Arc of Prosperity

Scottish Independence within the EU – with a Scandinavian Slant

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Barroso does an Osborne

EC President José Manuel Barroso taking the floor
EC President José Manuel Barroso taking the floor, a photo by European Parliament on Flickr.
In my recent post about Osborne’s bullying session in Edinburgh, I wrote:

By ignoring [the alternatives to a currency union] and by failing to explain why rUK politicians would opt for a solution that might harm rUK businesses, he shows that his sole purpose is scaremongering. He didn’t make this speech to provide visibility for rUK businesses (which would have been prudent), but to bully Scottish voters into voting No.

This morning the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, opted for a very similar approach when he was interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show:

Of course it will be extremely difficult to get the approval of all the other member states to have a new member coming from one member state… I believe it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, a new member state coming out of one of our countries getting the agreement of the others.

As many EU experts have discussed at length in the past, there is no precedent for this type of situation, and there are many options available to the EU in order to reach a pragmatic compromise that everybody can live with — see for instance Yves Gounin’s article, either my summary or the full translation.

Indeed, as Yves Gounin writes, the EU has a lot to lose too:

As soon as the Rubicon of independence has been crossed Europe would have everything to lose by putting these states into quarantine: its entrepreneurs could no longer invest there; its young people could no longer study there; its workers could no longer travel freely there; its fishing fleet could no longer fish in their waters, etc…

Barroso is a spokesman for the governments of the EU member states. He’s not elected to represent the European Parliament nor the EU Court of Justice. It’s therefore hardly a big surprise that he finds it hard to resist when he gets asked by David Cameron or Mariano Rajoy to lend them a wee hand, especially given that his stint as Commission President comes to an end in early summer, so dealing with a Scottish Yes vote will be somebody else’s problem anyway.

It’s therefore very clear that Barroso has done an Osborne, trying to bully the Scottish (and Catalan) voters to reject independence rather than expressing an informed opinion about what actually will happen after a Yes vote.

Actually excluding Scotland from the EU would not just go completely against the Union’s founding principles, it would also deeply harm the EU and its citizens, as well as quite possibly being illegal according to EU law. In the past, the EU has always found a pragmatic solution when needed rather than adopting a legalistic approach.

Osborne and Barroso both want us to believe that they’ll cut off their noses to spite their faces after a Yes vote. In reality, they’re just trying to bully us into voting No.

18 thoughts on “Barroso does an Osborne

  • Good post. Barroso is a lame duck President and beholden to the EU governments. He also seems to be extremely ignorant. In the interview he mentions Spain’s refusal to recognize Kosovo as a parallel with Scotland. Yet the Spanish government has repeatedly stated that there is no comparison between the situations of Scotland and Kosovo. Pure bluster and scaremongering from the usual suspects.

    • Exactly! I don’t think he would be as cocksure if he expected to be Commission President in October, because he’d then have to do the exact opposite of what he’s been threatening.

  • Bugger (the Panda)

    Barosso’s term is finished very shortly and so anything he says much be viewed with respect to what is best for Mr Barosso and not the EU as a whole.
    As far as I know there are no Laender in Germany or regions of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Austria, Estonis, Latvia or Lithuania or even Portugal, with a desire to have independence.
    The states who have potential problems as Spain, at least two regions, Italy with a North South divide and possibly a reunification with Austria, France with Corsica and of course Belgium, which is effectively two separate units at the moment which share the same flag and precious little else.
    Even Portugal, his home port, seems happy to stay as one.

    Barosso is just seeking to build up favours in his quest for his next gravy train appointment.

    Buggins turn, and if Scotland can be used to help that, he doesn’t give a shit. He probably believes it is not going to happen so there will be no repercussions to his interfering. He is in for one great big shock and has created a nation, more or less, which hates his guts. I do.

    • Yes, I agree that Barroso has a vested interest in sucking up to Cameron and Rajoy rather than stating the advice he must be getting from his legal team.

      BTW, although Germany isn’t often mentioned in this connexion, there are people in Bavaria advocating independence, and if Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders led the way, I think they might follow.

      • Bugger (the Panda)

        Thomas, I have no sense that Bavaria would want to secede from The Fereral Republic of Germany. The clue is in the name.

        Bavaria is pivotal to the politics and economy of Germany anf the Federal constitution ensures they have loads more powers than Scotland as well as locally retained wealth.

        The Bavarians jokingly talk of themselves as being the Italians of Germany. By that they mean not po faced Lutherans, hedonists, bonne viveurs yes, but not pasta eaters.

        Federalism could have worked in the UK if it had been started after the War but it is too late now. Ironic that the Federal structure of Germany was the model propsed and pushed by the British to ensure it never became a centrally driven powerhouse again. The irony.

  • You are an EU citizen resident in another EU country. According to Barroso, Scotland would be expelled from the EU in the event of a Yes vote. Presumably then you would lose your right of residence in Scotland.

    Would it be possible for you to request the Danish government to approach the EU and enquire about the rights of Danish citizens in Scotland in the event of a Yes vote?

    • I could, but I doubt I would achieve anything. In my experience most politicians try to be friendly with current politicians in other countries, so until we vote Yes, we shouldn’t expect a lot of help from abroad.

    • Bugger (the Panda)

      As we would still have the right to retain a UK passport, how could Barosso’s claim that we would be outside the EU, and thus
      be enacted?

      Certainly if later Cameroon had a In/Out referendum on the EU and the vote was to leave, the situation would be even more muddied.

      The EU would move Heaven and Earth to head off that one.


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