Karim El-Bar LONDON -:
Open letter signed by over 170 cultural figures in Europe called on EU to make clear independent Scotland could join bloc.
Over 170 cultural figures from across the EU and UK have called on the EU to guarantee Scotland’s membership in the bloc if it votes to become an independent country, in an open letter published in the Guardian on Thursday.
The letter was also published in other European outlets, and is available online translated into 19 European languages.
“We want the people of Scotland to know that Europeans everywhere would welcome them back in the European Union if this is their democratic wish,” they wrote.
In 2016, 62% of Scots voted to remain in the EU, and not a single Scottish district voted to leave. As the UK as a whole decided to leave, Scotland left too in 2020.
The Scottish National Party is a center-left party that is pushing for a second independence referendum. They are widely expected to win the Scottish parliamentary elections this year, and the Scottish parliament is expected to have a pro-independence majority. The national UK government has repeatedly ruled out a second independence vote, however.
The signatories of the letter wrote to the EU: “We call on you to ensure that the EU clearly signals a path for Scotland to become a member in advance of any independence referendum.”
“The usual process is for the EU to respond to a membership request only when it comes from an independent country,” they added.
“Scotland deserves a different process. While it is legally part of the UK, the Scottish government cannot negotiate with the EU. But the EU can declare that, because Scotland has already long been part of the EU, should it become legally and democratically independent, it need not apply as a “new” accession candidate. Instead, the EU and its member states should make a unilateral and open offer of membership – an exceptional proposal to match Scotland’s exceptional circumstances.”
They pointed to the EU’s previous flexibility with regards to Northern Ireland, having agreed it would immediately become part of the EU if it votes to join the Republic of Ireland.
“The EU should offer as much continuity as possible to Scotland too,” they said.
“This requires creative, practical thinking. No one knows the short and long-term costs of Brexit for Scotland, nor those linked to breaking away from the UK,” they wrote. “In light of this, generous terms should be offered to support Scotland’s budget in the challenging months of the transition before rejoining the EU.”
“These are important issues because they will make it possible for any referendum to be a clear, practical and democratic choice for Scotland between two unions, the EU or the UK,” they wrote.
Ian McEwan, the English novelist and screenwriter who wrote Atonement, was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “Should it decide on independence, it will thrive within the EU as other small nations do. Leading figures in Brussels have promised that ‘the door will remain open’. Now is the time for them to hang out the welcome sign.”
Other famous signatories from England include musician Brian Eno, authors Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman, from Ireland the writer Fintan O’Toole, from Scotland actor Brian Cox, and from Slovenia philosopher Slavoj Zizek.