I was asked by the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, Severin Carrell, to write something about José Manuel Barroso’s remarks about ‘seceding’ states becoming members of the European Union, which suggested that the EU would not automatically accept Scotland as an EU member as a ‘successor state’ to the current United Kingdom. A statement by the Commission President is clearly not determinative of what might hypothetically happen in a few years’ time, let alone what view other EU institutions might take – membership issues will fall ultimately to the European Council to decide. However, Barroso’s statement raises the stakes, raising legal issues (as the ‘state succession’ issue is only part of the legal argument about Scottish EU membership, the other part arising from EU citizenship), as well as political ones. In it, I try to explain the two lines of legal argument, how Barroso’s statement is unhelpful to the SNP’s referendum strategy, and how it seems to reflect a rather narrow view by the Commission of what the EU is about that would seem to be at variance with other activities of the Commission.
The piece has appeared on the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ site, and can be found HERE. To judge from the volume of comments, it has excited a good deal of interest.