Scottish ‘Yes’ Vote Not Automatic ‘Yes’ for EU, UN, NATO Membership

Should the majority vote "Yes" in the referendum, Scotland will secede from the United Kingdom on March 24, 2016 and would have to start establishing relationships with global and regional organizations, including the EU, UN and NATO.

MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti), Victoria Matsneva – Should the majority vote "Yes" in the referendum, Scotland will secede from the United Kingdom on March 24, 2016 and would have to start establishing relationships with global and regional organizations, including the EU, UN and NATO.


Scotland has been an integral part of the European Union for 40 years but there are questions over whether it could join the union as an independent entity as there has been no precedent for the secession of part of a member state.

The Scottish government's white paper, "Scotland's Future," identifies EU membership as a central aim. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), stated that an independent Scotland could become an EU member under Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty. The article allows EU treaties to be amended through an ordinary revision procedure before Scotland becomes independent in March 2016, to enable it to become a member state at the point of independence.

The SNP's claim has been challenged by outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who stated an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership and get the approval of all the union's member states, adding that it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for the new country to join the union.

As for the approval, it could be not so easy for Scotland to get it. First of all, it is a question if Britain would vote for Scotland joining the European Union. On the other hand, Britain itself could be not an EU member anymore at the time of deciding Scotland's fate as Prime Minister David Cameron promised an in-or-out vote should his Conservative Party win re-election. Still, there are some other EU countries that might not approve of an independent Scotland joining the union, notably Spain, which is concerned over Catalonia's independence aspirations.

According to EU accession guidelines, a country can be admitted to the union if it complies with all the union's standards and rules, has the consent of EU institutions, member states and its citizens, expressed through approval in their national parliaments or by referendum.


According to Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, European states are eligible for membership but they need the approval of all existing members. Meanwhile, any member state can forward certain criteria that need to be attained.

It is possible that Scotland will voice its desire to join the military alliance as the SNP dropped its 30-year policy of opposition toward NATO membership in 2012. At the same time, the party has maintained its anti-nuclear stance.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said that he wants Britain's Trident-armed nuclear submarines, part of NATO's collective deterrent based at the Clyde Naval Base, out of Scotland by 2020 in the case of a "Yes" vote in Thursday's referendum.

An independent Scotland would have to apply to join NATO, the alliance's chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday. He did not estimate how long it would take for membership, underlining that it depended on the country's "ability to fulfill the necessary criteria," and will require "consensus, unanimity in the alliance."

A number of politicians raised doubts that other NATO members would accept an independent Scotland that rejected the principle of nuclear deterrence. For example, former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said a year ago that "either the SNP accept the central nuclear role of NATO ... [or] ensure that a separate Scottish state stays out of the world's most successful defense alliance."

Mariot Leslie, a Scottish former UK permanent representative to NATO, contested this, saying in a letter to The Scotsman newspaper that NATO would welcome an independent Scotland even if the country removed the Trident submarines. "No ally would wish to interrupt the integrated NATO defense arrangements in the North Sea and North Atlantic," she said.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives said two weeks ago that an independent Scotland could face being blocked from NATO membership if it failed to stump up an extra 500 million pounds ($813 million) to meet the alliance's new pledge on spending.


In relation to joining the United Nations, an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership.

The UN Charter outlines the following rules for membership:

• Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states that accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

• The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

The process is expected to be relatively smooth and straightforward. There have been precedents like the former Soviet republics that joined the organization following the USSR's collapse. South Sudan, the world's newest country, became a UN member days after gaining independence.

However, an independent Scotland would not have a vote on the UN Security Council like the United Kingdom, at least until it is elected to one of the 10 nonpermanent member seats, which are elected for two-year terms and do not include veto powers.


As a new country, Scotland would also have to apply to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in order to gain the currency backstop it provides.

Should an independent Scottish state apply to join the IMF, it is unlikely to be represented by a single seat, as is the case with the United Kingdom, which has its own executive director at the organization and is one of the top five voting powers.

Scotland has a population of 5.3 million which means that "as with other small states, it would be likely to be required to join an IMF constituency, most likely one representing other European countries. Another option would be to form a constituency with the UK," according to the report "Scotland Analysis: EU and International issue," presented by British government this January.

According to the IMF, to become a member, a country must be accepted by a majority of the existing members. Upon joining, each member country is assigned a quota, broadly based on its relative size in the world economy, which defines its financial and organizational relationship with the organization.


The SNP wants Scotland to keep the monarchy and become an independent Commonwealth realm, similar to Canada or Australia. Other parties, such as Solidarity, want Scotland to become an independent republic.

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma suggested that Scotland will need to apply for membership if it becomes independent and that the application would be referred to its existing 53 members for a decision.

SNP constitution spokesman Pete Wishart said Scotland would be expected to have discussions with a range of multinational organizations after independence but that its memberships will ultimately be secured.

To become a member of the Commonwealth, an applicant country should, as a rule, have had a constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member; that it should comply with Commonwealth values, principles and priorities as set out in the Harare Declaration; and that it should accept Commonwealth norms and conventions.

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