On May 14, Richard Lochhead had an article in the Press and Journal in which he argued that a "yes vote" in the forthcoming referendum would mean Scotland would no longer be "a bargaining chip" (where do these people get their vocabulary?) but will be able to negotiate directly. It would appear that he has not noticed how little say any country that is part of the Common Fisheries Policy, i.e. of the European Union has in those negotiations unlike, say, Norway, Greenland, Iceland and even the Faroes. This blog has written on that subject repeatedly so all he or his minions have to do is to read it.
As we have not been able to find a link to it, we have reproduced a copy of the article here and hope our readers can still decipher it if they have not seen the original:
Of far greater importance is the response from FAL that was published on May 16:
Yes Vote means “direct voice”
Richard Lochhead Scottish Fisheries Secretary in today’s P&J “categorically assures” the fishing industry that the SNP will not use our fisheries as a bargaining chip to be traded away in any in EU negotiations.
Can the industry accept the assurance that Scotland will have sovereign control over its own destiny and full control over its fishing quota to protect an historic asset for future generations?
There is no evidence to support this assertion but there is overwhelming evidence to show the disastrous effects of the EU fisheries policy over the last 40 years on the Scottish (and indeed the whole UK) fishing industry and their communities.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr Lochhead is being completely disingenuous. Once more, in the desire to have a seat at the top table, he ignores the non negotiable acquis communautaire - the entire body of EU laws, including all the Treaties, Regulations and Directives passed by the Institutions, as well as Judgements laid down by the European Court of Justice.
The SNP’s slogan “Independence in the EU” is an oxymoron outside the minds of the SNP. There will be no sovereign control.
The acquis for fisheries is free access to waters on a non discriminatory basis for all member states and the EU’s exclusive competence in fisheries. That has not been changed by the so called recent reform of the CFP.
The acquis effectively ensures that the objectives of the Treaties regarding the EU fisheries policy are fulfilled - the political end game of an integrated EU fleet, operating in EU waters under a strategic policy agreed at EU level but giving Member States the semblance of authority by delegating to them implementation powers to operate in a regional context.
So in the face of this, what can Mr Lochhead do to protect the Scottish fishing industry? And it’s not just fishing.
In Treaty after Treaty — Maastricht, Nice, Amsterdam, Lisbon — ever more power has been removed from the UK (and Scotland as part of it) and channelled to the EU be it the economy, immigration, energy, trade, agriculture, fisheries or social policy.
That erosion of powers will continue if an independent Scotland becomes a Member State of the EU.
Outside the EU, on the other hand, an independent Scotland, as part of EFTA or an EEA Associate membership would actually acquire more freedom of action in its own Exclusive Economic Zone.
Perhaps this time Mr Lochhead and his colleagues will pay some attention to the arguments as they come from people who understand the issues.