Scottish Independence: Membership in the G20

Part 7 of an 11-part look at Scottish independence and its potential impact on Scottish influence

The Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, more commonly known as the G20, includes representation from 20 major economies. These economies are 19 countries, of which the United Kingdom is one, and the European Union. When added together, these G20 members total almost 90 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and two-thirds of the world population.[i]

According to the G20 website, “its main goals are to coordinate macroeconomic policies to strengthen the global economic recovery; to reshape the international financial architecture; and to promote financial regulations to help prevent another crisis, such as the one in 2008, from occurring again.”[ii] The model they are following, regarding the bringing together of nations who are economical leaders in the world is similar to the model used at the Breton Woods conference in July 1944, as the 44 Allied nations came together to plan monetary management and other economic issues once World War II ended[iii], and the 1933 London summit as 66 countries gathered to work on plans to revive the world economy in the midst of the Great Depression.[iv]

The work of the G20 is important, as they not only discuss and work towards agreement on international finance, regulations and the international monetary system, but they also now address related issues, such as development, energy, trade, food security, jobs and the fight against corruption.[v] And the current United Kingdom has a significant voice at these meetings, due to the fact they are not only a member nation of the G20, but they are also a member nation of the EU, which also has membership in the G20. So, technically, the UK has two votes within the G20.

Should Scotland declare independence, Scotland, as we discussed previously, would be the fifty-ninth largest economy in the world, making them ineligible for membership in the G20. However, should Scotland retain or apply for membership in the EU, the newly independent Scotland would then gain representation as a member of the EU. The remaining United Kingdom would drop to ninth place in the ranking of world economies, from its current eighth place position. This would have no impact on its representation in the G20.

Scotland, if they lose their EU membership, would lose all representation in the important discussion of world economic policy, only to gain somewhat of a voice back should they apply, and be accepted, for membership in the EU. Even if they retain their membership in the EU, Scotland’s voice would be diminished by 50 percent due to the UK no longer speaking on behalf of Scotland. The remaining United Kingdom will continue in a place of prominence and influence within the G20, and will still have representation both as a member country and as a member of the EU.

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