Monday, 18 August 2014

Why Scotland should be free?



Having read the interesting analysis of Ian Bell on the Herald (6th August) on the referendum for Scottish independence, I would like to contribute the following views to the public arena of arguments.

Since my early PhD years back in 1993, (my first supervisor was from Edinburgh) I started learning about the culture of Scotland. Then, I had the chance to work in Durham as a post-doctoral researcher under the supervision of a Scottish Professor and since then I have been collaborating with colleagues on this side of the borders. This little intro might bore some of the readers but I would like to mention it to show that my views for the “yes” vote are not sentimental but mostly data and experience derived.

Today, Scotland is facing a huge dilemma, to stay as she is in the UK or try to fly with her own wings. Let's see both options, having in mind three dynamic sectors of Scotttish economy, i.e. Universities, Aquaculture and Whiskey Industry.

If Scottish people say “No” on the 18th of September, nothing will change. According to a recent study by the company “Prognos AG” for the German institute “Bertelsmann Stitung”, the positive effect of the common market in EU and the common currency on the national GDP for several countries has been assessed for the period 1992-2012. The countries that have benefited most are Denmark and Germany where their annual GDP per capita has grown on average 500 and 450 euros, respectively, for all these 20 years! On the other end of the scale, the countries that have gained the least are Spain, Greece and Portugal with annual GDP per capita growth on average 70, 70 and 20 euros, respectively. At the very bottom of the list of this study is ...Great Britain with an annual GDP per capita growth of just 10 euros! Practically, the British people (and the people in Scotland) have not gained financially anything by EU!

Let's see now what will happen if Scottish people vote “Yes”.

First of all, a debate will automatically start on whether it would be beneficial for Scotland to join the euro and abandon the pound. Despite the facts that EU is practically run by the Commission and Commissioners (people who are not democratically elected but nominated!) and some bureaucratic (i.e. arteriosclerotic) procedures in Brussels and Strasbourg. Scotland would flourish if she joins the euro! This can be easily assessed by the fact that the Scottish economy is practically an extrovert economy with high income gained via tourism and exports (fish, whiskey and … education).
A lot of economists talk about the North Sea oil and gas, but they do not talk about the salmon and the biggest trademark of Scotland which is “the water of life” (i.e. whiskey). The exports on these two goods would significantly increase should Scotland abandon the overvalued pound and join the euro. This is what the Danish and German companies have done in the last 20 years and this is the underlying reason of their economic growth (see paragraph above).

Last but not least, are the Universities! Scotland should be proud of the Scottish Universities, some of them are top in Europe and they can now attract the best students and best scientists around the globe! And if these Universities start get funding from Research Councils run by Scottish people (or at least people living on this side of the borders), hence people who can understand better the idiosyncracy of the Scottish country (e.g. University of the Highlands and the Islands is scattered around the north of Scotland without a main campus!) and the special needs but also philosophy and culture of each educational organisation, then the Universities will further flourish and this is going to be of great benefit for the local society and Scotland!

Ioannis Zabetakis
Assistant Professor of Food Chemistry
Univ. of Athens,
Athens, Greece
izabet@chem.uoa.gr


[the text above had been sent 10 days ago to the letters@theheralrd.co.uk but has not been published there, so it is today published on this blog]


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