Annex 2: Why Scotland, a wealthy and productive country, can be influential in EU Decision-Making
Following independence Scotland would become a full Member State within the European Union. With a population of over 5 million, an independent Scotland would take its place alongside the 12 other Member States which are of similar size (Denmark, Finland and Slovakia) or significantly smaller than Scotland (Cyprus, Malta, Luxembourg). Indeed it is worth noting that sixteen Member States have populations of less than 10 million - that is more than half of all EU Member States. These range from Hungary with around 10 million to Malta with a population of just over 400,000 - less than 10% of Scotland's population.
As highlighted by the Fiscal Commission Working Group Scotland is, by international standards, a wealthy and productive country:
- In terms of GDP per capita, Scotland was positioned as the third highest nation or region in the UK in 2011; and with an illustrative geographic share of North Sea Output it is estimated that Scotland would be ranked 8th in terms of GDP per capita in the OECD in 2011.
- Productivity levels (measured as GDP per hour worked) in Scotland were the same as UK levels in 2011.
- Scotland's employment rate of 72.8% (for the population aged 16-64) in June-August 2013 was higher than the UK rate (of 71.7%).
As highlighted below, Scotland is a country with considerable strengths and potential. Drawing on these, Scotland would have a great deal to offer as an independent Member State.
Scotland has many strengths - ingenuity, natural resources and competitive advantages across a range of growth sectors - that would be invaluable as a constructive and active independent member of the EU.
- Scotland has 25% of Europe's off-shore wind and tidal resource and also 10% of Europe's wave resource.
- There are estimated to be up to 24 billion barrels of oil to be extracted from the North Sea.
- Scotland is a world-leader in the fast growing green technology sector.
- Scotland has an international reputation for producing quality goods and services.
- Boasts a tourism industry which employs almost 200,000 people and is a country that is famed across the world for its beauty and hospitality.
- Scots have been among the greatest entrepreneurs and innovators the world has ever seen.
- Scottish innovators are responsible for pioneering the ATM, Cloning (Dolly the Sheep), MRI scanning, penicillin, and television.
World-class Education System
- Scotland's universities are renowned for their excellence and continually punch above their weight internationally. In the latest Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings five of our universities feature in the top 200, reinforcing the success of Scotland's universities highlighted in the 2013-14 QS university rankings that ranked the University of Edinburgh 17th in the world and which showed improved standings in the top 150 for the universities of Glasgow, St Andrews and Aberdeen.
- Moreover, when adjusted for population, Scotland has more universities in the Times Top 200 world universities per head of population than any other country
- Due to existing comparative advantages or the potential to capitalize on Scotland's unique assets, certain sectors offer particular opportunities for growth.
- These seven growth sectors include Life Sciences, Creative Industries, Food and Drink, Energy, Financial and Business Services, Tourism and Universities.
For the purposes of analytical clarity, in this chapter we adopt the distinction that is conventionally made in the EU decision-making literature between "big" and "small" EU Member States, where size is a direct function of population. Accordingly in that literature a distinction is drawn between the "big" population countries such as France and Germany on the one hand, and the relatively smaller countries in population terms such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark on the other hand. As we demonstrate in this annex, it is clear is that population difference per se (i.e. size) is not translated into any systematic advantage, or disadvantage, when it comes to the outcomes of EU-level negotiations. Instead a range of factors other than size are found to be more significant in determining negotiated outcomes.
Indeed it is one of the many myths surrounding the EU legislative and policy process that the few relatively "large" EU Member States (such as France, Germany, the UK) tend to dominate EU legislative and policy negotiations - especially in the Council of the EU - with the smaller Member States having little effective influence in these discussions and outcomes.
The assumption that only "size matters" in EU-level negotiations has led opponents of Scotland's independence to assert that an independent Scotland would have little influence, and so be less able to protect its EU interests, in Council negotiations than at present. In fact, the evidence does not support this assertion. Indeed, if anything the evidence demonstrates the opposite - that smaller Member States, especially those like Scotland with a history of EU-level engagement and expertise, can be more successful at negotiating EU legislation than larger Member States.
Sweden managed to be very influential in the debate around the revision of the old pesticide regime within the EU in 2006. Denmark, Luxemburg and Sweden pushed for stricter regulation of pesticides whereas the UK, Ireland, and Poland among others pushed for less stringent rules. Sweden conducted its own large-scale study on the effect of pesticides and the results from this study became a strong scientific argument in negotiations. The fact that Sweden based its arguments on the study made the Swedish Government appear impartial and not driven by national self-interests. The stricter regulations were adopted as a result.
Denmark was successful as a broker in negotiations over the definition of Vodka. Poland, the Baltic countries, Sweden and Finland were pushing for a stricter definition of vodka only being made from potatoes and cereals whereas the UK, France and Spain among others were backing a wider definition, including grapes and sugar cane. Sweden tried to frame the arguments technically and scientifically in terms of taste differences which was unsuccessful as there was no agreement on the taste issue. In the end, the matter was resolved by Denmark. Rather than putting forward scientific arguments, the Danes framed the issue in terms of fairness and norms. The solution was the requirement to state 'vodka made from…' on any bottles containing vodka from alternative materials. Since Denmark does not have a substantial vodka industry, it was considered neutral in the negotiations and was taken seriously by the other states.
Independence will allow the Scottish Government to take its place alongside all other EU Member States - many of which have smaller populations than Scotland - at the heart of the EU decision-making process.
Scotland in the EU: from dependence to independence
Under devolution the Scottish Government is entirely dependent on the UK Government to represent its EU legislative and policy interests within the EU decision-making process. At the apex of that process is the Council of the European Union, where Ministers from national governments negotiate and agree a common position on specific legislative and policy proposals - including any amendments proposed by the European Parliament. The overwhelming proportion of EU legislation, including almost all internal market rules, is subject to qualified majority voting in the Council. In practice however, the Council seldom reverts to a formal vote. Instead the Member States seek to find a consensus outcome - not least because this strengthens the Council's collective position in later negotiations with the European Parliament with which it shares the role as EU legislator across a wide range of policy (including internal market) issues. Presently the Scottish Government has no right to attend, or to participate, in these key Council discussions, despite their importance to Scotland's national interest. With independence this would change, and the Scottish Government would be present at all Council negotiations ensuring Scotland's interests are represented across the wide range of policy issues on which the EU is competent to pass laws and make policy.
Although the Council is the EU's senior law making body, a considerable amount of preparatory work is undertaken by officials from Member State governments (and the EU Institutions) whose task is to find compromises and agree common positions on legislative and policy proposals ahead of Ministerial-level discussions. Independence would also ensure officials from the Scottish Government also attended these meetings which constitute a central element in the representation of national interests in the overall EU law and policy-making process.
The Council of the EU is the forum where a range of key decisions are taken that impact directly on Scotland. The Council passes EU laws; coordinates the economic policies of the Member States; signs agreements between the EU and other countries; approves the annual EU budget; develops EU foreign and defence policies; and, coordinates between the courts and police forces of the Member States.
Independence would transform Scotland's representation in these EU negotiations. With independent EU membership it would fall to Scotland's government to represent directly Scotland's interests in all EU-related affairs such as fisheries, agriculture, energy, justice and home affairs. Scotland's interests would be looked after by a government directly elected by the people of Scotland rather than by a UK Government that is out of touch with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Scotland.
The fallacy that "size matters" in EU decision-making
Critics argue that independence will weaken Scotland's voice in EU negotiations and that by being part of the UK delegation Scotland currently can "punch above its weight" in EU legislative and policy discussions and that "smaller" EU Member States are disadvantaged in EU negotiations. The basis of this assertion is that because, under the current procedures, votes in the Council are weighted according to population size an independent Scotland with a population of around 5 million will find itself less able to defend its interests than it would through remaining part of one of the EU's 'larger' Member States.
This, it is claimed, is important because most decisions reached in the Council formally fall under the Qualified Majority Vote (QMV) procedure. However, this claim is incorrect for two basic reasons. First, it ignores the long-standing convention that the Council reaches the overwhelming majority of its decisions through consensus. A formal vote is very seldom held - and even when a vote is called the arithmetic of the QMV system ensures that even where the larger Member States do share a common position - and there is no particular reason why they should - they nonetheless require the support of a number of smaller Member States before the qualified majority threshold is reached. Second, and more significantly, arguing that 'size' equates to 'influence' in the EU decision-making process is to fundamentally misunderstand and misrepresent the sources of national influence in the EU negotiating and decision-making process.
There are three basic fallacies in the "size matters" argument leveled by opponents of Scottish independence.
The first fallacy is the assumption that the UK Government will always agree outcomes in EU negotiations that are in Scotland's interests, and that these outcomes could not be secured if Scotland becomes an independent Member State.
It is simply not the case that the negotiating position the UK Government adopts in Council necessarily reflects the interest of Scotland. Under independent EU membership, Scotland would be free to adopt a different position from rUK on EU proposals and align itself with those Member States whose position most closely accords with its own. In that case, the prospects that the EU policy ultimately agreed will more closely meet the position advocated by the Scottish Government are increased.
A divergence of views - Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Budget
Launched in 1962, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a partnership between agriculture and society, between Europe and its farmers. Its main aims are: to improve agricultural productivity, so that consumers have a stable supply of affordable food and to ensure that EU farmers can make a reasonable living.
The CAP's budget is spent in 3 different ways:
- Income support for farmers whereby farmers receive direct payments, provided they live up to strict standards relating to food safety, environmental protection and animal health and welfare. These payments are fully financed by the EU, and account for 70% of the CAP budget.
- Market-support measures: these come into play, for example, when adverse weather conditions destabilise markets. Such payments account for less than 10% of the CAP budget.
- Rural development measures: these are intended to help farmers modernise their farms and become more competitive, while protecting the environment, contributing to the diversification of farming and non-farming activities and the vitality of rural communities. These payments are part-financed by the member countries, generally extend over a number of years, and account for some 20% of the CAP budget.
Scotland has a diverse agriculture sector that faces distinct challenges, operating with a limited amount of high grade arable land. Financial support via the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is therefore hugely important to the viability of many of Scotland's farms which in turn are an important part of the fabric of many rural areas.
By refusing to acknowledge the critical and transformative potential of CAP in Scotland - both in terms of direct payments to farmers (CAP Pillar 1) and rural development support for businesses and communities (CAP Pillar 2), successive UK Governments have failed to negotiate better deals for Scotland in Europe. As a result, Scotland has the lowest per hectare rate of support for rural development in the EU and the third lowest in the EU for direct payments to farmers. Within the current constitutional set-up this position is not set to improve with the UK Government pressing for the eventual removal of all CAP payments, except those that deliver environmental benefit.
An independent Scotland, with its own seat in the Council, would work directly with other like-minded Member States and develop alliances to help deliver better outcomes for Scotland. For example, if Scotland had been independent when the last CAP budget was being decided it would, in time, have qualified for the €196 per hectare minimum payment and as a result Scotland would have received an extra €1 billion between 2014 and 2019.
The story is similar on support for rural development (CAP Pillar 2). Scotland's share of the Pillar 2 budget for 2014-2020 equates to around 12 euros per hectare. This is lower than every Member State's allocation, and less than one-sixth the EU average of 76 euros.
Despite having less than 25% of the agricultural land of the UK, Ireland has provisionally negotiated a €2 billion allocation for rural development. Ireland is a country, of similar size of Scotland. This highlights what Scotland could achieve as a similar sized Member State at future negotiations.
This isn't simply an issue about subsidy. It's about a future Scotland, that would be a net contributor to the EU budget. It's about Scotland, as a Member State, being prepared to negotiate better outcomes for its farmers and its rural areas, putting them on a level playing field with their counterparts in Europe.
Where Scotland's post-independence EU interests do converge with the rUK Government position, an independent Scottish Government will have the option of aligning itself (and casting its vote accordingly if necessary) with the rUK Government and all other governments who share the same position.
With independence the Scottish Government can therefore never find itself in a less advantageous position in EU negotiations than at present, where it has no formal influence over EU decisions. Under independent EU membership, not only will the Scottish Government be able to negotiate on an equal footing with all other EU partner countries on the basis of Scotland's national interest, in the event that a vote is called in Council the Scottish Government will be able to align itself with whatever position best protects that national interest. This would include the rUK if that were the appropriate strategy, but otherwise not. Independent EU membership can therefore only improve Scotland's representation in the EU; it cannot make it less advantageous.
Changes to voting systems in the Council
In 2014 the qualified majority voting system in the EU Council will change from the current system in which a Member State is allocated a number of Council votes according to its size, to a voting system based on the "double majority" principle. Under this simpler regime, a qualified majority will be achieved if the proposal commands a "double majority" - defined as 55% of Council members (with each member having one vote) which together comprises a minimum of 65% of the population of the Union.
The counterpart of a qualified majority in Council is what is referred to as a "blocking minority" - i.e. the minimum number of votes required to block a proposal being agreed upon in Council. Under the new procedure a blocking minority requires at least four Council members representing more than 35% of the population of the Union.
The shift to a double majority system of Council voting poses no challenge to the advantages to Scotland of independent EU membership. Indeed, it is more likely to strengthen the role that smaller states play in the wider EU negotiating process. As under the current voting regime, an independent Scotland will be able to negotiate based on Scotland's national interest and, should a vote be called, align itself to whatever compromise position most closely approximated that interest.
The second flaw is the presumption that the decisions taken by the Council tend to favour the preferred position of the larger Member States - i.e. that the larger EU Member States consistently achieve more of what they want from Council negotiations than do smaller Member States.
In fact, recent evidence points to precisely the opposite conclusion - namely that the "smaller" EU states can be more successful than their larger counterparts in this respect. If the only "winners" from the process of European integration were the large Member States then the EU as a whole would quickly have lost its political legitimacy.
Research has demonstrated that smaller Member States achieve success when they adopt an appropriate strategy with respect to the EU policy-making process. The main elements of such a strategy are:
- Having a high level of domestic expertise in EU policies and having a solid record of competence in implementing EU legislation;
- Being active early in the cycle of legislative and policy debates and utilising the experience and reputation of long and effective membership;
- Exploiting national sources of scientific and policy expertise to influence legislative and policy proposals being developed by the European Commission;
- Using domestic institutions and officials to produce timely, high-quality negotiating positions;
- Engaging in the range of expert networks associated with the EU policy-making process, especially those surrounding the European Commission; and
- Building and coordinating a consensus with other Member States, especially in Council working groups.
As an independent Member State Scotland has the attributes that are recognised as necessary if a Member State government is to be well positioned to make a substantial contribution to the EU policy process.
Over the 40 years since Scotland became part of the EU, the Scottish Government and a range of private companies and public bodies have built up a very high level of expertise in, and competence and influence over, EU legislative and policy matters. Scotland is home to many expert agencies, research institutions and private sector companies and organisations very capable of making a substantial input to EU policy negotiations.
Equally, the Scottish Government has a permanent presence in Brussels. The Scottish Government European Union Office (SGEUO) supports Government work on EU policy by helping officials strengthen their relationships with the EU Institutions and the UK Permanent Representation to the EU (UKRep) and other Member State and sub-Member State representations.
Open Innovation Project
Scotland has a track record of delivering in partnership with other Member States. Through the Interreg IVB North West Europe funded Open Innovation Project (total project value of €8,407,809.40), the City of Edinburgh Council has brought together a partnership of local governments, universities, business support services and other public bodies across the UK, France, Germany, Ireland and Belgium.
The project creates new businesses and jobs through supporting co-creation and commercialisation, focusing on the development of new products and services.
Open Communities: bringing together diverse groups to tackle societal challenges and create new value through innovation.
Open Business: helping SMEs become more competitive by adopting open innovation techniques and strategies. This includes specialised workshops, networking events and one-to-one mentoring.
Open Research: promoting entrepreneurship amongst students and researchers in the higher education sector and commercialisation of the academic knowledge base.
Project achievements to date in Edinburgh are:
22 new jobs created;
19 new business start-ups;
50 new products or services;
96 activities and events run
Local partners are University of Edinburgh, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, International Science Festival, Cultural Enterprise Office, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Edinburgh Science Triangle.
Scotland - an advocate for the Environment in Europe
Progressive action on protecting and enhancing the environment, led by the Scandinavian countries, has been one of Europe's success stories. The quality of our natural environment is dependent on actions by all European partners to reduce pollution to the environment and support biodiversity. Scotland is a country rich in natural resources and these play an important role in its economy and identity. As such, the Scottish Government places emphasis on improving Scotland's environment, which is demonstrated by Scotland's progress towards its climate change commitment - Scotland is at the top of the EU-15 league table for emissions reductions. Between 1990 and 2011, emissions in Scotland fell by 29.6%. This is the largest reduction among EU-15 Member States, and higher than the EU-27 Member States average of 17.1%, when emissions from international aviation and shipping and land use are factored in. An independent Scotland with a seat at the table would join other nations, in advocating EU progress on protection and improvement of the Environment in Europe and sustainable economic growth.
Environmental Impact Assessment Directive
The Scottish Government has been active in streamlining the process of managing planning and energy consenting requirements. Following the Lewis Wind farm case in 2008, where a major wind farm was refused planning permission because of incompatibility with the Habitats Directive, the Scottish Government has put in place a new management system. This system manages the impact of proposed developments in partnership with key stakeholders so that a range of economic, energy and environmental objectives can be reconciled. In Lewis itself a series of major projects has now been approved in a way which meets both community and environmental concerns. The Scottish Government led the EU-funded GP Wind project, which brought together diverse stakeholders from around Europe to develop best practice in reconciling objectives on wind energy with wider environmental objectives. This has led to comprehensive online guidance for dealing with environmental issues, which has in turn led to further significant improvements relating to environmental engagement. The Scottish Government is now engaging with the UK Government and European Partners to promote a more streamlined approach to the revision of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, to ensure that better regulation is a key theme of the Seventh Environmental Action Programme.
Despite success in this field, Scotland is still regarded as a region within Europe. An independent Scotland, free to negotiate in the Council of Ministers, will be a voice for high ambition on de-carbonisation of electricity through renewables and Carbon Capture and Storage, improved interconnection, and long term EU energy security through full exploitation of Scotland's oil and gas and renewables resources. In contrast, successive UK governments have tried to resist EU efforts to raise our ambition on using our huge renewable resources to guarantee EU energy security; instead distorting the internal energy market to enable subsidies for wasteful, insecure forms of energy, such as nuclear power.
The third flaw is the erroneous assumption that the smaller EU Member States do not exercise leadership and influence over the legislative and policy direction taken by the EU. In fact all Member States, regardless of size, have a range of opportunities to shape EU initiatives and strategic direction.
Regardless of its population size, a Member State can provide leadership in a specific EU policy area by making its domestic expertise available to the European Commission during the important pre-legislative phase of the law-making cycle. Individual countries can also act as "role models" for EU policy-makers where they have developed innovative scientific or legislative approaches to successfully tackling particular challenges. Moreover it is the nature of the EU policy-making process that all Member States have to build coalitions of support around a specific initiative or policy approach it wishes to champion at EU level.
Under independence the Scottish Government would be well positioned to contribute to EU policy development as it has done, albeit to a lesser extent, throughout its 40 years within the EU.
Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) European Lead Factory Programme
Scotland is a major partner in the IMI European Lead Factory programme which aims to speed up the development of new drugs. This pan-European programme will pool the best resources from across Europe and represents a new innovative approach to drug discovery. Scotland is at the heart of the programme with the establishment of the project's European Screening Centre based at BioCity Scotland and Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance's (SULSA) scientists, through the University of Dundee, carrying out an essential programme screening and medicinal chemistry activities for the project.
It is anticipated this will create up to 40 new jobs and direct investment of £16.3 million will be received from the European IMI programme. It will also see the project's Scottish partner, BioCity Scotland, emerge as a growing international life sciences hub and underlines SULSA's growing international reputation in this field.
Individual Member States, regardless of size, also have the opportunity to influence the EU's strategic direction during the 6-monthly period in which they hold the Presidency of the EU Council. Although the principal task for the Member State holding the presidency is to ensure the collective business of the EU is advanced effectively and efficiently, it also provides an opportunity for the Member State to initiate or prioritise EU-wide discussion on matters that they regard as of particular importance. An excellent example of the important role smaller EU Member States can play in this respect has recently been demonstrated by Ireland. In the first 6 months of 2013, Ireland held what is now regarded as one of the most successful Presidencies of the Council of the EU, achieving progress on a wide range of significant and complex portfolios, not least securing agreement on the new multi-annual financial framework and furthering reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy.
Leadership through Alliance - Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)
The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is perhaps one of the more contentious of the EU polices. Legislation can often be inflexible and complex, with a plethora of derogations. The Scottish Government recognises that sea fishing in Scotland will only be sustainable if shared polices at EU level are more flexible and managed to better effect.
Denmark, a country comparable in size to Scotland and a respected fishing nation, has long played a leading role in helping to shape the EU's fisheries policies. Recently it has been a pivotal player in the development of policy on discard-free fisheries, reform of the Cod Recovery Plan and regional-level decision-making. During the Danish EU Presidency in 2012 the Danes led key changes in European Fisheries Policy by building alliances and seeking compromises between Member States to influence the Commission.
Scotland and Denmark have worked closely together on many of these issues and often share a common approach to fisheries management, such as advanced measures to prepare for discard free fisheries by trialling CCTV systems onboard vessels. Like Denmark, Scotland is a key fishing nation in Europe, and with independence the Scottish Government would be better able to build its alliances with other like-minded Member States to fundamentally shape the future of EU fisheries policy and bring decision-making affecting Members States' fisheries closer to home.
Fisheries is six times more important to the Scottish economy than to the UK economy. This means that an independent Scotland would naturally give international fisheries management a level of priority and undiluted focus not afforded by the UK Government, where fisheries, as a relatively small UK sector in relation to other sectors, is simply not afforded the importance and profile it holds within Scotland.
An example of how Scotland fares as part of the UK can be found in the case of the European fisheries funding received by Scotland in comparison to other EU Member States. Under the current arrangements negotiated by the UK our share of the EU's European Fisheries Fund is one third of the share received by Denmark (a country of comparable size to Scotland) and less than half the allocation given to Latvia (a country less than half the size of Scotland by population.)
A successor to the European Fisheries Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, will commence in 2014. An independent Scotland would ensure that it negotiated its fair share of such a vital resource for an industry which is so important to its economy and identity. It could pursue such a goal without being hampered by constraints applied by other priorities being juggled by the UK Government.
This reflects a fundamental truth that the best people to take decisions affecting Scotland are those who live and work here - and that a small nation with sovereign control over its own destiny can play an enormously positive role within the European Union in areas of importance to it - through innovation; leadership; and collaborative working with other countries.
Finally, an independent Scotland would be directly represented on the European Council, described by one leading academic as:
"…the centre of political gravity in the field of economic governance".
In part, the growing prominence of the European Council reflects the collective EU response to the post-2008 financial and economic crisis. As quickly became apparent, such was the scale of that crisis and the subsequent challenges that Member States had to act swiftly and with innovative and far-reaching measures if an economic catastrophe was to be avoided. The European Council emerged as the dominant EU-level institution in the development of these responses.
The growing importance of the European Council may also be viewed as a response to concerns that the EU-level of governance was acquiring too many powers over domestic policies. The preferred alternative by Member States to formally assigning policies to the EU level was to develop structures that enabled national policies to be coordinated around common objectives and implemented by national parliaments and governments.
With independence the First Minister of the Scottish Government would attend European Council summits and represent Scotland's interests, just as heads of government across the EU attend these meetings to represent their national interests.
Independence will ensure that Scotland's government is able to represent Scotland's EU interests as a full and equal partner in the EU system of governance. It is a system of governance in which legislative and policy outcomes are the result of a process of negotiation and discussion, and in which compromise is inevitable. Most certainly it is not a system of governance whose outcomes are determined by the size of particular Member States. An independent Scotland will be far from the smallest Member State by population, and will be one of the most important when measured by a range of economic criteria, including per capita GDP, research output and the educational and skill levels of our labour force. Moreover, the Scottish Government is an experienced player on the Brussels scene.
This chapter has exposed the fallacies that relatively small EU member states have less negotiating capital - and are less successful negotiators - than larger member states.
The evidence presented in this annex suggests that "size" is no indicator of the ability of a Member State to achieve legislative and policy outcomes in the EU bargaining process that best match its ambitions. Many smaller Member States are more successful in that regard than the larger members. In that light it is clear that an independent Scotland, with all the experience and expertise it has in EU business, is extremely well-placed to maximize the gains from independent membership of the EU.