HOLYROOD WEEK - Unique position of an independent Scotland

WHAT is Scotland?

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Discuss. This is the crux of the constitutional issue being debated this week and First Minister Alex Salmond and SNP are not coming out with full marks so far.

Is Scotland a country, a nation, a state?

The SNP argue all three are true as Scotland is a part of the UK which is in the European Union and therefore is a current member as Scots are EU citizens.

However, while of course Scotland is a country and a nation, it is not, in its own right, a state otherwise we wouldn't be having this referendum.

All of this will be entirely irrelevant if the country votes not to be an independent state in 2014 and it will be 'as you were Scotland, what was all the fuss about'.

If we do vote yes, then the word from the EU this week, through EC President Jose Manuel Barroso, is Scotland would need to apply for membership.

Then it would be for the other 27 EU member states to decide on entry and on what conditions.

Scotland, whoever is in charge, will not get to decide and then tell the rest of the EU how things are going to be.

The suggestion that Scotland, if it votes to leave the United Kingdom, would continue with the same terms as the UK, a country it has decided it no longer wants to be part of, is surely not feasible.

Equally infeasible is any notion that Scotland would not be admitted to the EU after independence.

The EU wants members, it would surely want Scotland.

It has gone through various expansions since its inception with just six countries, and has accepted applications from many countries who have previously been part of larger states or unions.

BUT, the situation Scotland could find itself in is a unique one. Other countries such as Czech Republic were previously part of larger countries which were not EU members.

So they negotiated with the EU from scratch. Should Scotland as a new state, but part of an existing member do the same? As a newly independent state, probably yes.

Taking decisions for ourselves independent of Westminster is after all the whole point of independence.

There are 22 months till the referendum, which may seem like a long time.

While it may be the only game in town in Holyrood, the EU has much bigger things to deal with, so talks could take a while.

The terms of entry to the EU for an independent Scotland should have been made clear and at the very least the process of how Scotland would become an independent EU member should by now be unambiguous.


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