Thursday, April 17, 2014

Is Scotland Ready to Fly Solo?: Lack of Preparation Will Lead to Troubling Outcomes if Scotland Becomes Independent

by Caroline Clasby

Image Source
A rally held to promote an independent Scotland
Will Scotland remain part of the European Union if it secedes from the UK? If not, can it quickly obtain membership with the EU? What currency will it adopt? What will be the future of Scottish or the UK’s economics and businesses? Can Scotland survive without the UK? I say that the Scottish government needs to seriously consider these questions and the resulting different outcomes before voting “yes” to Scottish independence.

On September 18, 2014, there will be a vote on whether or not Scotland will become an independent nation from the UK. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has been working to convince the Scottish people that Scotland needs independence and has been promising the continuity of membership in the EU, economic security, and the British Sterling. However, how much of what the SNP actually promises will come true? Is the Scottish government prepared for secession?

The University of Pittsburgh hosted a videoconference on March 18, 2014, titled “English & Scottish Nationalism.” Several experts from England, Scotland, and the United States spoke about the Scottish referendum and how each of the predicted outcomes could affect Scotland and the UK. Throughout the discussion, the main question was: what would happen if Scotland became independent? The overall consensus was negative.

According to Neill Nugent, Emeritus Professor of Politics and Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration at Manchester Metropolitan University, no one knows exactly what will happen and, unfortunately, the Scottish government is not prepared for the outcomes. If we look at the outcomes that the SNP has promised, I believe Nugent’s statement is right.

First, it is likely Scotland will lose its EU membership and have to reapply like all new nation-states. In fact, the European Commission Chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, has stated numerous times that if Scotland becomes an independent state, it will have to follow the guidelines of the Lisbon Treaty and start at the very beginning of the accession process. If this is the case, Scotland is going to have to consider the challenges it will face to rejoin. For example, Spain is not supportive of Scotland separating from the UK because of Spain’s past dealings with Catalonia wanting to separate.

Second, Scotland needs to consider what will happen to its currency and economics. Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, claims that Scotland will be able to keep the current Sterling even when seceding from the UK. Again, this issue has not been clearly thought out. If Scotland wants to become a member of the EU, it would have to adopt the Euro by law. Plus, BBC interviewed UK Chancellor George Osborne during which Osborne clearly stated that the UK would not let Scotland keep the Sterling. A change in currency and a break from an economy in which Scotland relies on so heavily would leave Scotland and many of its businesses in less stable economic conditions.

Since there is no definitive answer to any of these potential outcomes, the Scottish government clearly needs to fully rethink the secession before jeopardizing its people’s lives.

Caroline Clasby is a first year MAEUS student.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in History and French from the University of Illinois in 2012.  Caroline has been awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to study the Arabic language for the 2013-2014 school year. Additionally, Caroline has spent her last six summers as a technology specialist for her local public school district.  Her hobbies include traveling, shopping, and enjoying a good cup of coffee.

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