Yet more Tory Euro-tosh
“It is now clear that we (i.e. Scotland) would have no choice in the matter and that membership of the Euro would be an automatic consequence of independence. There is absolutely no guarantee that the special status enjoyed by the UK would automatically transfer to an independent Scotland. This would create a very damaging situation for Scottish businesses, where they would be operating with a different currency from their major markets in the rest of the UK. Alex Salmond needs to stop misleading the Scottish people and now come clean, admitting that as an independent Scotland, we would have no choice but to join the Euro.”
It is, in fact, the Scottish Tories who should stop misleading the Scottish people.
First: the facts. It is entirely true that all countries acceding to the EU since, and including, those who joined in 1995 have been obliged to sign up for eventual membership of the euro - the EU´s single currency - this being an integral part of the EU Treaties. The opt-out from the requirement to participate in the EU single currency which both the UK and Denmark secured in the run-up to the signing of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) back in 1992 has not been available to any country subsequently joining the EU. It was only agreed back then because of the particular circumstances of the day. It is highly unlikely (though not impossible - we are back in "successor state??" territory) that a comparable opt-out will ever again be available to a prospective EU member state (if that is the position in which an independent Scotland finds itself). However, even although obliged by the EU treaties to become a member of the euro-zone, a member state will only be permitted to adopt the euro if it meets the so-called convergence criteria as set out in the TEU, the most difficult of which traditionally has been reducing its budget deficit to below 3% of Gross Domestic Product. For the record, Slovenia became the 13th member of the euro-zone from January 1st this year, and Malta and Cyprus will take the number participating in the euro-zone to 15 from January 1st, 2008.
Second: the actual position for non-members of the euro-zone as we know it to be. The UK and Denmark retain the opt-out and so are under no legal obligation ever to join the euro-zone. Both countries currently hold to the position that whilst in no sense ruling it out, they will not join unless this is supported in a national referendum. For the rest, and this includes Sweden where just such a referendum held in September 2003 went against joining the euro-zone (despite the fact that Sweden met the convergence criteria), there is simply no question that any country can be - or ever will be - forced into joining the euro-zone. Any suggestion to the contrary (including that made by Scotland´s Tories) is arrant nonsense and reveals a truly worrying degree of economic, political and legal illiteracy. The question as to whether an independent Scotland should exercise its right to join the euro-zone (subject to meeting the convergence criteria) is, of course, quite a different matter and (for the record) one on which RRR remains agnostic, this being a matter requiring further research.
The apparent content of this report truly is bewildering and deeply troubling, and suggests that one or more of the following propositions must be true;
ONE; that the Scottish Tories collectively are sufficiently stupid and ill-informed to have been duped into believing that an independent Scotland would be dragooned into the euro-zone against the wishes of either or both the Scottish government and its electorate;
TWO; that the Scottish Tories´policy-ideas cupboard is so bereft of constructive policy proposals that might help Scotland that they are reduced to wilfully misleading the Scottish public of the true situation vis-a-vis the Euro;
THREE; that the Scottish Tories have just discovered that all new member states (and not only those joining since 2004 but also those who joined in 1995) have had to sign an accession treaty committing them to eventual membership of the euro-zone. (Hell, if the Tories think that the SNP Government could have saved some money by not publishing the White Paper on Scotland´s constitutional future, RRR could have saved them a few pounds in consultant´s fees if only they had phoned him on this matter.)
Fit to govern...?? Scotland needs an independent think tank on EU policy so that the type of rubbish coming out of this so-called "investigation" can be debunked as soon as it´s published!