Scotland’s Route to EU Membership Could Be Challenging after Supreme Court Judgment on Scottish Independence Referendum

Does Westminster give the Scottish government the mandate to hold an independence referendum?

What is the perspective of the Scottish economy inside the UK?

Could Scotland and England remain a united nation?

How could an independent Scotland support itself?

Scotland’s demand for independence from the United Kingdom is both a political and an economic challenge. However, the main matter will be the possibility of joining the EU as an independent nation. Scotland’s route to EU membership will pass through an independence referendum which is not possible after the Supreme Court’s decision.

No Independence Referendum

The UK Supreme Court ruled that Scottish First Minister cannot hold an independence referendum without agreement from Westminster. Accordingly, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for an independence referendum. Court’s bill relates to the future of the union of the UK, so decisions on that matter go to Westminster. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed the denial of Scottish democracy and silenced the voices of the Scottish people.


Scottish Will

Nicola Sturgeon has accused Westminster of disrespecting democracy in Scotland by blocking the route to independence. Four consecutive UK prime ministers have refused Sturgeon’s request for another independence referendum. The only way for the Scottish people to express their will could be an independence referendum. Scottish people cannot rely on the UK’s financial prosperity in the coming years. However, Scotland’s route to EU membership could be harder after the Supreme Court’s ruling.


Public Services

Many people inside the UK could fall into poverty because there will be economic pressure. The Bank of England has warned that the UK entered the longest recession since the 1930s. The Scottish government has objected that the UK economy has a low-growth, high-inequality model. The UK public services are already recovering from Westminster’s austerity policies. People across the UK have struggled with the impact of soaring inflation while Westminster has failed to address the problems.


EU Membership

The Scottish National Party set out a new economic model for an independent Scotland. Sturgeon believes that Scotland could not rely on Westminster’s economic leadership and only EU membership would secure Scotland’s future prosperity. Scotland’s route to EU membership started in the 2014 independence campaign. The Scottish government had emphasized the importance of continued EU membership. However, as a result of the 2016 Brexit referendum, Scottish people were taken out of the bloc against their will.


Fight for Independence

Brexit reinvigorated Scottish nationalism and made the SNP determined to hold another independence referendum. During the 2021 Holyrood elections, the Scottish government stated that its constitutional objective for Scotland was independence and EU membership. However, Scotland’s route to EU membership is not easy even after a majority vote for independence. An independent Scotland will be a new State under international law and the EU is an inter-governmental organization with entry criteria.


EU Membership Route

Scotland has to follow the EU application process, mentioned in Article 49 of the Treaty on the EU. Scotland’s route to EU membership starts with an application to become a member of the bloc. The Council of the EU and a majority of the European Parliament should approve the application. The application must meet three pillars of the accession criteria. A democratic political system, a functional economy, and an effective administrative and institutional capacity are required.


Westminster’s Failure

The Scottish government has been renewing its economic case for independence. Scotland’s route to EU membership helped the country kick-start economic growth. Scotland’s route to EU membership is not easy, but it is the best path to regain the EU’s economic benefits. The Scottish government has warned of Westminster’s big cuts to public spending and significant tax rises. The UK government aims to fill a so-called black hole in the UK’s public finances.


Economic Potential

The UK factors are making things worse and Brexit is deeply damaging the UK economy. The UK economy is less open and less competitive as a result of Brexit. Despite growing evidence of the damages by the UK model, Westminster is not going to change its approach. The status quo is not allowing Scotland to fulfill its potential while holding the country back. Scotland’s route to EU membership should happen in a way to rebuild its economy.


Geological Capacities

An independent Scotland can take part in new ways for navigating its economy to work better for everyone. Scotland is placed in the north of the UK and has a good position to export and import via maritime transport. An independent Scotland connected to the EU and global markets can provide greener transport capacities into mainland Europe. There are geological resources that are vital to economic developments for Scotland’s route to EU membership.


Ecological Resources

Scotland has an excellent geographical position, a good opportunity for this country to easily reach European countries. UK living standard has fallen fast and inflationary pressures made the recovery of the fragile economy more difficult. Scotland can rely on its renewable and natural resources in the Single Market seven times the size of the UK. The onshore wind, offshore wind, hydro, and solar photovoltaics are Scotland’s major renewable resources. A greener EU will surely need more renewable energy.


Renewable Energy

There is a significant increase in renewable electricity output because of the growing capacity of renewable resources. Renewable electricity capacity had a steady growth in Scotland between 2009 and 2021. Both renewable and low-carbon resources met more than 97% of Scotland’s electricity needs in 2020. Scotland’s renewable energy is replacing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon every year and employs thousands of people. Independent Scotland can freely export green energy to Europe and the rest of the world.


Export Strategies

The Scottish government introduced an economic strategy for an independent Scotland that will increase exports. Accordingly, Scotland will export its renewable energy to EU countries. The government has upgraded Scotland’s major seaports to easily reach mainland Europe. The ports will provide routes for the country’s energy and commodity exports inside the EU Single Market. Scotland’s export commodities include petroleum, petroleum products and related materials, food and drink, and power-generating machinery and equipment.


Strong Scotland

Independent Scotland could freely trade with the EU to get over economic and financial challenges. Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland is determined to develop the low-carbon and renewables sector even further. Scotland accounts for 25% of Europe’s total offshore wind resource and is a global leader across the wind, wave, and tidal. Scotland has reliable resources to depend on. The Scottish government will seek independence while forging a close and constructive membership in the European Union.


Scotland Protests

The Supreme court obstructed Scotland’s route to EU membership. However, the majority of Scottish Parliament members back EU membership. They were chosen by pro-independence supporters who are disappointed that they are not allowed to decide for their future. Many people across Scotland protested the Supreme Court ruling. They have expressed their dissatisfaction with the court’s decision. Westminster and the Supreme Court must respect the Scottish people’s right to decide in a referendum.


An EU Member

An independence referendum would not have an immediate legal consequence. However, it is an important political event related to both Scotland and the UK. The union of Scotland and England started three centuries ago. The UK government passed the Scotland Act in 1998, created the Scottish Parliament, and devolved some powers from Westminster. Scottish nationalists have run the devolved parliament since 2007 and they want Scotland in the EU. An independence referendum will ease Scotland’s route to EU membership.

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