The Guardian APRIL 29, 2021 - by Brian Eno & others


More than a hundred and seventy cultural figures from all EU member states and UK nations call on EU leaders to guarantee Scotland's place in the bloc should it vote to separate from the UK

Dear heads of state and government of the EU, president of the European council, president and members of the European parliament, president and members of the commission,

We are Europeans from across the continent and around the world. Naturally, we disagree about many things. But we all agree on this: we want the people of Scotland to know that Europeans everywhere would welcome them back in the European Union if this is their democratic wish.

In the 2016 Brexit referendum, not a single Scottish district voted to leave, and Scotland as a whole voted by a 62% majority to remain in the EU. In subsequent years, the Scottish parliament rejected the withdrawal process at every stage. Yet in 2020, Scotland was taken out of the European Union alongside the rest of the UK.

When Scots voted to remain in the EU, they did so as part of the United Kingdom. Separating themselves from the UK to become a member state of the EU is a different matter. One that demands its own referendum, which the Scottish parliament and government have formally requested. At present, the UK government refuses to permit this.

We should not stand idle while this impasse lasts. It is an unprecedented development and demands fresh thinking from the EU. Therefore, we call on you to ensure that the EU clearly signals a path for Scotland to become a member in advance of any independence referendum.

The usual process is for the EU to respond to a membership request only when it comes from an independent country.

Scotland deserves a different process. While it is legally part of the UK, the Scottish government cannot negotiate with the EU. But the EU can declare that, because Scotland has already long been part of the EU, should it become legally and democratically independent, it need not apply as a "new" accession candidate. Instead, the EU and its member states should make a unilateral and open offer of membership - an exceptional proposal to match Scotland's exceptional circumstances.

The EU has demonstrated already that it can recognise the unique circumstance created by Brexit. The European council unilaterally confirmed at its summit of April 29, 2017 that Northern Ireland would become part of the EU immediately should it ever vote in the future to join the Republic of Ireland.

The EU should offer as much continuity as possible to Scotland too. This requires creative, practical thinking. No one knows the short and long-term costs of Brexit for Scotland, nor those linked to breaking away from the UK - including issuing a new currency if the Scots so wish (whether or not they eventually join the euro). In light of this, generous terms should be offered to support Scotland's budget in the challenging months of the transition before rejoining the EU.

These are important issues because they will make it possible for any referendum to be a clear, practical and democratic choice for Scotland between two unions, the EU or the UK.

Europeans must always stand for democracy and solidarity. So we call upon you to express our joint solidarity with the citizens of Scotland and to support Scotland's democratic choice about its future.

Anthony Barnett (England) Philippe van Parijs (Belgium) Srecko Horvat (Croatia) Neşe Yaşın (Cyprus) Apolena Rychlikova (Czech Republic) Carsten Jensen (Denmark) Jonathan Coe (England) Brian Eno (England) Neil Gaiman (England) Mary Kaldor (England) Ian McEwan (England) Philip Pullman (England) Adam Tooze (England) Richard Eyre (England) Sofi Oksanen (Finland/Estonia) Catherine Malabou (France) Ulrike Guerot (Germany) Daniel Kehlmann (Germany) Kalypso Nikolaïdīs (Greece) Miklos Haraszti (Hungary) Fintan O'Toole (Ireland) Colm Tóibín (Ireland) Jane Morrice (Northern Ireland) Elena Ferrante (Italy) Saskia Sassen (Netherlands) Slawomir Sierakowski (Poland) Ana Gomes (Portugal) Sam Heughan (Scotland) Jackie Kay (Scotland) Val McDermid (Scotland) Nigel Osborne (Scotland) Brian Cox (Scotland) Slavoj Zizek (Slovenia) Daniel Innerarity (Spain) Laura McAllister (Wales) - plus more than a hundred and forty others.