Scotland ‘could re-join EU within two years of split’
Scotland could be fast-tracked back into the EU within two years of voting for independence, according to External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson.
The country’s previous membership meant that it had EU-ready systems in place which would reduced the requirement to prepare its application, he said.
Speaking at the launch of a paper on the benefits of EU membership, Mr Robertson noted that the average time taken to join the EU was under five years while Austria, Finland and Sweden joined in under two years.
“There is no precedent for re-joining the but they [the last three] had never been in the EU,” he told reporters at Queen Margaret University.
“We therefore start from an advantageous place in that our systems are already aligned with the EU and we know what is required.”
He said that apart from the benefits of being part of a single market seven times larger than the UK, Scotland would add value to the EU through renewables, food and drink, and finance.
Responding to a question on the deficit possibly holding back Scotland’s re-entry he said it was a result of the UK government’s mismanagement of the economy and it “doesn’t define membership of the EU.”
Being part of the EU would allow Scotland to fulfil its economic growth potential, he said.
Scotland would initially use sterling currency but would switch to using its own. It would not be part of the eurozone.
“That would put us in the same position as a number of other European Union member states that are members without having adopted the euro.”
The 78-page paper, which is the seventh part of the Building a New Scotland series, sets out the Scottish Government’s case for wanting to rejoin the EU.
It would aim to begin negotiations to join as soon as possible, without a separate referendum.
On border checks, the paper says the UK will remain an “important trading partner” and the government would aim to “put in place measures to smooth checks required”.
But it adds: “A number of recent developments at a UK level make it difficult to state definitively what checks may or may not be required for exports from an independent Scotland to the rest of the UK.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of the anti-independence movement Scotland in Union, said: “This was a chance for the Scottish Government to put flesh on the bones and explain to people and businesses how its repeated assertions on the EU would actually work.
“But we still have no clear answers on the most important questions.
“Ministers provided no guarantees on currency or timescales to join, nothing about being allowed to opt-out of borderless agreements, and no plans on reducing deficit to the required levels.
“The SNP-Green coalition has glossed over the barriers which would be thrown up when it comes to doing business with the rest of the UK, and is brassing it out on border controls
“Fishing communities will also be curious to hear the Scottish Government’s enthusiasm for going back in to the Common Fisheries Policy.
“This paper, like the six before it, has proved a complete waste of time and our taxes.
“People want a government that prioritises health, education and jobs, not the SNP’s own selfish constitutional obsessions.”