Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Independent Scotland and the European Union

I went to a very interesting seminar this evening at the Royal Society of Edinburgh - the first of a series titled 'Enlightening the Constitutional Debate'.

Next year, in the autumn, Scotland will get a referendum to decide whether to become an independent nation again, and this seminar was part of 10 leading up to the referendum.

Few Scots were permitted to determine the union of the parliaments, over 300 years ago in 1707 and I've wondered which way my ancestors would have voted if they had had the choice. Like most people I haven't got that far back in my family history so the question is moot. My maternal grandparents, who died more than 20 years ago were fiercely divided about the independence question.

This evening was about Scotland and the European Union (EU). The Royal Society's president, Sir John Peebles Arbuthnott opened the proceedings and the seminar was presented by Prof Diana Panke, Professor of Political Science, University of Freiburg; Prof Neil Walker, Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations, University of Edinburgh; Graham Avery, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford & European Policy Centre, Brussels and chaired by Peter Jones, a freelance journalist for The Scotsman, The Economist and The Times. There were about 160 people present and Sir John Arbuthnott said that they could have filled the rooms twice over.

We heard from the presenters about the legal position regarding Scottish membership of the EU and the terms and political issues; the process by which and independent Scotland would become an EU member state and the influence of small states in the EU.

The proceedings and the questions videoed and will be made available on the Royal Society of Edinburgh's website, and this will happen for future events too.

I met people from The Czech Republic and Poland, and I heard French and Spanish being spoken so clearly this decision is important not just for the Scots but also for our immigrants, too.

If you're interested in family or local history or migration, take part in our Conference on 11th May 2013 in Galashiels, Scotland.

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