by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Unionist journalists are gleefully reporting that Scotland would need to adopt the Euro if it wants to become a member of the EU. This, to judge from the framing of the headlines, is apparently a bad thing.

Of course, what those screaming headlines don’t tell you is that every country which joins the EU must make a commitment to adopt the Euro as its currency. This commitment is, however, left open-ended, and several countries have still not got around to using the Euro. Sweden, for example, joined the EU in 1995 but still uses its own currency, as does Poland which joined in 2004.

So giving the commitment is one thing, but actually switching to the Euro is quite another, and this is not a new EU regulation, it has been around ever since the Euro became the currency of Europe.

What we are seeing here is another attempt at Project Fear. The big question is why this should strike fear into people. It harkens back to the standard UK tactic of abhorring anything foreign. The Euro is a foreign currency, therefore using it is a bad thing. Yet, over the decades since its introduction, the strength of the Euro has steadily improved against sterling which, as recent events have shown, is far from the stable currency British Nationalists like to think it is.

So would using the Euro be a bad thing? Well, to begin with, an independent Scotland would need its own currency for at least three years before it could even attempt to use the Euro. Having our own currency is vital if we wish to re-join the EU, despite what the Scottish Government seems to think with its bizarre pronouncements that Scotland would re-join the EU while retaining the use of sterling. As many have argued, our own currency is also vital to help us break the shackles of UK economic policies.

Of course there are risks to having your own currency, not least of which is that it could be targeted by speculators. However, given the strength of Scotland’s position regarding the potential to export oil, gas, whisky, salmon and renewable electricity among many others, demand for a Scottish Pound is likely to be high. Would there, then, be any need to move to the Euro after three years? It carries the hallmarks of the disadvantages of using sterling in that it is controlled by the European Central Bank, and some people point to Greece as an example of what can go wrong. This is fair enough except that Greece should never have been allowed to join the Euro currencies in any case since its economic books were doctored to make it appear that it met the criteria. I’d like to think Scotland would go about the change properly.

As far as Scotland is concerned, the Euro should present few problems since our economy would be strong. Ireland manages just fine with the Euro despite not having the many advantages that Scotland possesses.

Personally, switching to the Euro would not bother me overly much. The argument that it means dealing in a different currency to our main export market is not sustainable since we’d have a different currency if we adopted our own Pound. Also, once back in the EU, England would quickly fall away as our main export market, as amply demonstrated by Ireland who now deal mostly with the EU rather than the UK. If Scotland did adopt the Euro, our trading with major exporters like Germany and Netherlands would be much easier, and our exports of food and drink would also find a very large and willing market.

Then there is the spurious argument that people who cross the border regularly would need to use two currencies. As usual, this is portrayed as a problem for Scots even though it is not a problem for people in Ireland or Switzerland who need to use two currencies. Besides, many transactions are electronic nowadays, so carrying cash is not as vital as it used to be.

My only real objection to switching to the Euro after three years is that it would mean two changes of currency within a very short time, and I don’t think that is a great idea politically. But if the EU were to make an exception and let us move from using sterling to using the Euro, then the only reason to fear this is because the Euro is foreign, and foreign things are bad because UK culture says so.

As ever, if it’s in the newspapers and it proclaims some disadvantage to Scotland, it’s probably not worth worrying about.