Scotland’s European Futures: Mapping the Alternatives

by Elias Blum

A Guest Post by Derick Tulloch

The Scottish Government has correctly focused on single market membership. The absolute red line is EEA membership. And that can be achieved either by full EU membership or via EFTA

It’s worth separating this into 4 strands.

1 what is the preferred outcome?

Personally that is EEA membership. Not bothered by which route.

Achievable by either staying in the EU, joining EFTA or EFTA first then EU after a vote.

2 What is the easiest and most practical to achieve?

Depends on whether the EU is prepared to state openly that we would remain a member in advance of any vote. And on the attitude of 27 states + several devolved regions, all of whom have a veto.

Inherently easier to agree with 4 in EFTA than 30. Scottish EFTA membership would strengthen that organisation without overwhelming it. So there are advantages for them.

On the other hand, we have friends in high places in the EU.

3 What route is least able to be influenced and sabotaged by rUK?

Particularly politically. Perception is paramount. ‘Spain will veto EU membership’. ‘EU won’t negotiate with a non-independent nation”. “Scotland’s deficit is too high for EU membership”. Like it or not those slogans have traction with waverers, even through they are lies.

No Spanish veto over EFTA membership!

4 Last but not least. What is likely to garner the most support for Yes?

Would 33% Yes/EU membership folk go for EFTA first, at least as a step towards full membership? We need to find out.

The 11% Yes/Leave EU would grab it.

If so that’s 44% right there.

And the 2014 No/EU folk? Attract half of them and we’d start the campaign well over 50%

Everyone knows the polls haven’t changed because the 11% or so No to Yes have been balanced by 12% 2014 Yes/Leave moving to No. We need the lowest risk compromise that brings those folk back on side. Plus something attractive to those who currently want both EU and UK membership.