EU chief offers ‘little’ hope of swift bloc accession for Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon announces planned date for second referendum
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Nicola Sturgeon’s hopes of an independent Scotland joining the European Union have been dashed by a Vice-President of the European Parliament. Katarina Barley said Scotland would not be given special treatment despite it having been part of the European Union before Brexit.
Ms Sturgeon has said she would like an independent Scotland to join the bloc after the country exited the EU along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Scotland’s First Minister wants a second vote on Scottish independence to take place next year.
A two-day hearing over whether the Scottish Parliament can legislate for a second independence referendum is being held at the Supreme Court.
Ms Sturgeon’s indyref2 push has led some to speculate about Scotland’s future in Europe.
Ms Barley said: “This is an internal Scottish matter, an internal British matter. That’s why we actually promise very little.
“But anyone who witnessed the farewell of the British MEPs from the European Parliament – which was very, very emotional – and who heard the speeches there, knows that at least in Parliament, a heart beats for Scotland.”
The SPD politician said Europe is looking at the return of Scotland “very carefully”, but admitted there were “still a few hurdles” to overcome.
She told news website Deutschlandfunk: “The most important question is, of course, whether this referendum will take place in the first place.”
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YouGov tracking data on an independence vote shows if there was a vote today, the outcome would be identical to that of 2014, with 55 percent saying they would vote No and 45 percent Yes.
Asked if an independent Scotland’s EU membership could be fast tracked, Ms Barley said: “Of course, that too is speculation, but what I’m pretty sure about is going through all the steps that every candidate country has to go through.
“We can also do that to other countries. We could not justify that to other countries, some of which have been waiting for a very long time.
“The only fact is Scotland has already been a member as part of another state and the requirements could probably be met there more quickly.
“The question is: the longer the UK is out of the European Union, the more the previously similar or identical regulations will probably diverge, and the longer it will take.”
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Asked whether Scotland’s position as a net recipient, if it joined the EU, made a difference to the bloc, Ms Barley went on to say companies with headquarters in England could relocate to an independent Scotland.
She added: “It is also conceivable that the economy will boost again when it returns to the domestic market and entrepreneurs can also take advantage of the benefits of the domestic market. I wouldn’t bring that up as the main argument now and we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Meanwhile, justices were told today (October 12) the question of whether the refendum bill is within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament should not be “farmed out” to the Supreme Court.
Sir James Eadie KC, continuing arguments on behalf of the Advocate General for Scotland, told the court a person in charge of a bill at Holyrood must make a “positive” statement that it is within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.
The barrister said this was part of the “pre-legislative safeguards” which exist in law and with the UK Parliament including such a provision so that someone in charge of a bill can “pin their colours to the public mast on competence”.
He said: “It is for the person in charge of the bill to form that view.”
Sir James added it was not “simply to be farmed out to the Supreme Court”.
He said this would be inviting justices “to in effect provide advice to the person in charge of the bill and or the law officer”.
Challenging the Lord Advocate’s arguments over her reference of a proposed independence bill, he asked: “Where is the limit on her case?
“Suppose the Scottish Government have an early draft of a bill? … What if there isn’t a bill at all and they simply have an abstract policy idea?”
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