The Spanish and their imaginary EU queue

Spain’s imaginary EU queue

We showed solidarity to Spain when we voted to remain in the EU so a little back in return wouldn’t be too much to ask for.

Although you shouldn’t expect solidarity from Spain.

They don’t want to encourage Catalonia who are planning to have a unofficial independence referendum this year. That is why it was no surprise that Esteban Gonzalez Pons, who leads Spain’s biggest MEP group put a dampener on things. The Scotsman gleefully reported his intervention without an iota of scrutiny.

Spain's imaginary EU queue

Trying to discourage Catalonia

We talked about this before, but broadly speaking there are two possible ways for an independent Scotland to be in the EU.

The simplest way would be for Scotland to vote for independence during the article 50 negotiations and attempt to remain in the EU as a successor state.

Legal experts have confirmed it is possible, the question is whether anyone will take up our case. As explained in this article by the famed cybernat think tank the London School of Economics.

Spain's imaginary EU queue

There is a way, is there a will?

While the barrier here is political, Spain alone has little influence as, unlike the normal process for joining the EU, one country cannot veto the article 50 process.

So, while we think it is not a given that Scotland could stay in the EU using this means, it is not is Spain’s power to decide. The power here is held by the UK and the European negotiators who will conduct the talks. We know that some within the EU are sympathetic to Scotland’s plight so it is not a complete lost cause.

It should be noted that we are leaving the EU at the moment whether we like it or not. So, unlike in 2014 when Spain used the same fear-mongering tactic, we would not be risking our EU place by pursuing this goal. If we fail we are out of the EU against our will regardless.

The other way for Scotland to be in the EU is for us to leave it and reapply as a new state.

This is where Mr Pons’ threat about joining the back of the queue comes in. The only problem with his theory is there is no queue to join the EU. If there is a queue, it’s like those ones that form in the Pound shop. Where you are waiting patiently for for 5 minutes before another till opens and someone 5 places behind you gets served first.

To understand this you just need to look at the variation in the length of times different countries have taken to join the EU. Note how Turkey applied in 1987 and is still negotiating. Compare that to Finland taking less than three years to join.

Applications for accession to the European Union*
ApplicantIssuedAccession/
failure rationale
 Albania2009-04-28Official candidate[11]
 Austria1989-07-171995-01-01
 BelgiumN/A1952-07-23
 Bosnia and Herzegovina2016-02-15[12]Potential candidate[13]
 Bulgaria1995-12-142007-01-01
 Croatia2003-02-212013-07-01
 Cyprus1990-07-032004-05-01
 Czech Republic1996-01-172004-05-01
 Denmark1961-08-10
1967-05-111973-01-01
 Estonia1995-11-242004-05-01
 Finland1992-03-181995-01-01
 FranceN/A1952-07-23
 West Germany[14]N/A1952-07-23
 Greece1975-06-121981-01-01
 Hungary1994-03-312004-05-01
 Iceland2009-07-17
 Ireland1961-07-31
1967-05-111973-01-01
 ItalyN/A1952-07-23
Kosovo*[18][19]Potential candidate[13]
 Latvia1995-09-132004-05-01
 Lithuania1995-12-082004-05-01
 LuxembourgN/A1952-07-23
 Macedonia[20]2004-03-22Official candidate[13]
 Malta1990-07-16
2004-05-01
 Montenegro2008-12-15Negotiating[13]
 Morocco1987-07-20
 NetherlandsN/A1952-07-23
 Norway1962-04-30
1967-07-21
1992-11-25
 Poland1994-04-052004-05-01
 Portugal1977-03-281986-01-01
 Romania1995-06-222007-01-01
 Slovakia1995-06-272004-05-01
 Slovenia1996-06-102004-05-01
 Spain1962-02-09
1977-06-281986-01-01
 Serbia2009-12-22Negotiating[13]
 Sweden1991-07-011995-01-01
  Switzerland1992-05-25
 Turkey1987-04-14Negotiating[13]
 United Kingdom1961-08-10
1967-05-101973-01-01
* Applications to the European Coal and Steel Community,
European Communities and European Union depending on date.

The reason for the variation in the length of time it takes a state to join is due to the fact it takes some states longer to meet the criteria. Guess what? Scotland is in the EU already and as such already meets the conditions of membership.

Spain's imaginary EU queue

We already meet the criteria

The only barrier would be for a country to reject our membership for political reasons which would be against the spirit of EU law. This is why legal experts such as famed cybernat, Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott from the University of Oxford – Faculty of Law, have made legal arguments as to why and how Scotland should be fast-tracked.

Spain's imaginary EU queue

Using EU law to help Scotland

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So, to conclude, Spain has little power to stop Scotland remaining in the EU. If remaining is not possible then there is no queue to join and there is good legal advice stating that we wouldn’t have to wait long to be accepted. Even if we did have to wait, we are going to be dragged out anyway so the situation is less risky than it was in 2014.

Other options are available. Click here to learn about how an independent Scotland could remain in the single market by joining EFTA.

Here are are some other EU blogs we have done:

Would we have to adopt the Euro?

Why we are ok with the EU but not the UK.

Could we remain in the EU?

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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