Our Place in Europe
The Will of the Scottish People
In 2016, a mandate was issued by the Scottish people, clearly stating that if Scotland was to be taken out of the European Union against the wishes of the Scottish people, then that would be a considerable material change in circumstances that would allow the public to revisit the question on Independence. Despite this clearly expressed mandate, no referendum or preparations for a referendum have been forthcoming and Scotland has now been taken out of the EU.
Rectifying the economic vandalism that Brexit has wrought on Scotland’s people, industry and opportunity must be a key priority for our nation upon independence.
As a result of Brexit, Scotland has lost single market membership which affords members four freedoms: the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.
The Scottish Government's current position is that following a vote in favour of independence, we will begin the process of joining the EU. While there is unlikely to be much opposition within the member states to such a move, negotiations surrounding Scotland's entry may take years.
There is another route that Scotland could take that would certainly mean quicker entry to the European community and the four main freedoms this comes with, and that's the European Free Trade Association.
It is ALBA’s position that an independent Scotland should join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as an immediate priority. This will allow Scotland to gain access to the European Economic Area (EEA) and effective free trade with the EU, thus mitigating the negative effects of Brexit.
EFTA membership could be negotiated within weeks, as opposed to years, and could be negotiated in parallel with independence negotiations with the UK. On becoming an EFTA member, Scotland could re-join the EEA within a few months. This is important as it would afford Scotland a strong hand in negotiations with the UK Government. We would have a concrete plan and timetable in place that secured our trading relationship with the world’s largest marketplace.
EFTA membership would enable Scotland to negotiate to become a full member of the EU in due course if the people of Scotland so choose whilst enjoying the benefits of free trade, thus placing Scotland in a much stronger negotiating position with the EU for future membership.
The Schengen Acquis is the set of EU rules and legislation that sets out the mechanism by which these movements are made possible. All existing EFTA member states; Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, apply the Acquis thereby ensuring that their citizens and economies derive maximum benefits.
All EU candidate member states are required to apply the Acquis unless they are able to negotiate an opt-out. We believe it is imperative that an independent Scotland should adopt and apply the Acquis to ensure we secure the full level of support and associated benefits that allows our economy and our people to flourish.
ALBA recognises that this is a key priority for an independent Scotland and calls on the Scottish Government to take immediate and decisive measures to rectify and mitigate the impact of Brexit by initiating an application for membership of EFTA.
This application should ideally be concluded during a period of transition to statehood and ensure that an independent Scotland has access via EFTA on day one of independence and to the EEA and other trade agreements within a few months compared with estimates of up to 10 years or more for access by way of application for EU membership.