Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scottish referendum and the next Convention

Tomorrow is a big day for the European Union. If Scottish citizens (including more than 160 thousands non-British ones) vote for the independence, they will launch an unprecedented process within the EU. It will trigger a whole debate about the reorganisation of internal EU affairs. 
If they vote NO, it will trigger a reorganisation of the Great Britain according to the latest promises of the UK leaders. So the reorganisation process is under way, one way or another. 
My sympathy is with the pro-independance vote but not so much because independant Scotland is so dear to me. I could live with both outcomes, whatever the Scotts choose. 
What I am interested in is how such a process would be menaged by the European polity. And it is better to test it with the pragmatic British mind than an emotional Iberic heart (Catalogne). 
Here I come to a second part of this blog. What should be the best platform to deal with a Yes vote of the Scottish voters? I tend to think it should be a Convention. Here are some arguments for this thesis:

1. Whoever followed the discussion about jthe Scottish independance knows that in the discussion rooms part of the public always came from the Cataluna. So whatever comes out of negotiations between London-Brussels-Edinburgh, will be closely followed by Madrid and Barcelona.... Sorry, I meant to say that both Madrid and Barcelona will be part of this process anyway. So the new blueprint will hold for the future. And that is why it is important to set the precedent right! 

2. One of the big discussions about independant Scotland is the question of the British pound. Interestingly, it touches the discussion on the benefits and costs of having a single currency - the Euro. If Scotland is asked to negotiate its terms of accession according to the Maastricht treaty and the Copenhagen criteria, it would be forced to adopt the Euro, which economicaly (access to the British market) is not the best solution. This opens the whole debate about concentric circles in the Union. Should we force all the countries to join all the core policies, or should we allow for flexibility, different speed Europe? Should we allow countries to leave the Euro, without leaving the Union? We should touch on such taboo topics too. 

3. A minor detail which was already discussed in the last Convention. Can we still afford to have a Commissioner from each Member State? Because of the Irish no in their first Lisbon treaty referendum, we have to stick to 28 'ministers' and we are approaching a non-managable number of them in the future. If this logic holds true that each of the 16 German landers (if Germany was to disaggragate) could claim a Commissioner... we would end up in the Commission of 40.... This has to be rationalised somehow. 

4. Of course there is an issue of the potential UK referendum whether to stay in the EU or not. A Convention process would the best forum to discuss the reformed EU at large. It gives the opportunity to cater for the wishes of the British euro-scepticism and the Dutch EU reluctance... 

I advise all of those interested in the topic to follow the streaming of the conference 'We, the citizens: how to let Europeans participate in the future Treaty changes' where different experts discussed not only the question of the Convention, but a European-wide referendum as well. I am particularly enchanted with the speech of Ben Crum (II part, 1:00) where he developes a political perspective of a vulgarisation of the convention method. He says: 'We have to live the fact that democracy is a way.' 
So we cannot pre-define all the results. We have to live both the success and the failure if we want to learn and open the decision process. 
What I find most striking is his idea that also the citizens should be allowed to elect directly their representatives for the next Convention. So are we moving back to the ancient Rome and the idea of people's tribunes? This is a new issue for me that merits a good discussion... 

Let's keep our minds open and see how the future unfolds...