Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Associate Statehood for Scotland as the Way to Stay in Both the United Kingdom and the European Union: The Liechtenstein Example

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Associate Statehood for Scotland as the Way to Stay in Both the United Kingdom and the European Union: The Liechtenstein Example

Article excerpt

Introduction

Scottish politics, which used to be driven mainly by the administrative devolution system, began being shaped through the mechanism of legislative devolution following the establishment of the Scottish Devolved Administration in 1998. Having been ruled by unionist political parties seeking to safeguard Scotland's constitutional ties with the United Kingdom (UK), the Devolved Administration - a constitutional system bestowing Scotland with the right to exercise territorial autonomy - began acquiring a separatist character in 2007 that would ultimately result in a Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

The 2014 referendum in which Scots rejected the option of secession could have settled the issue of Scottish independence for a generation; however, the 2016 Brexit Referendum in which the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) without a nation-wide consensus upon the leave vote has led to another constitutional crisis in Britain. As an outcome, Scotland, which overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU, now faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU, stimulating Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take all constitutional options, including the Scottish independence, into account for safeguarding Scotland's relations with the EU (Sturgeon 2016b).

The First Minister has recently announced that there might be some potential options enabling Scotland to stay in both the UK and the EU even after the former has left the latter (Kirkaldy 2016). In supporting this announcement, Hepburn (2016) and Ramsay (2016) argue that Scotland could stay in both unions if it became a federacy akin to Greenland. This constitutional option has, however, been rejected by some representatives of the UK Government, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Brexit Secretary David Davis (see Andrews 2016; Dathan 2016), encouraging Nicola Sturgeon and her cabinet to present Scottish independence as the best way to preserve Scotland's position in the EU (Sturgeon 2016c).

Is an independent Scotland obliged to completely leave the UK? Can a confederal arrangement between an independent Scotland and the UK that renders the former an associate state of the latter permit Scotland to stay in both the UK and the EU? How can associate statehood enable Scotland to stay in the UK? How can a potential Scottish associate state become an EU member state? Can associate statehood prevent Scotland from becoming an EU member state? This research addresses all these questions by paying a particular attention to the confederal relationship between the Principality of Liechtenstein and Switzerland that renders the former an associate state of the latter.

As an interdisciplinary study, which asserts that associate statehood m ight be a constitutional option allowing Scotland to stay in both the UK and the EU, this article proceeds in the following order. It initially examines the recent episodes of Scottish politics and the Brexit Referendum. The article then turns its attention to the question of how Scotland can stay in both the UK and the EU. Having looked at the option of federacy that has been rejected by some members of the UK Government, the article begins analysing the Liechtenstein case with the main purpose of demonstrating that Scottish independence which takes its shape in the form of associate statehood may provide Scotland with the opportunity to stay in both the UK and the EU.

Brexit referendum: a new constitutional crisis

Scotland, which has been part of the UK since the adoption of the 1 707 Act of Union, has not been subject to any (coercive) assimilation policies aimed at eradicating or destroying its distinct national identity; rather, the UK Government has not only respected Scottish national characteristics, but also allowed for their maintenance and development through enabling Scotland to pursue its own national policies, e.g. a separate judicial system based on Roman law instead of English common law; a distinct educational system teaching Scottish features; a Protestant Church constructed upon Calvinism rather than Anglicanism; and separate financial institutions able to issue Scottish banknotes. …

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