Salmond welcomes Cox support for possible EU bid

First Minister endorses comments that EU must accept independent Scotland

Scotland’s deputy first Minister Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister Alex Salmond and former deputy leader of the SNP Jim Sillars campaign with activists in Piershill Square, Edinburgh today. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Scotland’s deputy first Minister Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister Alex Salmond and former deputy leader of the SNP Jim Sillars campaign with activists in Piershill Square, Edinburgh today. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

 

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed comments by Pat Cox that the EU must allow Scotland to join if there is a Yes vote in the forthcoming independence referendum.

Mr Cox, who was the President of the European Parliament for two years, said a Yes vote “will be a free expression of Scotland’s democratic will founded and grounded in the rule of law, constitutionally consensual and deserving respect, including if it votes for independence”.

If the United Kingdom as a whole can accept the fact of independence, the EU must too, Mr Cox said in an opinion piece in The Scotsman newspaper.

Mr Salmond, who is leading the Yes campaign, tweeted the comment piece and added: “Heavyweight backing for an independent Scotland in the EU from former European Parliament President Pat Cox”.

Mr Cox, who stressed he was not taking a position on either side of the independence vote, wrote: “In the event of a Yes vote it should be remembered that the European way has always been as an enabler, not a disabler, of democratic expression and will.

“The European Union’s enlargement policy has been a soft power transformative force for the good, buttressing democracy in state after state in Greece, Portugal, Spain and the member states of Central and Eastern Europe. The European Union is founded on fundamental values: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

The European Commission has continued to stick to its position that a territory which cedes from a member country would no longer be part of the European Union and would have to apply for membership separately.

There is considerable resistance in EU member states to Scotland being given automatic recognition as countries such as Spain have their own issues with separatist movements.

In response to queries relating to Scottish independence, an EU spokesman referred to a letter sent by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso two years ago in which he stated: “If part of the territory of a member state would cease to be part of that state because it were to become a new independent state, the (EU) treaties would no longer apply to that territory.”

In response Mr Cox stated that the EU is founded on the principles of democracy and that EU treaties are advanced through “the principle of sincere co-operation” requiring the Union and its member states “in full mutual respect” to “assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the treaties”.

Mr Cox further stated that no benefits would flow to the EU “ from placing impossible impediments in the way of a smooth EU transition for Scotland as an independent state in its own right”.

There is no precedent for the situation in Scotland in the history of the EU. Mr Cox said that when Germany was unified and Greenland, which was a part of Denmark, left the EU, the EU showed “ pragmatism and inventiveness. It has always respected the expressed democratic will of the peoples involved where this has not been the subject of internal constitutional dissent.

“Neither case is an exact precedent for the Scottish case but both reveal the lengths to which the European institutions and member states were prepared to go to accommodate change that was democratically mandated but not foreseen by the treaties.”

He concluded: “Ensuring Scotland’s continued membership of the EU is in the common interest of people of Scotland, of the wider UK pre or post the referendum, and of the rest of the European Union.”