Skotlands selvstændighed: Søgen efter egen stat og placering i EU

Therese Lihn Thomsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The 18th September 2014 the Scottish people are being asked ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ and will have to decide whether they want to separate from the United Kingdom. By promising a referendum on independence, the Scottish National Party was elected in 2007 to form the first nationalist government in the devolved Scottish Parliament, and hence the first seeds in quest for independence were sown. Scottish national identity is composed of the rich history it had before entering the Union with England in 1707 where it kept its Presbyterian church, legal and education system, which became symbols of the distinct Scottish identity. In addition, Scotland has a tradition for being more egalitarian than the English and the dissatisfaction with especially conservative Westminster governments has caused the Scots to question their need for being a part of Britain. Because Scotland has its own institutions reflecting and protecting Scottishness and a political culture different from that of the rest of Britain, it has fertilised the ground for seeking a larger extent of coherence between the Scottish nation and the state. Furthermore, the EU plays an important role in Scotland’s strive for independence as being the political and economical alternative to the UK. The focus of this thesis is to uncover the role of the national identity and Scotland’s relationship to the British state in order to explain the strong desire for independence, and how this desire to become an independent state correspond with becoming an independent EU-member state and as a result surrender political sovereignty to the EU. In order to provide reasonable answers and to draw up conclusions, the thesis will use selected historical events as well as using the theoretical approaches of nationalism and European integration. The thesis argues that the reason for seeking independence is that the current status of Scotland in the UK does not apply to their vision of being properly represented neither within the UK nor in the EU. Firstly, Scotland was never culturally integrated in the Union with England because the identity was practised and preserved through the Trinity institutions. Secondly, the difference in the political culture has resulted in a democratic deficit where Scots feel they are not being fairly represented at Westminster. The thesis also argues that a devolved Scotland only can express their views on the British EU-strategies but never decide on the final decisions, as their presence in e.g. the Council of Ministers always has to be approved by the UK minister. Only in the Committee of the Regions does Scotland have a chance of acting on their own, but even though the multi-level governed EU-system provides for a diversity of political actors, the Committee is yet only consultative. The drivers of independence are the SNP who claim Scotland is better represented with a government of their own, but even though the Scottish electorate seem content with their devolved government in power, surveys find that only 32-41 per cent are likely to vote in favour of their devolved government’s main aim. Especially the economy is cause for concern with a yet unresolved division of the North Sea oil between Scotland and England. Despite an ambivalent relationship to the British state, social ties to the rest of Britain seem to play a part as several Scots also feel a sense of having multiple identities, and independence might appear too radical. The thesis raises the question of how the rationale for gaining independence and hence surrender parts of it to a supranational institution can be consistent. Only by being an EU-member state is it possible to influence and decide on the EU-politics. At the same time, the EU-system caters for small states and ensures they are equal to other member states and offers an advantageous political, social and economic framework, which is Scotland’s only real alternative to Britain. In perspective, Scotland’s future within the EU is paradoxically meeting obstacles from the EU itself. The Scottish case is unprecedented and the SNP believe that an independent Scotland will become EU-member automatically. However, the EU has announced that Scotland will have to apply according to the regular procedure as other applicants despite their existing membership, leaving Scotland’s future membership yet unclarified.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages93