"Scotland provides EU with opportunity for reform", says Scottish academic

Scottish academic with german perspective makes case for inalienable EU rights for Scots

Any attempt to block Scotland’s accession to the European Union (EU) would risk violating the rights of Scots and the ethos of the EU, according to a series of papers written by a Germany-based Scottish academic.

Mark Dawson is a professor of European law and governance at the Hertie School of Governance with many years of experience in researching the relationships between states and their rights.

In an article in EurActiv Deutschland he cited his research and commented on the material benefits that would accrue to the European community if it accepted Scotland remaining in the EU. 

Dawson said: “This cautious attitude should be rejected for legal as well as ethical reasons.

“Legally Scotland are five and a half million inhabitants EU citizens, and as such they enjoy the rights conferred by EU citizenship.”

“There is little doubt that Scotland meets all the necessary criteria for EU membership.” Professor Mark Dawson

Since the Brexit vote on 23 June,First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made overtures of the EU and its constituent governments and political figures.

Hoping to ensure that the 62 per cent vote in Scotland to remain in the EU is respected and enforced, she recently met with officials from Gibraltar on Wednesday to look for cooperation on both states staying within the EU.

However, Spanish and French leaders on Wednesday 29 June rejected any possibility of Scotland having a separate role in talks between Britain and the European Union after the Brexit vote. Spain has consistently opposed Scottish independence for fear its own separatists, especially in Catalonia, its richest region, would claim a crucial precedent, while France has taken a hard line on Britain's departure.

Professor Dawson disagreed with French President Francois Hollande’s and EU President Donald Tusk’s notion that because Scotland was a constituent part of the UK then it had no legitimacy in taking part in negotiations. 

"Scotland could now be a way for Europe to open up a path to save at least something from the wreckage of Brexit.” Professor Mark Dawson

Dawson elaborated: “The enjoyment of these rights is not an ‘internal British affair’, as Donald Tusk recently said, but a matter for the Union (EU) itself. 

“There is little doubt that Scotland meets all the necessary criteria for EU membership. 

“The EU should therefore consider immediately that Scotland has the capacity to remain in the EU existing without new accession process.”

Dawson holds degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen as well as a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence. He has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Global Legal Studies of the University of Wisconsin and a scholar within the Maastricht Centre for European Law. 

He said: “But it can ‘takeover’ institutional rights currently entitled to the UK, until the adoption of a transitional agreement that allows the Scots to retain their existing rights, while the conditions of accession are negotiated.”

In his research he has focused on the relationship in the EU between law and policymaking. 

Further to exploring the EU’s role in fundamental rights protection, he is also researching the implications of EU economic governance for the EU’s constitutional structure.

“Legally Scotland are five and a half million inhabitants EU citizens, and as such they enjoy the rights conferred by EU citizenship.” Professor Mark Dawson

Dawson stated that if the EU wanted to prove itself reformed and stop more anti-European populist victories it could use Scotland as an example. He said:

“The most important point is ethical. The accession of Scotland could be used easily as an example of small states falling victim to the machinations of larger states. 

“Although the EU has shown in the past decade, an alarming tendency to marginalise smaller countries, the case of Scotland represents an opportunity to demonstrate that the EU is a project that serves its citizens, instead of the simplistic calculus of their most powerful members.”

“The SNP Scottish Government is currently exploring every possible option when it comes to protecting Scotland’s place in Europe.” Stephen Gethins MP

He pointed to the options between a British state in political chaos and other populists like Le Pen of the Front National agitating, and said Scotland should provide a chance for reform. 

In the German business daily Handlesblatt, Dawson said: “Scotland could now be a way for Europe to open up a path to save at least something from the wreckage of Brexit.” 

In response Stephen Gethins MP, the SNP’s Europe spokesperson, told CommonSpace: “Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain a member of the EU and the SNP is committed to ensuring that the will of the Scottish people is respected.

“The SNP Scottish Government is currently exploring every possible option when it comes to protecting Scotland’s place in Europe which includes the first meeting of the standing council of experts that has been assembled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday.

“The democratic will of the Scottish people must be recognised and the SNP’s message is absolutely clear: we are serious about protecting Scotland’s interests and our place in the EU.”

Image courtesy of the Scottish Government

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