Sunday, 19 January 2014

EU or not EU? We'll gain either way with a 'Yes'!

A more appropriate title for this blog would be 'EU or EFTA', for they are the only two realistic positions an independent Scotland would find itself in come the 25th of March 2016. But, regardless of which path we take, voting Yes will leave our country better off in regards to Europe, and we're going to show you why.

Don't let Westminster decide everything for you, take charge of your own country!
Scotland as a full member of the EU
At present, Scotland, population 5.3 million, has 6 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). By comparison, Independent Lithuania, population 3 million, has 12 MEPs. This is due to the Nice Treaty (which you can read about here). Despite being smaller, independence gives Lithuania twice as much influence as we have and they are looking to increase their influence further.
Independence is better for Lithuania.
The European Parliament isn't the only place where independent nations gain. At present, Scotland isn't directly represented in the Council of the European Union either, and thus we control 0 votes. The Independent Republic of Ireland, home to 4.6 million people, has 7 votes (2% of the total with less than 1% of the population). It also held the presidency of the Council from the 1st of January to the end of June last year. Being independent gives Ireland influence at the top table, and leaves us behind with the other regions.
Independence is better for the Republic of Ireland.

Independence not only affects representation, but how policies are applied across Europe. At present, Scotland receives the equivalent of €130 per hectare for Pillar 1 payments under the common agricultural policy. Independent Denmark, despite having an eligible area that is half the size of Scotland's, receives one and a half times as much money (almost three times the rate that Scottish Farmers receive). The gap is equally startling for Pillar 2 payments, with €24 per hectare for Denmark and only €9 per hectare for Scotland. Being independent gives Denmark the opportunity to advance the interests of its farmers.

Independence is better for Denmark.

The only counterargument offered by the no campaign against the principle of an independent Scotland being a direct member of the EU is that we would become so wealthy, our contribution to the common fund would increase. It's like arguing that we should keep giving away £15 to Westminster for no added return because otherwise we'd be giving £5 to the EU: losing £5 and gaining £15 is still a better deal than the nothing Westminster is offering.

All of these are a form of EU membership.  Where we fit in will ultimately be up to us when we vote Yes
Scotland as a member of the EFTA
It appears increasingly likely that, despite what the people of Scotland may wish, the UK will be leaving the EU in the near future. EU Membership is unlikely to be an option under Westminster.
But an Independent Scotland has a distinct advantage over the rest of the UK under these circumstances. We have the option to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a group of small, independent nations which already has longstanding free-trade agreements with the EU.
"An independent Scotland would be welcomed into the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) if it could not secure EU membership...EFTA spokesman, Tom Gronningsater, said that EFTA membership offered “several advantages” to Scotland." EU Observer, 12th November 2012
This arrangement would have no negative impacts on business trade for companies operating in Scotland (something which the UK can't promise after it's referendum). EFTA membership also includes a free-trade agreement with non-EU countries including Canada, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea. Scott Minto from Wings Over Scotland covers this point in more detail here.
Westminster is much more limited. They would need to negotiate agreements from scratch and the loss of all of their MEPs will have an affect on London's influence. And whilst headlines such as 'We need to stay in the European Union - or risk losing up to £92bn a year' do ignore the reality that Westminster would come to some type of agreement with the EU, it is hard to image that the price for protecting the City of London will be cheap for anyone outside the M25.

"Please, Better Together...don't tell me any more about the positive case for the union...anything but that!!"
Despite the 'Rainbow of Scares' coming from the no campaign, with their predictions ranging from we'll be left out in the cold to Brussels will take us over in a 300 year old scheme to dominate England, the EU wants Scotland to be a full and equal member (alongside other nations). Even a senior MEP from England stated that the democratically expressed will of the people is what matters, which is what we'll get in September.
EU or not EU? Scotland will be better off either way because making decision for ourselves and putting our interests first, also known as Independence, is better for Scotland.
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