooooh scary!”

      

  65. Macart says:

    @dadsarmy

    It would get my vote dads. :)

    As the circumstances change so do the facts. If the SG came out tomorrow and said ‘well sod it, why not?’, I wouldn’t bat an eye. Trade is trade, is trade. Regardless of our stance on the EU Mr BMW and Mr French vintner is not going to say ‘I won’t trade with you, you’re not a member of my club’. It’d certainly put a lot of Westminster and media noses out of joint if the SG put it to the people to decide on this issue too.

      

  66. JLT says:

    Don McC

    Wouldn’t that simply become the latest scare story, JLT? 

    Not really. If Barroso wants to act the clown and snub Scotland, then it’s hardly the SNP’s fault. If he continues to talk mince, then seriously…if I was Nicola, then I would say ‘Goodbye’ to the EU, and ‘Hello EFTA’…and a lot of Scots are now considering this new option (see all of the above). Hardly anyone above is saying we should stick it out with the EU. As soon as someone dictates to the Scots, then it usually results in us pushing back. We don’t like being talked down to, or being made a fool of !! If Scotland does say ‘No’ to the EU, then I hope the bite that it takes out of Barroso’s backside is a large and painful one !! – I don’t think the Danes, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, etc are looking for Scotland to walk away, so I can see them howling from the rafters. But if need be… then so be it. Off to EFTA we go then.

    This might actually hammer the Unionists. A lot of Scots don’t like the EU. If the SNP say that we are no longer going to apply to the EU because of their bullying stance, but EFTA wants us to join them (which they have said), then a lot of Scots who are either on the fence, or Unionist, may go …I’m voting Yes. The Yes vote could go strato on this subject !!! 

      

  67. Doug Daniel says:

    I don’t think the SNP should change tact on the EU. However, there’s nothing to stop others – particularly the Greens – from taking such a stance. After all, the Greens are already a bit wary of the EU, seeing it as being too centralised and not focussing enough on local economies.

    However, I think it’s maybe too late for the SNP – and the official Yes campaign – to start adopting a preference for EFTA. At most, perhaps Yes Scotland could be more vocal about it being a choice Scots can decide upon post-indy.

      

  68. JLT says:

    Hi Doug,
    The only problem I see is that if the SNP maintain that the EU entry is the only option on the table, then I worry that they could end up signing a contract that is basically making a deal with the devil.
    The unionists will laugh and howl at the same time if the SNP signed a document that really hammers the Scots…and all because the SNP needed to prove the point that they were right about the EU.
    I would rather they did have a second choice. As said, I don’t blame the SNP. This is Barroso’s doing, and he’s made a pigs ear of it.
    There is no shame if the SNP had to admit that the EU might not be an option, but EFTA would be. All the SNP would have to say is that there is no precedent for throwing an EU member out, that there is no precedent that an existing EU member has to re-apply, and that the EU is hot-footing from one excuse to another. If the SNP can point all of this out, that it is the EU’s fault, then they can hardly be blamed. Then, if I was Nicola, I would happily point out that EFTA do want us. Let the people know what this means, and how much we could save by not contributing to the EU on a yearly basis, and you never know, the people might come about, and think that the alternative is a better decision. After all …we all seem to think it. And you wouldn’t have even thought this a couple of weeks ago !!!

        

      

  69. Ananurhing says:

    Interesting story on Euronews over the weekend. The EU had over a million visa applications from Ukranian nationals this year. An EU Home Affairs spokesman confirmed that only around 3% of applications had been rejected, and the EU plans to make the process easier in future. 
    Yet somehow we, as EU citizens will become a lost tribe, stripped of our citizenship and cast out into the European wilderness. Utter nonsense!

    And despite Ukraine’s EU ambitions being blocked, Barroso has requested a summit with Ukraine in February. He’s worried about them getting too cosy with Russia.

    Lesson to be learned there. I wonder if Putin wants to rent a couple of deep water facilities on the Clyde. If he doesn’t I’m sure the Chinese would.           

      

  70. dadsarmy says:

    AndrewFraeGovan

    Yes, the SNP can keep its policies intact, and the SG/SNP can hold the right / centre / left ground of total inclusiveness: “It’s not what we think, it’s what YOU think”.

    Yes. If Labour / Tory / LibDem aren’t prepared to put forward their policies for an independent Scotland, the SG can do it for them – and take all the credit :-)

    Or the YES campaign, with full co-operation from the SG.

      

  71. dadsarmy says:

    There’s a lot of talk about the debate still not having started. Well, if the Unionists aren’t prepared to have one about the benefits of IN the Union as opposed to being OUT of the Union, we just turn the whole thing into a debate about WHAT we’re going to do with our independence.

    Basically speaking, just kidnap the whole debate.

      

  72. Rod Macfarlane says:

    Thanks for this Stu… I had been thinking for quite some time about doing a piece on this, but you have done a much more comprehensive article than I possibly might have done. Excellent.
    It does certainly provide a lot of food for thought, and is well worth considering. I believe that Barruso basically got caught up between UK and Spanish manoeuvring on this subject…It could easily come back and haunt him.
    I don’t believe for one second that the EU would want us out, and certainly not the Spanish..they have enough problems on their hands if they lose Catalonia. To lose Scotland would be a total disaster for their fishing fleet. Watch out for riots!
    I think the SNP have been far too desperate to please here,and should have played more coy. Now is their chance to up to the pressure. I suspect most of Scotland would be in support of them doing so now.

      

  73. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Thanks for this Stu… I had been thinking for quite some time about doing a piece on this, but you have done a much more comprehensive article than I possibly might have done”

    I clearly need to find a way of making the bylines on this site more prominent.
    ;)

      

  74. dadsarmy says:

    What it amounts to perhaps is a confidence issue. It’s already been said that the SNP were / are just reacting to the Better Together campaign, slurs, insults, lies. Now they’re doing the same with the EU, Rompuy, others, and Barroso. Perhaps what the Scottish Government should do, instead of running over to Brussels like poodles, is call Barroso before the Scottish Government, in Holyrood, to explain himself.

    What the SNP need to remember is that for 40 years or more they have kept the flame of Independence alive. In 2007 they got themselves a minority Government – and made it work. So well, that in 2011 they got themselves a maoprity government against all the odds – and are making it work. They are still popular even now (of course a lot of peopls also hate Salmond and the SNP).

    They are dealing constanly with issues that aren’t even devolved. Against a hostile Westminster government, not only now, but between 2007-2011. What on earth is not to be proud of and confident about there?

    Stop running SNP – many Scots are behind you.

      

  75. velofello says:

    Whilst the SNP need to work the political abacus on what to say, how to respond etc.,we don’t here. Credit to Scott Minto -again -on the EFTA issue.
    EFTA does appear to be an option to be fully teased out and I hope this dialogue continues and so encourages observers currently of Wings’ debates to take part. Identifying options other than the EU is the way to go.
    Sitting back and expecting the Scottish Government alone to deal with the lies and distortions won’t do.

     

      

  76. dadsarmy says:

    Sitting back and expecting the Scottish Government alone to deal with the lies and distortions won’t do.”

    Who expects that – on forums at least? There’s a few here active on various forums – amongst others I even ventured on the Scotsman – something which really needs a strong stomach, and recovery time after. I’m afraid I’m not up the Mail or Telegraph!

    As for making our views known, even contrarian ones, in fact specially contrarian ones - I hope and expect that the SNP / SG have researchers spidering through forums, picking up the odd opinion here, the odd one there. If not – well, they should. They’re good at consultations on the scot.gov website, and were during the 2007 consultations. I doubt they got worse at the job.

      

  77. NorthBrit says:

    @velofello
    Thanks – I enjoyed your posts too (although I’m holding you responsible if every time I watch something like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwnBmoyZus0 Johann’s coupon appears unbidden in my subconscious).

    Do you have a French connection?
     

      



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