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“Scotland Analysis: EU and International Issues”

Volume 573: debated on Friday 17 January 2014

Today I am publishing a Command Paper “Scotland analysis: EU and international issues” (Cm 8765). This paper is the ninth in a series of papers produced by the UK Government in their Scotland analysis programme. It looks at the current EU and international position of Scotland as part of the United Kingdom, and examines the potential implications of independence. The Scotland analysis programme is designed to inform the debate on Scotland’s future within the United Kingdom ahead of the referendum. Further papers from the Scotland analysis programme will be published in coming months to ensure that people in Scotland have access to the facts and information ahead of the referendum.

I have the privilege of witnessing in my work every day the difference the UK makes internationally through our people, our network, our relationships, our leading role in Europe and in multilateral institutions. Britain’s prosperity, security and aid and development programmes depend on the strength of these irreplaceable assets that have been built up and invested in for decades. Scotland and Scottish people are an integral part of this work and this impact. It is difficult to imagine a UK without Scotland or a Scotland without the rest of the UK being able to achieve as much as we do together.

People and businesses in the UK benefit from an extensive, effective and highly regarded diplomatic network of over 14,000 people in 267 embassies, high commissions and consulates in 154 countries and 12 overseas territories around the world. Setting up a new international network to support Scottish diplomacy, trade and consular activity would be costly and time-consuming.

Using this network, the UK has fought long and hard on behalf of all its people for more favourable terms of EU membership, including a refund of a proportion of its contributions (the UK rebate). No other state has negotiated such favourable terms embodied in an annual rebate. People and businesses across Scotland and the UK benefit every year. There are also significant benefits to the UK’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council, and from our representation at the G7, G8 and G20.

In the event of a vote for independence, in the eyes of the world and in law, Scotland would become an entirely new state. The paper shows that an independent Scottish state would face tough choices about its international priorities.

An independent Scotland would have to apply for EU membership, requiring negotiations with the EU institutions and all existing EU member states on the terms of membership. These negotiations would be likely to be lengthy and require unanimous agreement by all other EU members. This would be likely to result in an independent Scottish state paying more to be part of the EU. An independent Scotland would also need to work harder to defend its national interests in international organisations.

The evidence, analysis and conclusions of the paper are clear: the UK is safer, more prosperous, and a stronger force for good in the world together than divided.