Yesterday I confirmed that the European Parliament petitions committee had formally opened Forward as One’s petition on Scotlands membership of the EU as an independent nation to public signatures of support.
Since its launch only 24 hours ago, the petition has attracted great scrutiny and is now in the top 10 petitions before the parliament in terms of support with over 4400 signatures as of 2 am on the 16th of January.
The purpose of this article is to go into a little bit more detail about the aims of the petition and what it is all about.
Ending the Unionist Myth about EU Queue.
As most of you will be aware, there were several items hurled at the Yes campaign during the 2014 referendum with regards to membership of the EU. The first was about a mythical queue and the second was with regards to Scotland having to rejoin the EU rather than simply stay within it.
The first of these myths, namely the “queue” was addressed in the New Direction article here. In a nutshell, the queue of which they speak isn’t actually a queue, it’s simply a natural time limit which depends on the individual country which is seeking to join the EU and how long it takes them to bring themselves into regulatory alignment with EU policy. There are only a handful of items which Scotland doesn’t comply with and we addressed how easily they could be overcome in that article.
The second item is with regards to “re-application” or staying in the EU. During the 2014 referendum, the Unionists asserted that Scotland would be kicked out of the EU and would have to re-apply for membership. The yes campaign asserted that we could stay in the EU and simply renegotiate our membership under what is called Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty. However, the Yes campaign faced a big question mark in that in order for that to happen, we’d need to know how the EU would see Scotland after independence, whether it would regard both Scotland and what was left of the UK as two knew states or whether the rUK would take precedence over Scotland, being classified as a successor state and Scotland would have to re-apply. This was a big question mark which was born out of EU countries not wanting to take a stance either way and interfere in the internal politics of the UK.
However, Brexit has created an entirely new dynamic. Not only has it changed how Scotland is perceived by the EU but it has also excluded the UK from consideration when it comes to Scotlands membership in the Bloc. There are no longer any concerns over interference in UK politics because the UK is leaving the EU, Scotland wants to stay. Unlike 2014 where the rUK, after independence, would have continued within the EU, now they are leaving. That means that there is an opportunity for Scotland, if it chooses independence before the end of the Brexit negotiations, to be classified as the successor state of the UK if the EU will allow it, effectively taking its place with a modified treaty at the EU table without ejection from the bloc.
There have been indications in recent weeks that the EU would be open to Scotland taking the UK’s place at the table if it voted for independence before the conclusion of Brexit but this has been indicated by a number of EU politicians themselves, not the bloc as a whole. This is separate to the work of Forward as Ones attempts for the last year to bring greater clarity over the matter of the membership of Scotland in the EU after independence. If Brexit has taught us one thing, it is that constitutional matters should be based on empirical evidence and I have sought to try and bring greater clarity on a number of points with regards to Independence and the EU. There can be no clearer way of doing that than having the European Parliament rule on the matter officially.
In 2018, I submitted, on behalf of Forward as One, the petition below for consideration to the EU. Unfortunately, due to the negotiations over Brexit, that petition was held up from being opened to signatures. It has since been refined and after a number of communications, it has now been opened up for any EU to support it, going live in the last 48 hours.
So what does it mean?
Well! In a nutshell, the petition calls on the EU to call a vote in the European Parliament and the subject of that vote is the route Scotland would take if it voted for Independence. Simply put, Forward as One are asking the elected chamber of the European Parliament to back a motion which will state that Scotland may “renegotiate” to “remain” in the European Union if it decides to vote to leave the United Kingdom before the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations OR where the UK decides to go down the no-deal route.
Essentially, we are asking the European Parliament to vote to allow Scotland to remain in the European Union (without leaving) if it votes for Independence, to save it from being dragged out of the EU against its will and until such time as a new treaty agreement is signed by Scotland it would remain in the EU under the same rules that it currently has. This would not only give clear guidance on Scotlands membership when it takes the leap for independence but it would show once and for all that the European Union wants Scotland to remain if that be the will of the Scottish People.
This would protect Scottish Citizens living in Europe and European citizens here in Scotland. It would safeguard Scots freedom of movement, keep us in the European Convention on Human Rights (which is a requirement of EU membership) and Scottish citizens would retain all rights and privileges as we have now both here and in the EU and EU citizens in Scotlands rights would be protected here.
It would also end the Unionists claims that Scotland would have to re-apply for EU membership permanently, meaning there would be no uncertainty about EU membership when the Second Independence Referendum is called.
As for the assertion that independence would be leaving the UK, or as unionists like to put it “leaving Scotlands greatest trading partner to join its second one”, that is the single most stupid idea I have ever heard in my life. Let’s not beat around the bush, as a member of the EU, Scotland would have a lot of power with regards to the UK’s future relationship with the European Union. If the UK wanted to act out of malice it would find that it would get a size nine boot from the EU bloc as a whole. My proof of this can be summed up in the power that Ireland currently has in the Brexit negotiations.
The second matter is with regards to securing borders with a non-EU state next to us (England). Well! We live on an island, it’s not an issue and the deal which will be created between Ireland and Northern Ireland can easily be applied to Scotland/England. We already have a common travel area at the moment with Ireland which was around along time before the EU existed. Ultimately, however, the question of a hard border is a misnomer, the people decide who they interact with, not the Government and ultimately there are English people in Scotland and vice versus. The people will not allow a hard border and the fact that we are on an island actually makes the situation quite easy for the EU because Scottish Ports and Airports can efficiently deal with immigration to stop those from the rUK crossing into the EU without appropriate visas etc.
As for goods and services, well having Scotland in the EU will actually help England, it means they have another EU partner on the same land mass, which will make import of certain goods and services a lot easier. It’s also absolutely ridiculous for any person to assert that any country (England), especially one that will be desperate for trading partnerships post #brexit would choose to cut itself off from its next-door neighbour and even if it wanted to, it would be prohibited from doing so if it wants to access the EU market because Scotland would be part of that market!
But if we are to take EU membership to the Scottish Electorate as part of the message for Independence, we need clarity. As EU citizens we still have the right to ask questions of the European Parliament and that is exactly what we are doing. We’re seeking the European Parliament to give us total clarity over being allowed to stay in the EU and the exact route we would need to take to stay in the EU after independence. Unlike Brexit, that means our electorate would actually have the information to hand in order to render their decision and that can only be a good thing.
The petition is live on the EuroParl website and is open for signatures, not just from Scotland but from every citizen of the European Union. We ask that everyone sign it that can, regardless of where you are from. The more signatures, the more seriously the European Parliament will take it. But don’t underestimate the importance of signing this. It could be, if people don’t support it, the last time you will ever have the opportunity to actively engage with the European Parliament or to exercise your democratic rights as a citizen of the EU.
In order to take part, you must do two things. The first thing is to set up an account for yourself on the EuroParl website and the second is to sign the document. Click the first link and complete the form, check your email. Then come back to this site and click the second link.
The guidance is below.
Step One: Setup Account:
You can do this by clicking here: https://petiport.secure.europarl.europa.eu/petitions/en/registration/register#registerFrm
- Important – You may have to click a confirmation link sent to your email to confirm your identity.
Now! Point to note, when you sign up, it is going to ask you to declare your nationality and unfortunately the UK being the signatory to the EU treaties, that nationality is going to have to come under “United Kingdom” and “British” but think of it as one of the last times you are going to have to do it. Please don’t let that declaration dull your resolve to sign because this is extremely important.
Step Two: Support the petition clicking the link “Click to Support” below.
Once you have set up your account, you can then click the following link and click “Support Petition”. Click here to support: Click to Support
Once you have added your support you will receive a confirmation email.