3 International influence in the event
of independence: more or less? |
'HARD' POWER ATTRIBUTES
65. As part of our inquiry, we sought to understand
the extent to which independence could affect the FCO's ability
to discharge its foreign policy goals. In terms of certain key
indicators, the RUK would retain many of its current attributes.
For instance its population would only reduce from approximately
63 million to 58 million, making it the world's 23rd
largest country (down from 21st now), and although
it would lose just under a tenth of the UK's total GDP, it would
remain the world's eighth largest economy.
Within international institutions the FCO maintained that, as
the continuing state, the emergence of Scotland as an independent
country would not affect the RUK's "strong network of alliances
and relationships" and its "leading position in the
major international institutions and organisations", even
allowing for necessary adjustments to its institutional position
consequent to its reduced population.
Professor Chalmers has stated that the RUK would most likely retain
a defence budget comparable to that of France, and an aid budget
amongst the largest in the world. He concluded that "if measured
purely in such material terms, therefore, Scottish independence
would have no more impact on the UK's ability to operate internationally
than did the 2010 Spending Review's decision to cut the defence
budget by 8 per cent over the four years to 2014/15. As with that
review, the impact would be uncomfortable and serious; but it
would not be catastrophic".
Professor Chalmers told us that provided that the RUK could secure
agreement on Trident basing and post separation budgets, "it
could credibly argue that the RUK had military 'hard power' that
was almost comparable to what the UK would have had in the event
of the maintenance of the Union".
66. The UK Government has adopted a firm position
that the emergence of Scotland as an independent country would
not result in the unilateral nuclear disarmament of the UK.
The Minister of State told us that the "strategic nuclear
deterrent would be maintained" with the RUK taking "whatever
measures [...] were necessary in order to do that".
The Scottish Government, however, has been clear that it would
not allow permanent Trident basing. Ms Sturgeon said that:
the position that we would want Trident to be removed
from Scotland is not negotiable. [...] We have clearly said, because
we would be a responsible Government and a responsible partner,
that that has to be done in the speediest safe way possible.
Other witnesses did not share the UK Government's
confidence. They were clear that it would be prohibitively difficult
and costly to find any other site for Trident outside Scotland.
This would call into question the UK's nuclear defences. Professor
Omand stated that, "my fear, and it is a genuine fear, is
that that would precipitate the UK out of the nuclear business".
The consequences of such a hard power loss from a defence perspective
are being examined by the Defence Committee.
67. From a foreign policy perspective, witnesses
did not think that it would necessarily affect the RUK's short-term
ability to retain key international positions such as a permanent
seat on the Security Council.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock observed that the RUK would still be "a
really quite powerful and capable state working in the international
institutions and in bilateral relations". He added that it
"will not look terribly good that we have lost bits and pieces
of our federation. [...] But there would be very real capabilities
left, and London, as a capital city, has a huge cosmopolitan power
and reputation [...]".
Written evidence from Dr Daniel Kenealy, Lecturer in Politics
and International Relations, University of Edinburgh, stated that
in the short term "it is hard to envision why Scotland's
independence would play any causal role" in changes to the
RUK's foreign policy. He added that the "RUK would, in essence,
be slightly smaller, slightly less populous, and with a smaller
GDP than the former UK".
68. The situation may differ over the longer
term, if the RUK did not maintain, in Lord Jay's words, the "strong
foreign policy and armed forces that enabled us to work with others".
There would also be a greater chance that the RUK's relationship
with its key allies and traditional defence partners, including
its privileged relationship with the US, which is at least partly
sustained by nuclear and security co-operation, would come under
scrutiny and review if it did not retain its nuclear deterrent,
which of itself could serve to fuel the views of some states that
the RUK was a power in irreversible decline.
THE IMPACT ON THE UK'S INTERNATIONAL
69. Important though hard power and its trappings
undoubtedly are, there is recognition within government and beyond
that the UK's international standing and soft power influence
derives not simply from its material wealth, its diplomatic service
or even its willingness to spend money in pursuit of foreign policy
many analysts, the UK's weight on the world stage is also rooted
in how others view its political stability and its long experience
of continuous and constitutional government.
The FCO itself places
a great emphasis on the importance of soft power and public diplomacy
and has prioritised the use of 'soft power' to promote British
values, advance development and prevent conflict.
Speaking in 2011, the then FCO Minister Lord Howell, argued that
the UK's "attractiveness rests on offering a positive domestic
constitutional model that appears to work".
Catarina Tully stated that the RUK is seen as a rule-maintainer,
not a rule-setter, and that the UK's "experienced broker
role is respected externally and considered to add significant
value in terms of making global governance work better, particularly
in international institutions".
70. Most witnesses agreed that the RUK would
inevitably suffer some reputational damage and Sir Jeremy Greenstock
noted that "there are members of the United Nations who are
sometimes reasonably content to see the UK in trouble or struggling".
Other witnesses claimed that the emergence of Scotland as an independent
country could give rise to perceptions overseas that the UK's
weight and influence is in decline. For instance, Professor Whitman
and Dr Blick argued that the "prestige of the UK as a successful
multinational state would be compromised by the loss of a major
territory within it".
Catarina Tully stated that:
if soft power is about the power of attraction towards
your world-view, it is at first glance difficult to see fragmentation
as anything other than a negative judgment on the UK. [...] Nothing
speaks louder than citizens voting with their feet. This phenomenon
- in the absence of clear explanations - may well open up questions
about what was wrong with the political construct formerly known
as the United Kingdom. This is quite aside from the to-be-expected
response of countries like Venezuela, Iran and Argentina who have
interest in putting into question the UK's authority and legitimacy.
71. While there was agreement among witnesses
that reputational damage would arise, there was less clarity about
how this might manifest itself or what impact it could have on
the RUK's ability to project its foreign policy goals. The FCO
acknowledged that there could be a "short-term risk of opponents
of the UK's foreign policy seeking to exploit any uncertainty
or distraction that could follow a vote in favour of separation
for Scotland" and that "traditional allies may seek
reassurance that the UK would retain the ability to project influence
and military capability in support of joint objectives".
72. Witnesses did however agree that the way
in which the RUK handled "the business of the break-up"
would significantly influence how much reputational damage and
loss of prestige the RUK suffered internationally.
We heard from a number of witnesses that proactive political and
diplomatic management of the situation would be required to prevent
objections arsing from key states.
Thus far, it is not clear that the UK is doing this, partly
because it has chosen to state, as a policy position, that it
is confident Scots will vote to stay as part of the UK. The problem
with this strategy from an international perspective, as Catarina
Tully observed, is that "countries are finding it difficult
to assess their own response to independence since they are not
getting much response from Whitehall":
They are uncertain about what the Scottish Referendum
means and what Scottish independence might mean. Herein lies an
opportunity for the UK and Scotland both to engage and reassure
partners' concerns while balancing their own quite separate respective
agendas and build their respective soft power credibilities -
whatever the outcome of the referendum.
73. Assuming that the RUK could
largely maintain its hard power capabilities following Scottish
independence, there is no reason to suggest that its influence
in international organisations and institutions would change,
at least in the short term. However, any resulting nuclear disarmament
of the RUK would lead to obvious hard power losses which would
have a profound impact on the RUK's future foreign policy posture.
74. It is difficult to measure
the impact on the RUK's international standing and influence in
the event of Scotland becoming an independent country but we conclude
that some degree of reputational damage is inevitable. We
recommend that ahead of the referendum, the FCO does more, when
appropriate, to engage with international partners in order to
highlight the UK's commitment to a consensual and broad-based
engagement on the Scottish referendum, with a view to minimising
the risk of damage to the UK's reputation.
RUK'S DIPLOMATIC SERVICE
75. As we concluded in our Report into The
Role of the FCO in UK Government, the FCO is among the world's
most accomplished diplomatic operations.
Catarina Tully stated that "British international influence
in no small part comes not from its size but from the persuasiveness
and forcefulness of its diplomatic service [...], its pragmatic
approach, role of honest broker [and] the coherence and effectiveness
of its diplomacy".
During this inquiry we explored whether Scotland's emergence as
an independent country would have an impact on this. The ex-diplomats
we heard from did not think that the RUK's daily diplomatic business
would be unduly affected by independence, and Sir Jeremy Greenstock
felt that "most members of the United Nations, whether or
not they enjoyed a bit of schadenfreude, would get on with the
business of not wanting to cause fuss over somebody else's internal
However, Professor Chalmers contended that "there will be
a loss" and that "is bound to lead to some loss of self-confidence
among our elite [...] I don't know what the psychological impact
of that on the individuals concerned will be but it should not
76. The greatest impact on the diplomatic service
could arise from budget cuts as part of the Government spending
round that would follow Scottish becoming an independent country.
Lord Jay told us that the Treasury might argue that with GDP 8%
lower and the number of people that the UK represents overseas
reduced by approximately the same amount, there should be a corresponding
cut in the FCO's budget. He stated that:
Further significant cuts in the FCO's budget would
make it difficult for the Foreign Office to continue to carry
out the sorts of services that it carries out with the range of
posts that it now has across the world. [...] How do you maintain
with a smaller budget a spread of posts with the quality and the
number of people that you need to do the job that needs to be
done, with the security that you need to have in order to be able
to do that? I think that that would be very difficult.
77. The FCO would also need to set up a new representative
office in Scotland (with associated costs) at a time when it is
under pressure to cut back on other parts of the overseas network.
Its diplomats, too, would have a role to play in the independence
negotiations and in developing an appropriate RUK approach to
its new neighbour. There could also be a loss of staff and expertise
through voluntary moves to a new Scottish diplomatic service.
Inevitably, any of these scenarios would divert already scarce
resources away from existing FCO programmes, although it is impossible
to predict with any degree of accuracy at this stage what impact
this may have. We
are concerned that any budgetary cuts imposed by the Treasury
on the RUK's diplomatic service as a result of independence would
cut into the bone of existing FCO operations. This would be magnified
by the costs involved in setting up a new representation in Scotland
which would inevitably divert already scarce FCO resources away
from existing commitments.
IN THE EU: A REDUCED RUK INFLUENCE?
78. If Scotland were to vote 'yes' in the independence
referendum, the transitional period before 2016 would coincide
with a process of radical constitutional reform within the EU
as well as a possible (R)UK referendum campaign on whether, and
on what terms, it should remain part of the EU. We have examined
these issues in detail as part of our inquiry and Report into
The Future of the European Union: UK Government Policy, which
will be published later this year.
79. On paper, because the RUK's population would
not diminish significantly, it is likely that voting weights in
the European Council would remain unchanged and there would be
no formal decrease in the RUK's power or weight.
However, the same may not apply in the European Parliament. As
Dr Murkens told us, "the problem is that the number of MEPs
is capped at 750 plus the president, so any increase in Scottish
representation would lead to a necessary reduction in RUK's 73
[MEPs]. Would the rest of the United Kingdom be happy to see such
a dramatic reduction in its representation? I leave that question
80. There could be a greater informal impact
on the RUK's influence. Dr Andrew Blick, University of Kent, and
Professor Richard Whitman, Associate Member of Chatham House,
argued that in this respect, the implications for the RUK's role
in Europe would be "profound and irreversible".
Professor Whitman claimed that, "accompanied by the rump
UK's likely continuation of its position outside the Euro zone,
and the possible transition of monetary union into a deepened
fiscal and political union, a status as a European diplomatic
Lilliputian is one credible scenario".
He argued the UK would cease to be one of the EU's 'big three'
Member States alongside France and Germany and could face a diminished
capacity for influence bilaterally and within the EU institutions.
This in turn could lead to a reduced influence with the United
States if its capacity to exercise influence on EU policy-making
81. It was also suggested that other EU countries
could exploit separation to pressurise the RUK to re-negotiate
the terms of its membership in particular policy areas (for example
the Euro, Schengen or the budget rebate) particularly if this
came at a time when the RUK was seen to be blocking or delaying
key initiatives of importance to other Member States.
Dr Blick told us:
It adds in a whole new tier of negotiations and footwork
that has to go on. If we then try to run that alongside trying
to negotiate something for Scotland as well, it could become hideously
complex and issues which become difficult could pop up that we
82. However, Catarina Tully told us that in terms
of the debate about [RUK] influence in Europe, the name of the
game [...] is not really independence but the UK's attitude to
the EU. That trumps all concerns about the UK reducing in size
by 8% of its population, 30% of its land mass, and between 8%
and 10% of its GDP".
From a diplomatic perspective, Sir Jeremy Greenstock stated the
RUK would retain "considerable energy".
83. There is a danger that the
RUK's influence within the EU could decline in the event of Scotland
becoming an independent country although it is currently impossible
to predict the extent of the damage that may arise, not least
because this could also be affected by the consequences of the
ongoing debate over the UK's future relationship with the EU.
84. Foreign affairs are a reserved matter under
current devolution arrangements with the practical arrangements
for handling foreign affairs contained in a Memorandum of Understanding
between HMG and the Scottish Government which includes a Concordat
on the co-ordination of European Union Policy issues.
In essence, this provides for the UK to take the policy
and political lead on foreign affairs with input from Scottish
Ministers, as appropriate, where there are particular Scottish
interests at stake. Within these parameters, the Scottish Government
has successfully engaged on a wide range of international issues,
developing strategic international objectives and engagement plans
with key countries (including the USA, Canada, China and more
generally South Asia) focusing on business, trade, education,
culture, science and tourism.
It is also seeking an enhanced role for Scotland in Europe, including
through the Scotland Europa Office in Brussels. According to the
European Policy Centre, its presence has ensured that Scottish
interests have international recognition, a voice in the European
arena and an ability to cultivate relations with other institutions.
85. In addition to a network of Scottish Development
International (SDI) Offices (which focus on inward investment
and international trade) the Scottish Government also has staff
working within the FCO overseas network on matters of particular
Scottish interest and has capitalised upon the large Scottish
diaspora through initiatives such as 'GlobalScot', enabling it
to create business opportunities and project Scottish soft power.
Indeed, the 2012 Anholt-GFK Roper Nation Brands Index Report for
Scotland suggests that Scotland's reputation abroad is strong
and is scored and ranked similarly and in some cases ahead of
the other smaller, high income, liberal democracies on the index
(e.g. Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and New Zealand). Scotland's
governance and tourism are seen as Scotland's strongest points
while exports are perceived as its weakest point. Across all dimensions,
with the exception of exports, Scotland is ranked within the Top
WOULD INDEPENDENCE ENHANCE SCOTLAND'S
86. It is clear from the points illustrated above,
that Scotland already projects a strong Scottish voice at an international
level. Yet, the Scottish Government argues that this is not sufficient
for Scotland's needs. It states that:
independence will give us a voice on the world stage.
As a member of the European Union and United Nations, we will
be a fully-fledged partner in the international community. This
will allow us to promote and protect our interests and provide
an input into global issues and challenges.
It adds that:
as an equal partner at these top tables [international
organisations], we will have a real say in fostering global co-operation
and solving conflict - in big-ticket issues such as peace and
war, reconciliation, breaking down barriers and action on saving
87. We asked witnesses whether having a direct
voice would allow Scotland to play the type of global role the
Scottish Government aspires to. Dr Kaarbo told us that as a small
and newly independent country, Scotland would lose "the objective
that currently enable the UK to play a global role in geopolitics,
global security and international human rights through its influence
in, for instance, the Security Council and the other main international
groupings of the most influential and economically significant
countries, such as the G8 or G20.
The FCO maintained that Scotland would also lose out in the international
financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), where its voting shares and influence would
be reduced from its current position as part of the UK and where
"the expectation must be that an independent Scotland would
not be represented by its own single seat".
88. So too, it might lose the benefits that come
from the UK's ability to project soft power which, according to
a 'Global Soft Power' survey published in November 2012, places
the UK is at the top of the list, ahead of the US, Germany, France
and Sweden. The survey concluded that no other country comes close
to Britain's influence around the world. Similarly, in the 2012
Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index, the UK's was ranked 3rd
out of 50 in countries in terms of overall reputation.
Catarina Tully reasoned that:
the SNP appear to have made an implicit calculation
that there is a net foreign policy gain to independence for Scotland.
This is despite moving from being part of the 3rd largest economy
in Europe to the joint 17th. The implicit calculation may be that
what Scotland loses in scale and hard power, it gains by: over
a billion pound saving on defence; being able to focus on a narrower
set of national objectives; using foreign policy capabilities
more efficiently; using soft power more effectively; and - implicitly
- stronger regional relationships. This is a typical small power
diplomatic strategy: narrowly focused on specific interests and
bound closely to its regional allies.
89. Witnesses told us that that as a small "resource-dependent,
intent on playing a global role it would be crucial for Scotland
to pursue its foreign policy goals through the use of soft power
if it was to succeed in punching above its weight internationally.
Here, Scotland already performs well and if it could improve upon
this by, for instance, providing innovative leadership, developing
an economic niche or by highlighting its strategic importance,
it could carve out a global role. However, Dr Kaarbo warned that
"it is a crowded field out there" and that it would
take a long time "and it would have to build up that credibility"
especially since the policy areas that the Scottish Government
appears to wish to influence (like climate justice) are already
championed by other states with greater resources, influence and
Rose, Centre for the Study of Public Policy, University of Strathclyde,
Glasgow, concluded that "while Scotland has the advantage
of being an internationally known brand that may help to open
doors abroad, this is insufficient to seal deals".
90. It would also be more difficult for Scotland
to exercise influence across the wide range of issues that the
Scottish Government appears to wish to champion. As Professor
Richard Rose stated in his written evidence, "the lack of
the hard power of military force and a large gross domestic product
forces small states to rely on 'smart' power, that is, a conscious
strategy of engaging with other countries in order to call attention
to common interests that may be pursued for common advantage".
However, as Catarina Tully noted, although small states tend to
choose one or two issues on which they show global leadership,
"everywhere else they have to go with the consensus of the
Put another way, a small state has to be "an environment
taker, not an environment shaper" with "its room for
manoeuvre in terms of its choices [...] shaped a lot more by its
AFRESH: CREATING DIPLOMATIC CLOUT
91. Diplomatic excellence undoubtedly helps states
to exercise influence internationally. Currently, Scots and Scottish
businesses have access to the support and expertise provided by
the FCO's overseas network which comprises around 270 diplomatic
posts in 170 countries and 14,000 staff. As part of the UK, Scottish
Development International's own offices in 13 countries are complemented
by the UKTI network of 162 offices in 96 countries, and can draw
on the UK's diplomatic representation in the rest of the world.
In addition, the Scottish Government has, under the auspices of
the Scottish Affairs Office, four staff at the UK's Washington
embassy and a further two in the British Consulate in Toronto.
In Beijing there are two accredited staff. There are also 12 staff
working under the umbrella of the UKREP in Brussels.
92. The FCO states that its overseas network
enables the UK to "deliver a distinctive foreign policy that
extends its global reach and influence on bilateral and multilateral
issues such as climate change, human rights and global security,
as well as assisting UK nationals overseas", all areas that
the Scottish Government states it would seek to exercise influence
to the FCO, in 2011-12:
- 172 grants were provided to
Scottish firms through support under the UKTI's Tradeshow Access
- 310 reports were commissioned on behalf of Scottish
firms through overseas posts under UKTI's Overseas Market Introduction
- Three research projects were offered to Scottish
firms under UKTI's Export Marketing Research scheme;
- Four Scottish missions to India, Brazil, Qatar
and China (a total of 34 companies) were supported under UKTI's
Market Visit Support programme.
93. In spite of this, and the current Government's
commitment to place commerce at the heart of foreign policy, Scottish
Ministers have argued that "too much of UK overseas representation
is based on status and power and that's not what Scotland needs"
and that "a Scottish embassy and consular network will focus
more on jobs and trade and promoting Scotland internationally,
with benefits for our economy".
The Deputy First Minister stated that "it is not necessarily
a criticism of the FCO; it is just saying that [...]we would very
much have that focus on trade as a key driver of our diplomatic
To achieve this, Scottish Ministers want to create a new Scottish
overseas network using its existing network of 22 SDI offices
located in large commercial centres as a basis for its diplomatic
estate. This would allow, according to the Deputy First Minister,
"a strong priority [...] on the key markets, the emerging
markets, where it was important for us to be in order to support
and protect our key economic interests".
The Deputy First Minister was not able to provide estimates for
the costs involved in setting up a Scottish overseas diplomatic
presence. Ms Sturgeon stated that in terms of running costs, other
similar, small states like Norway or Denmark spent "in about
the region of £100 million to £200 million".
She told us that "it would certainly be the objective of
an independent Scottish Government to replicate the quality of
the representation that is provided [by the FCO], not necessarily
doing it in exactly the same way with exactly the same property
94. We asked witnesses whether the diplomatic
infrastructure outlined above would deliver the added impact and
influence the Scottish Government aspires to. The FCO told us
that the UK's privileged relationships and diplomatic, consular
and UKTI network delivers benefits to Scottish people and businesses
at home and overseas.
It reasons that it is "difficult to see how those relationships
would be more productive for Scotland than those privileged relationships
the UK currently enjoys with the rest of the world, and particularly
the other major international powers, including the emerging economies".
We also asked Lord Jay for his response to the Scottish
Government's claim that too much of UK representation is based
on status and power as distinct to "what Scotland needs".
He reasoned that:
You don't want status and power for its own sake.
You want status and power because that enables you to exert the
influence you need to exert to bring about the policies you want
to have executed. They do not stand on their own. You can call
it what you like, but what you want is to have the impact in a
country which enables you to go and talk to the people who really
count and say, "This is what we need," and get a receptive
response. You do not necessarily need to have a traditional embassy
structure to do that, but it very often helps.
Scale and costs
95. Replicating the FCO's quality of representation
would involve, according to the FCO itself "change of considerable
Professor Rose wrote that it would involve "creating almost
from scratch the full panoply of representation currently provided
by the UK Government".
Although there is no fixed rule about how many embassies and ambassadors
a state should have, by way of comparison Finland has 93 posts
(although they are due to be cut because of budgetary pressures),
Austria has 82 and Ireland 73.
The Scottish Government has not detailed how many embassies in
total it would seek to have. Scotland would also need to establish
representations to key international organisations such as the
UN, Commonwealth and NATO and many of the other key international
agencies based in New York, Geneva and Vienna. In terms of the
EU, Professor Rose expected that Scotland would need to establish
and staff major embassies in up to two dozen national capitals.
He also anticipated that its permanent representation office in
Brussels would need to be eight to ten times larger than its existing
mission. He added
It is a diplomatic truism that to represent a country
it is necessary to be present, whether or not the EU committee
meeting is one in which a country has an interest. It is necessary
to monitor Commission preparations of proposals; the reaction
of home departments affected by a specific Commission proposal;
and the position that other countries are likely to take on an
issue that makes them suitable partners in an alliance based on
common interests. All of this takes time and skilled staff. 
96. As Lord Jay noted, this would amount to the
creation of "a reasonably sized diplomatic service just to
do what would need to be done".
Resources could be optimised through the European External Action
Service or by working diplomatically with other states. However,
Lord Jay warned this would still have significant cost and security
Scotland would also need to recruit specialist staff including
raised the possibility that some FCO staff may wish to leave and
join a new Scottish diplomatic service
but the FCO was clear that its personnel could not be compelled
to join a new service.
97. Witnesses agreed that it was possible to
create a different model of overseas representation but cautioned
that in addition to annual running costs there would need to be
substantial capital investment. Unlike states such as Denmark
which have built up their overseas networks over centuries, an
independent Scotland would incur significant one-off costs if
it was to acquire from scratch comparable properties, equipment
and staff. All of this would also need to be achieved as a matter
of urgency, concurrently with creating new ministries in Edinburgh.
Although the Scottish Government could reduce some costs through
its plans to use its existing 22 SDI offices, Lord Jay noted that
these are not all in capital cities and are therefore not always
best suited to non-commercial activity.
98. There is no reason in principle
why Scotland could not set up a fully functioning and successful
diplomatic service if it became an independent country but, in
the absence of a coherent and costed diplomatic vision, Scottish
voters should be under no illusion about the significant resources
that would be required to fulfil the Scottish Government's aim
of replicating the quality of the business and consular support
currently provided by the FCO and UKTI.
Seasoned and experienced diplomats who can influence agendas through
longstanding cultural, linguistic political awareness are the
product of many years of training which cannot be replicated cheaply
or quickly, as the FCO knows only too well. Independence may provide
Scotland with an opportunity to pursue more innovative forms of
diplomatic representation, but there would inevitably be trade-offs.
It takes more than good will and soft power to seal deals internationally
and Scotland would be starting from scratch in this regard, a
fact that would not be lost on the many Scottish businesses that
currently benefit from the FCO's support and the many Scottish
nationals who use the FCO's consular services.
IN THE EU: DOES A DIRECT VOICE EQUATE
99. The Scottish Government has asserted that
Scottish interests would be better represented by an independent
Scottish presence in the EU rather than as part of the UK. Speaking
in January 2013, the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, argued
that "it is only a Yes vote for an independent Scotland at
the referendum next year that will ensure Scotland's voice is
always heard at the top tables of Europe".
Giving oral evidence to us, Ms Sturgeon referred to research that
suggests that small states in Europe have been more successful
in negotiating legislation than some of the larger states, in
order to reinforce her view that "states can be influential
in Europe notwithstanding the relative smallness of their territory
She also told us that:
The starting point of Scotland right now is as a
country as part of the UK that has significant responsibilities
in devolved areas where it is often in our interest and would
be in our interest to argue a case directly before the European
Union, in the Council for example, where our ability to do so
is heavily restricted. Our Fisheries Minister [...] cannot articulate
and represent the Scottish interests without reference to the
UK Government and does not have the ability to depart from a UK
Government line even if that was in the interests of Scotland.
100. In its written evidence, the FCO defended
the status quo and argued that as one of the largest Member States
in the EU, the UK has a considerable say over policies that have
a particular impact in Scotland such as regulation of the financial
services industry, health and safety regulation affecting the
offshore oil industry and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy
and Common Fisheries Policy.
Mr Lidington also argued that the influence of small Member States
in the EU is variable and heavily dependent on alliances and support
from large Member States.
101. The FCO did acknowledge that in the Council
of the European Union, the main forum for decisions amongst the
Member States, smaller countries have tended to have a higher
voting weight proportional to their population than the larger
ones. However, it also noted that this is set to change in 2014
with the introduction of the new voting system agreed under the
Lisbon Treaty. Under this arrangement, legislative proposals will
in general need to be backed by over 55% of the Member States
and by countries together representing over 65% of the EU's population.
The FCO and a number of witnesses argued that this would tend
to increase the voting weight of the larger Member States, including
the UK, relative to the current position, and would diminish the
voting weight of smaller Member States.
Yet Ms Sturgeon told us that "whether it is under the current
voting arrangements or under the double majority arrangements
that Europe will move to from 2014 onwards, we will have significantly
more influence than we do just now".
102. Witnesses were not convinced that a direct
voice would necessarily equate to a greater influence or an ability
to shape particular policy areas. Professor Rose stated that the
pressure for consensus in EU decision-making and rules for super-majorities
"mean that individual countries, whatever their size, must
form alliances on an issue by issue basis in order to have their
positions incorporated in an EU decision".
Mr Lidington observed that even if Scotland was to find a place
within a coalition of small states, "in raw political terms
it is the leaders of the big Member States who tend to count for
most [...]. Frankly, if you get something where France, Germany
and the UK, or France, Germany, the UK and Poland all line up
together, it is very difficult, even for a coalition of small
Member States, to resist that".
103. Other witnesses argued that even if Scotland
gained a direct voice after independence, on some issues it would
still have "a lot less room to manoeuvre" than a large
although the number of Scottish MEPs would increase substantially,
Professor Rose stated that "the extent to which Scottish
voices would be strengthened [...] depends less on the number
of Scots in a European Parliament of 751 MEPs than it does on
the abilities of the individuals whom parties nominate and Scots
the European Policy Centre observed that:
the UK's voice is heard even on issues such as EU
economic and financial governance, where it has exercised its
opt-out. This occurs not out of politeness but because it is a
big state. Except for those matters where the consent of all members
is required, smaller Scotland could expect no such treatment.
An industry perspective on the
104. In written evidence, the trade body representing
one of Scotland's key industries, appeared content with the support
it currently receives from the FCO. The Scotch Whisky Association
stated that "effective and influential representation"
by the UK on the EU Trade Policy Committee and Market Access Advisory
Committee has been key to tackling market access problems. It
added that "ensuring the UK's trade voice is heard within
the EU is vital given the lead role of the European Commission
and the EU's overseas delegations on trade issues" and that
the support received from UK departments and the UK Permanent
Representation in Brussels on EU internal market issues is "invaluable".
In particular, it praised FCO support in relation to the complex
issues surrounding product labelling and matters relating to EU
105. As far as the EU is concerned,
a direct Scottish voice would not necessarily equate to more influence;
influence is an upshot of many state attributes, not an automatic
by-product of sovereignty. While an independent Scotland could
have a more distinct voice than it does now, that does not mean
that it would be able to alter unilaterally the content of policies
to its own ends. It could be more effective for the Scottish Government
to seek to re-visit existing arrangements on foreign policy in
order to explore whether, working within the parameters of the
current devolution settlement, Scottish interests could be given
a more direct voice on certain issues. We recommend that
in its response to this report the FCO outlines its views on this
92 As at 27 March 2011 the UK's population was 63,181,775,
comprising: England - 53,012,456 (83.9%); Wales - 3,063,456 (4.8%);
Scotland - 5,295,000 (8.4%); Northern Ireland - 1,810,863 (2.9%)1,
ONS Statistical Bulletin 2011 Census: Population Estimates for
the United Kingdom, 27 March 2011, dated 17 December 2012; See
also Ev 97. Back
Ev 75 [FCO] Back
Malcolm Chalmers, "Kingdom's End?", The RUSI Journal,
157:3, 2012, 6-11 Back
Ev 86 Back
Q 339 [David Lidington] Back
Q 338 Back
Q 293 Back
Q 144 Back
Q 74 [Sir Jeremy Greenstock] Back
Q 62 Back
Ev 91 Back
Q 205 Back
Malcolm Chalmers, 'Kingdom's End?', The RUSI Journal, (2012),157:3,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Business Plan 2011-2015, May
Rt Hon Lord Howell of Guildford, HL Deb, 28 April 2011, col 307
Ev 112 Back
Q 58 Back
Ev 79 Back
Ev 112 Back
Ev 75 Back
Q 61 Back
Q 91 Back
Ev 112 Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, The Role of the FCO in UK Government,
Seventh Report of Session 2010-12, HC 665, 12 May 2011, para 21 Back
Ev 112 Back
Q 59 Back
Q 91 Back
Q 185 Back
Evidence submitted to the inquiry can be found on the Committee's
website: www.parliament.uk/facom Back
Q 11 [Dr Murkens] Back
Q 12. Currently Scotland has 6 MEPs, There are 73 UK MEPs. 72
were elected in the European Parliament elections on 4 June 2009.
The UK gained an additional seat in the West Midlands region on
1 December 2011, As a result of the entry into force of the Lisbon
Ev 78 Back
Ev 79 Back
Ev 79. See also Ev 90 [Dr Kenealy]. Back
Ev 91 [Dr Kenealy]; Ev 108 [Dr Zuleeg] Back
Q 56 Back
Q 60 Back
This also includes a Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe) responsible
for resolving possible disagreements over EU affairs between devolved
administrations and the UK Government Back
See for example, 'Scotland's International Framework', Scottish
Government, October 2012 Back
Engel and Parkes, "Accommodating an independent Scotland" Back
'The Anholt - GFK Roper Nation Brands Index(SM): 2012 Report for
Scotland', Scottish Government, 7 December 2012, www.scotland.gov.uk Back
'Your Scotland, Your Future' Scottish National Party, December
Q 170 Back
Ev 74 [FCO] Back
Ev 74 [FCO]. Not all independent states have a single seat. Some
form alliances and are represented by a single state. Back
Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index 2012, 23 October 2012 Back
Ev 114 Back
Q 170 [Dr Kaarbo] Back
Q 173 [Ms Tully] Back
Ev 102 Back
Ev 102 Back
Q 169 Back
Q 157 Back
Ev 76 Back
HL Deb 27 Feb 2012, col WA206 Back
Ev 75 Back
HC Deb, 5 Nov 2012, col 3MC Back
BBC News Online, 25 June 2012 Back
Q 292 Back
Q 292 Back
Q 319 Back
Q 290 Back
Ev 75 Back
Ev 74 Back
Q 201 Back
Ev 76 Back
Ev 101 Back
Q 359 [David Lidington]. See also Ev 102 [Professor Rose]. Back
Ev 101 Back
Ev 102 Back
Q 193 Back
Q 194 Back
Ev 92 [Dr Kenealy] Back
Ev 76 Back
Ev 102 [Professor Rose] Back
Q 193 Back
"Scotland and rUK in EU: co-equal successor states",
SNP Press Release, 19 January 2013 Back
Q 287 Back
Q 288 Back
Ev 74 Back
Q 347 Back
Ev 74 Back
Q 287 Back
Ev 102 Back
Q 365 Back
Q 157 [Catarina Tully] Back
Ev 102 Back
Engel and Parkes, "Accommodating an independent Scotland" Back
Ev 104 Back