The Telecommunications Sector: Scenarios for Scottish Independence

13 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2017

See all articles by Ewan Sutherland

Ewan Sutherland

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre

Date Written: March 26, 2017


Once again the issue of a plebiscite for the independence of Scotland is being discussed.

The likely effects of independence on the telecommunications sector have previously been analysed, but need both to be reconsidered and to be subjected to debate and parliamentary scrutiny. Necessarily, it means splitting the existing ‘single’ United Kingdom market, with new licences for operators, under new statutes, implemented by new regulators. All the paraphernalia of the UK regulatory state would need to be replicated, including an array of bodies ranging from a government department to new trade associations.

Possible membership of the European Union would mean that legislation would have to comply with the European Union acquis. However, application via Article 48 TEU would additionally require proof of compliance and testing of the competence and independence of central bodies.

An alternative could be membership of the European Economic Area and while there are no precedents the process and outcome would appear to be broadly similar. Scotland would need to create the array of agencies and bodies, subject to scrutiny of the EFTA Surveillance Authority and approval of the existing members.

Independence without membership of either EU or EEA would give considerably greater freedom, allowing modification of the existing UK laws that are primarily transpositions of EU directives.

Keywords: Brexit, European Economic Area, European Union, Plebiscite, Referendum, Regulation, Regulatory State, Scotland, Telecommunications, United Kingdom

JEL Classification: L96, L98, O10, K21, K23, N94

Suggested Citation

Sutherland, Ewan, The Telecommunications Sector: Scenarios for Scottish Independence (March 26, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Ewan Sutherland (Contact Author)

University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre ( email )

1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2000
South Africa


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