An independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union would be straight-forward and in Denmark’s national interest, according to Danish academics and politicians. In a series of exclusive interviews with National Collective, members of the government, opposition and academics from the University of Copenhagen made it clear that Scotland would be welcome in international organisations. This follows supportive comments from the new Prime Minister of Iceland, who said Iceland would “welcome Scotland with a new thriving relationship” in the event of independence.
Growing interest in Scotland within the Nordic nations is a boost to the campaign for independence, which looks to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland as examples of successful independent countries.
Rasmus Helveg Petersen MP, the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Social Liberals – who are part of the Danish government – stated that in the event of independence
Scottish membership of the EU would be a mere formality.”
Jakob Ellemann-Jensen MP, the Venstre Spokesperson on European Affairs and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said
Should Scotland vote for independence it would only be natural for Denmark to acknowledge this independence and to welcome Scotland in both the EU in accordance with the Copenhagen Criteria and also in NATO.”
Venstre are Denmark’s largest parliamentary party.
A source within the Danish government – when questioned on Scottish independence – stated that “we are following this with great interest”, yet did not wish to be drawn on further statements at this time.
Professor Lars Bo Kaspersen, Head Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, said that
Scottish EU membership would be in the Danish interest. I think it could be a fairly quick transition. I’m sure that the European Union in general would strongly support Scottish membership and the same goes for NATO. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t think it was a good idea.”
This view was backed up by Professor Mikel Rasmussen.
Scottish legislation is suitable for membership equal to that of the United Kingdom. When it comes to NATO and the EU, if Scotland wants it, it would not be in anyone’s interest to not let them in. If Croatia can be part of the EU of course Scotland can be. I find questions over membership to be a non-issue.”
These views contrast sharply with the doom-laden pronouncements of Westminster politicians who claim that an independent Scotland would be isolated and frustrated by barriers to EU and NATO membership.
The Copenhagen Criteria set down the requirements for EU membership. Rasmus Petersen MP, when asked whether this process would be prolonged or clear for Scotland, replied
It would be very clear. In the case that Norway wanted to become a member of the EU, for instance, it could happen overnight.”
When asked whether Scotland could become a member “overnight” Petersen stated
If Scotland wants it, yes. It would be a mere formality.”
There was also great interest in Denmark in developing closer cooperation with Scotland within the Nordic Council and the Arctic region. Søren Espersen, the deputy leader of the DPP, said that
There’s lots of opportunities. We are so close to each other in so many ways. There will immediately be a close connection. I know that the Danish government will accept straight away that Scotland could be a member of the Nordic Council.”
The Arctic region is of growing significance to environmental policy makers. It was highlighted as a weak-point within the UK Strategic Defence Review.
The Scottish government are following Nordic development with great interest, as they consider how an independent Scotland’s can strengthen relationships with its neighbours. A number of projects – such as Nordic Horizons and Common Weal – also seek to translate the success of Nordic models to Scotland. They argue that Scotland can be a more prosperous and equal country, while providing a just contribution to global affairs.
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— Michael Gray (@GrayInGlasgow) July 10, 2013