Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Claims on EU opt-outs and special deals not credible

The Scottish Affairs Committee publishes its report into the Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Scotland's Membership of the European Union (EU). 

Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee warns that a separate Scotland would face protracted and uncertain negotiations when attempting to secure its position in the European Union, and that while it is likely that it would eventually be accepted as a Member state, it is not credible that it would emerge with the benefits it now enjoys as part of the UK in the EU.

Complex negotiations would be required, with both the UK and the EU, and any agreement would have to be ratified by 28 Member States. There is no evidence or precedent to support the notion that Scotland would get better terms than any of the other recent applicant countries.

Interim period outside EU

The Committee believes that a separate Scotland is more likely to have interim period outside EU than to complete UK/EU negotiations and processes of joining within its self-imposed timeline of 18 months. It is likely Scotland will lose all or most of the special arrangements presently enjoyed as part of the UK:

  • Budget rebate, the loss of which will cost each Scottish household around £900 over the Budget period. Scotland will have to pay part of the UK rebate
  • Opt out from promise to join the Euro
  • VAT charges for which the UK has negotiated opt outs - on food, children’s clothes, books and newspapers –at a standard rate of 15% or a minimum rate of 5%
  • CAP farm payments at a higher rate than given to accession states
  • Loss of valuable EU structural funds currently redirected to Scotland through the UK
  • Opt outs from Justice and Home Affairs

Discriminate against students

In addition, it is inconceivable that the UK and other EU member states will allow Scotland to discriminate against UK students on tuition fees. 

Some negotiations with the EU, eg on Schengen, will be dependent on an agreement with the UK on mutually acceptable immigration policies, thus affecting the timetable.
Today Scotland’s interests in the European Union are represented by the UK which, as one of the largest Member States, has the voting power and leverage to influence decisions to the benefit of Scotland. A separate Scotland would lose this advantage.
The UK government and EU authorities have ruled out allowing Scotland to use the legal mechanism it proposes for joining the EU (Article 48), which makes it almost impossible that the Scottish Government’s self-imposed accession timetable could be met.

Chair's comments

Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"It seems the Scottish Government has drastically under-estimated the time, complexity and cost of negotiating a new position in the EU, as well as the factors weighted against Scotland in any such negotiations. 
It is likely that a separate Scotland would have its application to join the EU accepted – but not on the timetable or terms that the Scottish Government wants. It is simply not credible that the Scottish Government would achieve the terms of entry that it seeks and especially not from the weakened position of its self-imposed deadline. The Scottish Government has not acknowledged the true scale of the difficulty it will encounter in seeking better terms than have been achieved by other recent applicants.

The people of Scotland deserve to be told the truth about the costs and difficulties or re-joining the EU if Scotland votes to leave the UK – and thus the EU.
We believe that the Scottish Government cannot meet its negotiating objectives within the timetable it has promised.
The people should be told by the Scottish Government which concessions will be made and what the costs will be. Will the timetable for Independence slip or will there be a period outside the EU? What is their Plan B?"

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