Gordon Brown dismantles case for Scottish 'independence' in Europe

Repercussions of September's Scottish referendum will be felt across EU, says senior Scottish MEP David Martin

By David Martin MEP

26 Jun 2014

Press Release by David Martin MEP

Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels this morning (Thursday June 26th), David Martin, Scotland's senior MEP, said:

"Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has today totally dismissed the case for 'independence' in Europe and given other nationalist movements throughout the European Union pause for thought."

Introduced by candidate for European Parliament President, and Leader of the Socialists and Democrats, Martin Schulz MEP, and chaired by Scottish MEP David Martin, Mr Brown was listened to attentively by MEPs and officials from other Member States who have great interest in the continued prosperity of the EU.

Using the Scottish referendum as the theme of his speech, Mr Brown expanded on SNP miscalculations on the costs of joining and being part of the EU if an independent Scotland was to be admitted and the second 'black hole' in SNP figures*, culminating in a total additional direct cost to Scottish taxpayers of around £2.5 billion (£935 per household) over 2014-20.

"Scotland's membership of the EU as part of the UK is worth £500 million a year more than as an independent state," concluded Mr Brown.

Mr Brown's speech explored why political nationalism, which was absent in Scotland for almost 300 years, has emerged as a powerful, but not unstoppable force and considered the rise of nationalist movements in Europe and specifically, the progressives' response to Scottish nationalism and the September 18th referendum.

Speaking after the event, David Martin MEP said:

"The debate in Scotland is not being held in a vacuum. The repercussions of the referendum in September will be felt across the European Union and is being closely watched in Europe's national capitals.

"European politics in the 21st century is about coming together to face global issues. At a time when divisions are coming down across our continent, the nationalists' desire to put up barriers is a yesterday's answer to today's common challenges.

"In the UK as across the EU we achieve more together than we do apart."

For further information contact Jenni Dunsmore on +32 470 138 763.

www.eurolabour.org.uk  • @EuroLabour

Notes to editors: The SNP 'black hole'

  • In addition to a £4 billion shortfall on oil estimates, the SNP have failed to calculate the £350-500 million annual extra cost of EU membership.
  • It is now accepted that the real estimate for oil revenues is £2.9 billion in 2016-17 (OBR Budget forecast with HMRC geographical split), £4 billion short of the SNP's forecast of £6.9 billion (Scottish Government Oil and Gas Bulletin 2014, Scenario 4 which is used for their fiscal forecast).
  • As part of the UK, the contribution made by Scottish taxpayers to the EU budget over 2014-20 would be around £8.5 billion, but it is estimated that an independent Scottish state would contribute a total of around £11billion to the EU budget over the same seven-year period.
  • The difference is that Scotland would lose the benefit from the UK rebate (£2 billion over seven years).  Ironically, they would also have to contribute to the UK rebate (about £540 million over seven years). 
  • This gives a total additional direct cost to Scottish taxpayers of around £2.5 billion (£935 per household) over 2014-20.
  • This means that while Scotland's membership of the EU through being a member of the UK is worth £350million a year extra to Scottish taxpayers, this would be lost.
  • What's more, this figure for costs could be even higher because there is no guarantee an independent Scottish state's receipts from the EU budget – which would depend on its terms of accession, which would in turn have to be agreed by all 28 Member States – would be the same. 
  • In particular, it is unclear whether CAP receipts would transition from current levels to €196 per hectare by 2020, or whether, in common with all 13 Member States that have joined the EU since 2004, full treatment in respect of CAP receipts would be phased in over ten years.
  • Following the decision to allocate Scotland £3.1 billion in CAP Pillar 1 receipts for 2014–20, an independent Scottish state's CAP Pillar 1 receipts could range from around £1billion less to around £800million more over 2014–20.
  • At the same time, Scotland would receive over £185million less in Structural Funds if it were an independent state.  This means that Scotland receives over £25million a year extra for regional and social aid simply because it is in the UK.
  • Total receipts for Scotland should it remain part of the UK are expected to be around £5.4billion over 2014-20.  An independent Scottish state would see total receipts from the EU budget that are between around £1.2billion lower (with a 10-year phase-in for CAP receipts) and £600million higher (if Scotland transits from €130/ha to €196/ha by 2020).  The optimistic scenario assumes that other Member States would be willing to give up over £800million in CAP receipts from 2014-20 to fund increased Scottish receipts.
  • However, the total impact of different levels of receipts is dwarfed by the impact of losing the benefit of the UK rebate. 
  • In short, even under the most optimistic scenario for CAP receipts, Scotland's membership of the UK is worth £1.9billion (£714 per household) more than the cost of an independent Scotland's net contribution. Under this scenario, for every extra pound in CAP receipts for Scottish farmers, taxpayers would incur extra costs of over £3.00.
  • Under less optimistic scenarios, an independent Scottish state could see its CAP (and total) receipts fall substantially, with the deterioration in net contributions over 2014–20 rising to as much as £3.7 billion (£1,400 per household) compared with the situation if Scotland were to remain part of the UK.

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