100 years ago the elite and leaders of Europe called on millions of citizen to sacrifice themselves under the banner of freedom for small nations. A century later the new leaders and elite solemnly commemorate the sacrifice of those millions for that principal. Yet, we see the same European leaders now arguing against the freedom of Scotland and it’s continued membership of the European Union. We also observe from this side of the Irish Sea the City of London and the Government in Westminster engaging in a “phoney” economic war against Scotland.
In Ireland the government claim to be “neutral” in this “Phoney” economic War, mere observers, despite the fact that we all support the ideals of freedom which Scotland seeks. We are however concerned about the effect an independent Scotland, with control over its corporation tax would have on jobs here and the ability of this nation to attract foreign direct investment. The government is quietly seriously concerned about the obvious knock on effect on the situation in the North
In the event the people of Scotland vote for independence, Ireland and it’s government should not be and will not be neutral in supporting Scotland in any adverse actions by the city of London and Westminster. We must support Scotland’s continuation within the EU, a country that is currently in the EU and meets all the criteria for membership should not and must not be punished by now treating it or those larger EU states.
The position of the leaders of Europe is worrying. Our own former Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, who is on the executive of the Party of European socialists issued a statement where he said Scotland’s membership would be blocked by large countries such as Spain and ironically in this the anniversary of the start of World War 1, Belgium. His comments were issued by the ‘ Better Together’ Campaign to support their argument against an independent Scotland.
The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has not been neutral in his intervention despite saying “I don’t want to interfere on your referendum here …… it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible” for an independent Scotland to get the necessary approval from the member states for it to join the European Union.
Yet, an answer is available to David Cameron and the ‘Better Together’ campaign who question the impossibilities of an independent Scotland being allowed to remain in or rejoin the European Union . This answer is available to the Prime Minister and the British government as members states are allowed to ask the question of Scotland’s membership of the EU in the event of it voting for independence. Amazingly the British Prime Minister refused to ask the EU for official advice on the situation, there by allowing the doubt to continue. Why then did the Cameron and London Government not seek and get a definitive answer?
Pat Cox the former President of the European Parliament who is well accustomed to the way of making the impossible possible in Europe said on RTE’s Morning Ireland that because they are on the inside Scotland should be facilitate and a mechanism is available to do that in the EU
Would government in Westminster and the City of London seriously block an independent Scotland access to EU membership and use of sterling in the full knowledge that it would prevent an independent Scotland being a success? A success that British Prime Minister Cameron has admitted Scotland would be during a speech he gave while he was opposition leader “It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country.”
Professor Joseph Stiglitz the Nobel prize winning economist who is well known on this island is right when he says that David Cameron, the Government in Westminster and City of London were “for the most part” bluffing when they ruled out the Scottish National Party calls for a currency Union. The scare mongering over EU membership is “for the most part” an equal bluff. While we remain “officially” neutral, having gone through an economic war similar to the one that is being threatened against the Scots, we must conclude that on this occasion the threat of this economic war is “Phoney” and as Professor Stiglitz would put its “for the most part” bluff.
Ireland’s concerns on an independent Scotland and its effect on job creation here are unfounded in the same way. As are the concerns on attracting foreign direct investment into Ireland when 10 new countries joined the EU. The knock on effect in the North will without doubt be an issue for the Irish government and will require serious reengagement by both governments to tackle this evolving situation.
I agree with the British Prime Minster when he said Scotland would be a successful independent country. As another small country, ranked 7th in the world by the UN human development index, we must not be neutral. We must, should and will be active in asking and persuading other small countries in the EU and the more reluctant larger states to support an independent Scotland’s continuation in the EU.
Senator Mark Daly is a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs since 2007 and Spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and the Diaspora