Alex Salmond should factor in an additional hurdle for an independent Scotland to navigate before being able to join the EU.
East European MEPs are telling me that they will insist on transitional measures being applied to any new EU accession state, including Scotland. This is because they had to suffer harsh transitional measures when they joined and they are adamant new Member States can expect no special favours.
When ten East European and other countries acceded to the EU in 2004, subsidies for farmers were phased in over a period of ten years, only reaching parity with the rest of Europe this year. This was also the case for the Bulgarians and Romanians who joined in 2007. Similarly, when Croatia joined the EU last year, they had an additional restriction of 70 per cent placed on their budget for fisheries.
The EU also allows for restrictions on the freedom of movement of workers and a five-year restriction period for transport carriers from new accession states to operate national road haulage services, giving these Eastern European MEPs additional tools with which to make life difficult for Scotland.
An independent Scotland would require the approval of an absolute majority of MEPs before acceding. The cost of achieving this majority support would be the application of these severe restrictions and transitional measures which would devastate our farmers, fishermen, hauliers, and workers.
This isn’t ‘Tory scaremongering’; it’s reality.
Struan Stevenson MEP, The European Parliament, Rue Wiertz, Brussels
We all deserve a second chance
I READ with interest the article on the shamed ex-Hearts player Craig Thomson (News, March 6) and wondered when the persecution of this young man is going to stop.
This is in no way to condone his behaviour at 19 years of age, but I feel he has had enough time to reflect on his crime and should now be given the opportunity to redeem himself in the community.
The many dope peddlars that blight our town have not been as ostracised as this young man.
He is a talented young footballer who had a great future in the crazy world of overpaid young men who find it very difficult to handle the situation of too much money and media spotlight.
The popular press have stories nearly every day of one of them going off the rails in one way or another.
I take my hat off to the players and officials of Arniston Rangers for having the courage and the Christian spirit to give this young man a second chance to rehabilitate himself into the community of caring humanity.
I am sure he will repay them both on and off the field.
WF Taylor, Park Crescent, Bonnyrigg
Salmond’s faux outrage is tough to believe
For over 20 years the BBC in Scotland was led by Blair Jenkins and its flagship GMS programme by Derek Bateman – both now high-profile independence campaigners.
I felt throughout this time that the BBC was biased in favour of the SNP and that these two men in particular were part of that. However, I have friends who think the exact opposite, and I am, therefore, prepared to say that perhaps if the BBC is annoying all sides then they must be doing something right!
The faux outrage from the First Minister over being asked a difficult question by Andrew Marr is too much to take when he gets treated with kid gloves by Radio Scotland every day of the week.
Thomas McCafferty, Drumbrae South, Edinburgh
Post-independence oil fund is pure fantasy
AleX Orr admits in his letter (March 17) that Scotland in 2012-13 had a significantly worse fiscal deficit than the UK – in other words, public spending here is less well covered by taxes raised (including oil revenues!) than it is in UK. The balance in an independent Scotland will have to be covered by borrowing around £10 billion a year and the amount required will be higher per capita than in the UK and we would undoubtedly have to pay a higher interest rate.
As he states, this serious deterioration in Scotland’s position has come about because oil production and revenues plummeted in recent years. They have however been declining for more than a decade and production is now less than half what it was at its peak. In addition it is becoming evermore expensive and difficult to extract new oil finds, so that oil companies make less profit for us to tax.
Yet, in an amazing twist of financial logic Mr Orr takes all this to mean that we need to set up an oil fund. This is pure fantasy. We are spending every penny we raise in taxation in Scotland already and will need to borrow around £10bn every year just to maintain current spending on the NHS, Police, and other public services (not to mention extra spending on all the promises the SNP has made, such as free child care, a Scottish Defence Force, diplomatic service, etc).
The situation will be made even worse by the loss of tax revenue from the likes of Standard Life and others as they more their HQs south.
So my question to Mr Orr is, where is the money to put in an oil fund to come from? Is he suggesting we borrow even more to put it away in an oil fund for a rainy day? That would be ludicrous. I await his answer with interest.
There is nothing to stop Scotland going independent if it wants to, but it is high time people were told the truth, which is that it will be a very tough struggle, many will lose their jobs, and either taxes will rise or public services will be cut.
Donald McBride, Craigleith Hill, Crescent, Edinburgh