By even agreeing to meet with Nicola Sturgeon Jean Claude Juncker and Martin Schultz have broken the convention that the EU will only engage with states. This is a huge shift and miles away from what the EU was saying prior to the 2014 referendum.
This has cheered supporters of Scottish independence who claim Scotland is already being treated as an independent country. Well, that’s not exactly accurate and these meetings with the EU’s top brass are not without their critics, chief among them Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
This, of course, is because he sees Scotland and its potential independence as a huge threat as he has denied Catalonia a referendum . It goes without saying this is profoundly undemocratic but if Scotland can hold independent negotiations with the EU it it could be a green light for Catalonia to do the same. To expect anything less than negativity from Rajoy would have been extremely naive. This could cause a major headache for the Scottish government as every nation has to agree for a nation to join the EU and Rajoy would be the first to object.
There is definitely sympathy towards our position in the European Parliament, you only need to see the standing ovation MEP Alyn Smith received as he asked his fellow MEPs not to let Scotland down to see that. Few would have known the name a couple of days ago but many more do now. Juncker’s assertion that Scotland has the right to be heard shows that the tide may be turning – but there is a long way to go. We certainly can’t take it for granted that the EU will get behind Scotland and at some point Nicola Sturgeon is going to have to bluntly ask Juncker if Scotland will be allowed straight back into the EU if it goes independent. The answer could be a game changer.
Personally I visited Brussels and the EU institutions last year and I’m really sad that we no longer want to be part of it. It seemed to be a very inclusive place where people worked together and genuinely wanted to make positive changes. There was also a real feeling of people and nations coming together as equals which is hugely important and something Britain would do well to learn from.
We spoke a lot on the trip about how under reported the EU is. All parliamentary sessions are available for free to the media but British media seems to ignore it and not use it. Perhaps if it hadn’t been so under reported people may have understood it better and been able to make a better informed choice.
Now read – Return of the tories