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Scotland: part of EFTA instead of EU membership?

Last week Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for the Scottish Parliament to vote on whether the executive should seek a Section 30 order to allow Scotland to legislate for a referendum

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission chief spokesman, said that the Barroso doctrine would apply if Scotland was to become independent, which would mean “If a country becomes independent it is a new state and has to negotiate with the EU.”
Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission chief spokesman, said that the Barroso doctrine would apply if Scotland was to become independent, which would mean “If a country becomes independent it is a new state and has to negotiate with the EU.”

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by N. Peter Kramer

Last week Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for the Scottish Parliament to vote on whether the executive should seek a Section 30 order to allow Scotland to legislate for a referendum, arguing, “It should be up to the Scottish Parliament to determine the second independence referendum’s timing.”

Today news shows that Sturgeon probably will abandon her policy of an independent Scotland rejoining the EU and instead argue for Scotland to be part of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), which includes Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The radical change comes as a survey for The Times found that over a quarter of those who voted for independence in 2014 voted Leave in last year’s Brexit vote. The poll also showed 57% of Scottish voters want to remain in the UK, against 43% who want to leave, when excluding “don’t knows.”

This follows comments from Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis who told reporters yesterday, “If, under mutual agreement and in accordance with the applicable constitutional regime in the UK, Scotland ended up being independent, our thesis is that it cannot remain in the EU.” He added that Scotland “would have to join the queue, meet the requirements for [EU] accession and enter negotiations.” Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission chief spokesman, said that the Barroso doctrine would apply if Scotland was to become independent, which would mean “If a country becomes independent it is a new state and has to negotiate with the EU.”

Anyhow, Scotland's independence doesn't look, economically, as a bright perspective.. Thanks to the collapse in the global price of oil, Scottish dependence on North Sea oil resulted in a 97% decline in Scottish oil revenues in 2015-16 to $73million from a year earlier. The drop resulted in a budget deficit of nearly $20 million or about 9.5% of its GDP! 

Separately, referring to Sturgeon’s calls for a second Scottish independence referendum, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said, "This is not a moment to play politics or create uncertainty. It is a moment to bring our country together, to honour the will of the British people and to shape for them a better, brighter future and a better Britain."

Prime Minister May stepped up to pressure the Scottish leader, accusing her of forcing a fundamentally 'unfair' independence referendum that would damage the Brexit negotiations.

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