I originally wrote this article for the ‘Independent Scot’ website in April 2013, in the run up to Scotland’s 2014 Independence Referendum. As it has become topical once again; with the EU referendum just around the corner; I have decided to publish it again here. RG
The pro-unionist hysteria over Scotland’s membership of the EU has somewhat subsided, or at least it should have – given that Cameron has exposed himself as a two-faced hypocrite. On the one hand, he used the possible scenario of an independent Scotland not receiving automatic membership of EU (becoming a so-called ‘fax democracy’) as an opportunity to chide Salmond and attack the case for Scottish independence; whilst on the other hand he was formulating plans to hold a referendum on whether the UK should actually remain within the EU itself!
Interestingly, the Telegraph – widely accepted as being a pro-Tory paper, complicit in fanning the flames of unionist rhetoric against Scottish independence – published an article in January 2013, titled ‘Norway’s ‘fax democracy’ is nothing for Britain to fear’. This article actually bolsters the case for nations having more influence in European political matters from outside the EU; and also denounces Cameron for his clear lack of understanding on the matter. I’m sure this article was not intended as a piece to support Scotland’s potential non-EU status, but it does so rather well.
Using Norway as an example could not have been more pertinent; given the similarities between our two countries. Only, Norway benefited fully from the discovery of North Sea oil and gas in the 1960s – unlike Scotland! As a result, Norway is currently the second richest nation on earth, with the fourth highest GDP (per capita). With a population around the same as Scotland’s, Norway demonstrates how much better off Scotland could be as a small independent nation with oil and gas reserves. Like Norway, if Scotland was not a member of the EU – by default or by choice – it would not be the end of the world. Far from it! In actual fact we would have more influence over European matters, as a member of more senior bodies, without being bound by EU rules. As it stands The EU, with its 28 constituent states, still only counts as a single vote when dealing with global bodies such as the International Labour Organisation or the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Often, the UK has to go along with EU decisions which damage its national interests – whereas Norway has a vote of their own within such organisations, wholly representative of their nation’s interests. Just as an independent Scotland would have.
As columnist Christopher Brooker puts it, ‘A recent EFTA report shows that more than 90 per cent of the laws of the single market in fact originate from UN or other global bodies. Norway has more influence in drafting these than Britain, which simply has to accept the “common position” agreed within the EU.’
Therefore, if Norway’s ‘fax democracy’ is nothing for Britain to fear then surely it is, likewise, nothing for an independent Scotland to fear?
So, rather than debating over whether Scotland will be a member state of the EU, post-independence, perhaps the real debate should be whether we actually want to be?