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Mobilising for Independence? - The SNP, Europe and Multi-Level Governance

James Smith

Prior to and following the Scottish First Minister's announcement that a referendum on independence would be held in Scotland in 2014 much attention has focussed on the constitutional uncertainties surrounding the conduct of such a referendum and broader debates surrounding the relative pros and cons of secession from the United Kingdom. Within these debates the European dimension has come to assume some prominence and in particular the question as to whether Scotland would have to negotiate its own membership terms of the European Union (EU) upon attaining independence. By comparison, however, relatively little has been said on the various ways in which the Scottish National Party (SNP) has sought to strengthen sub-national inputs to EU policy-making since winning first minority governing status in Scotland (in 2007) and then an outright majority following the May 2011 devolved election. This paper seeks to highlight SNP strategies for optimising inputs to EU policy within the existing framework of multi-level governance in the UK and considers how these strategies may evolve under a future framework encompassing Scotland as an independent member state within the EU.

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