Scottish citizens head to the polls on 18 September to vote on independence in a referendum. An independent Scotland will play a constructive role in addressing some of the central challenges facing the EU, writes Fiona Hyslop.
Fiona Hyslop is the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs.
It is now only a matter of weeks before the voters of Scotland – including EU citizens resident in Scotland – will decide whether or not Scotland should be an independent country. I am confident that, on 18 September, a majority will vote in favour of that proposition, and that soon after Scotland will take its rightful place in the international family of nations and become an independent member state of the European Union.
It is important that our friends and partners across the EU understand that Scotland’s independent statehood will be achieved through a constitutional and democratic process fully agreed upon with the UK Government. Moreover my government is confident an independent Scotland will play a constructive and progressive role in addressing some of the central challenges facing the EU at this crucial time. As a member state we will work in pursuit of common goals in the best interests of Scotland and the EU as a whole.
The priorities that Mr Juncker has outlined for his forthcoming Commission Presidency very much echo my Government’s own priorities for the future of the European Union.
While sustainable economic growth and competitiveness must be our priority at this challenging time, we agree that this can and must be accompanied by efforts to raise living standards in the poorest regions and ensuring minimum social standards for all workers.
Similarly, plans for the European Energy Union, which will make Europe the home of modern renewable energy and tackle climate change, accord closely with our continued plans for Scotland to be at the heart of a European Union-wide grid for the supply of sustainable energy including offshore wind, wave, and tidal energies as well as carbon capture and storage.
And while we agree that reforms are necessary to ensure EU legislation is neither excessively burdensome nor tackling issues that are better handled by member states, we regard this as readily achievable within the framework of the current EU Treaties and utilising existing legislative procedures.
And we agree the EU cannot only be inward-looking. It is crucial to Europe’s future growth and job-creating potential that the EU continues to pursue international trade policies that develop existing, and create new, opportunities for our exporters – be this in the context of bilateral agreements or within the WTO multilateral trade system.
I firmly believe that the majority of Scottish voters endorse the constructive vision my government has for an independent Scotland inside the EU. And it is a vision that contrasts sharply with the approach taken by the current UK Government - an approach that I believe is fundamentally damaging Scotland’s interests within the EU.
As a government we have made clear we do not support the call for an in/out referendum on EU membership. However despite what we regard to be in the best interests of Scotland, it seems to me there is a growing likelihood the UK could leave the EU within the next few years. This would not be a route chosen by an independent Scotland. Instead we see Scotland’s future as being a strong and vibrant member state within the EU, helping to shape EU legislation and policies that are central to our collective economic and social well-being in the coming years.
In Scotland we want to be in the European Union, we want to play a full role and we want to help develop the European Union of the future.