May 23, 2022
If Scotland became independent and joined the European Union, the border with England would become more important (Photo: Andy Buchanan / AFP via Getty Images)

Professors Katie Hayward, Queen’s University Belfast, and Nicola McAvoy, University of Edinburgh, both border and region experts, worked together to write the report, which was published last week by the UK’s Independent Research Organization in Europe. Was It offers the most authoritative analysis of the Scotland-England border issue so far.

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The report assumes that an independent Scotland will eventually join the European Union, as suggested by the SNP, although this will be a gradual process. Therefore, the Scotland-England border will become the external border of the European Union and will need to be ‘tightened’.

What would it look like in practice? The report states that there will be customs checkpoints on four main trunk roads: M6 / M74; A1 A68 And A6091 / A7.

Trunk roads can be divided into two sections to keep traffic flowing: a ‘green lane’ for those who do not have declared or pre-announced equipment. And ‘Red Lane’ for those who have equipment to advertise.

Short routes could be monitored by cameras. Natural barriers such as mountains and rivers define much of the Scotland-England border, and Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the sea, so the risk of smuggling will be relatively low. However, Scotland and England will need to work closely together on crime, security and border control.

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Boris Johnson further labeled the SNP a “walking ad for Scottish independence”.

Many Scots want to know if they will be able to travel to the rest of the UK without a passport if Scotland becomes independent. The answer is ‘maybe’. The Common Travel Area (CTA) facilitates free movement between the UK and Ireland, including the right to live, work, travel and vote.

In principle, an independent Scotland can negotiate a status similar to Ireland. This means joining the CTA and leaving the EU’s Schengen zone. However, Scotland will not have any automatic right to these concessions from the UK and the EU, and may hold talks on other issues.

If Scotland becomes independent and rejoins the EU, it will regain trade without friction with 31 EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, but will lose trade with England and Wales without friction. will be done.

This is important because 60% of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which now governs trade between the UK and the EU, imposes customs declarations, checks and controls on goods crossing the border. Some Scottish small businesses find the new rules so strict that they close trade across the UK-EU border. Large companies have hired staff to deal with the bureaucracy.

Laws to move animals, animal products and plants across the UK-EU border are particularly cumbersome, as Scottish fishermen and farmers exporting to the EU have already discovered.

It is possible that the UK and the EU will reach an agreement on sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards before any independence vote. If not, trade with England under the current trade and co-operation agreement would severely damage Scotland’s vital agricultural food sector. Transferring agricultural products across the border for different stages of processing will no longer be feasible.

Scotland will also need to work out how to get the goods to the continent. The report identifies three options: to expand direct ferry services to the EU; For sealed trucks to cross the English ‘Land Bridge’; And using the island of Ireland as a ‘land bridge’. Since Britain’s exit from the European Union, new ferry routes have opened up between Ireland and the continent as Holiers seeks to avoid delays and paperwork for Britain’s ‘Landbridge’.

Over time, businesses will adjust and new opportunities will open up. When Ireland joined the European Economic Community in 1973, more than half of its trade was with Britain. Today that number is nine percent. However, this gradual change took 50 years.

The report warns that Scotland should not be expected to imitate Northern Ireland’s special status, with both the UK and the EU stepping into regulatory zones. An exception was made for Northern Ireland due to its violent recent history and the obligations created by the Good Friday Agreement.

If Scotland were to become independent and join the European Union, the EU would expect
Scotland’s status to be a mirror of the Republic of Ireland. While negotiating an opt-out from the Schengen zone is a realistic goal, the rest of the EU’s trade and border rules will need to be fully implemented.

The consequences of borders are as personal as economic. Tightening the borders, with different rules on both sides, will complicate everything from family reunions to amateur gardening shows.

The EU has strict rules for crossing pet borders: dogs must be vaccinated, micro-chipped and have a pet passport. Living in the ‘Borderlands’ will feel the full effect of the harsh border as they cross the border for daily activities like work, shopping, meeting family and walking their dog.

Hayward and McEwan’s report focuses on flawless research, impartiality and practicality. Ultimately, it is up to Scottish voters to decide whether the desire for political independence exceeds the cost and inconvenience of a tight border.

However, there is no excuse for avoiding the inclusion of Hayward and McEwan’s findings in any future white paper on Scottish independence.

Dr. Allison Smith is a political development writer and political analyst.

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