Europe

Sturgeon’s sovereignty hopes shattered as Scotland ‘would have to adopt euro’ with EU

Nicola Sturgeon should 'get on with it' says Alex Salmond

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On Wednesday, Scotland broke its all-time record for the most COVID-19 cases recorded in a single day for the second time this week. The Scottish First Minister reacted to the news by urging caution, but noting that the impact of the vaccine was “still clear”. Taking to Twitter, she wrote: “Today’s reported Covid figures show a further increase – however, the vaccination impact is still clear.

“Vaccines are now doing much of the work we needed heavy restrictions to do in the last wave.

“And thankfully, we continue to see a much lower burden of serious illness.”

Scotland has been one of the worst hit areas of the UK by the pandemic, with cities like Glasgow transforming into variant hotspots.

While the health crisis rages on, Ms Sturgeon and her Scottish National Party (SNP) quietly work on plans for a second independence referendum.

One of the Scottish Government’s biggest grievances with being a part of the UK is its claim that it does not have full decision-making powers on issues that affect it.

Independence, Ms Sturgeon argues, would allow Scotland to take control and manoeuvre its own political and economic future.

She has also made clear her intentions of taking an independent Scotland into the EU, a point which many say contradicts a pro-independence sovereignty argument.

A Government white paper drawn up and published just before the first independence referendum could further harm Ms Sturgeon’s independence hopes and logic.

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Compiled by the Economic Affairs Committee, the paper’s intention was not to make a pro or anti-independence argument, but to weigh up the economic implications for the wider UK – notably England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It noted that Scotland’s hopes of rejoining the EU – not mentioning the potential rejection of any membership bid – would undoubtedly force the country to adopt the euro as its national currency, stripping Scotland of at least one aspect of its sought after sovereignty.

Supposing Scotland voted “Yes” to leaving the UK in 2014, the paper said: “It would be followed by a long period of negotiation between the Government of Scotland and that of the rest of the UK on a whole host of issues included in the list of questions above.

“That process might last for years, said Professor John Kay of Oxford University and other witnesses.

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“Moreover, the [then] President of the European Commission, Mr Jose Manuel Barroso, also made clear to us that a newly-independent Scotland would not automatically remain a member of the European Union.

“Some EU foreign ministers, including the Spanish, have since expressed agreement.

“If Scotland wanted membership, it would have to apply and negotiate terms.

“A newly independent Scotland would not inherit some of the special terms with Europe that currently apply to the United Kingdom, for example its opt-out from the euro.”

Despite this, members of the SNP have continued to peddle the line that Scotland would not have to adopt the euro, with Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, having assured voters they would not have to use the currency in 2019.

Yet the EU has repeatedly confirmed that joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism isn’t voluntary, with former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker having said in 2018: “The euro is meant to be the single currency of the European Union as a whole.

“All but two of our member states are required and entitled to join the euro once they fulfil the conditions.”

If an independent Scotland seeking to sign up to the EU refused to adopt the euro, it would find itself “not fully compatible” with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – a key piece of EU law.

All of this is on the assumption that the EU would even welcome an independent Scotland.

Tensions exist between countries like Spain and the autonomous community of Catalonia, which wants to join the EU as an independent state.

Others, like the historian Robert Tombs, have noted that the EU would not want to stir further bad blood between itself and the UK post-Brexit by allowing Scotland to join.

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