Scotland could return to EU 'smoothly and quickly' after independence- report

November 19, 2023
A new report from the Edinburgh government sets out plans for future relations with Europe, but independence does not appear anytime soon. The Scottish Government has outlined plans to rejoin the European Union, insisting that post-independence it will be a "smooth and swift" process and applications for membership will be submitted "as soon as possible". The pro-EU and pro-independence government in Edinburgh has made the following comments in a new policy document setting out the benefits of EU membership, including access to the single market for Scottish businesses. Common access to EU free trade agreements. In particular, securing EU funding for Scottish agriculture. And we have ensured that young people in Scotland can benefit from the Erasmus+ university exchange programme, which is no longer available after Brexit. EU membership, says the country's _de facto_foreign minister Angus Robertson, "would give Scotland direct representation in European decision-making for the very first time, providing opportunities for our economy to grow inside a market which is seven times the size of the UK and escape the damage of the UK’s hard Brexit, which is hitting Scotland’s economy and communities hard."

Lack of support for independence hampers plans

The upshot of Scotland's EU membership is that independence is not in sight in the near future. Both the British Conservative Party and Labor strongly oppose any mechanism that would allow the Scottish Government to hold an independence referendum. Meanwhile, opinion polls consistently show there is no majority support for independence in Scotland itself. According to a poll released earlier this month, 40% support independence and 49% support remaining part of the UK. The ruling Scottish National Party says it will claim it has the "power to negotiate independence" with London if it already wins a majority of Scottish seats in the next UK general election (which it already has). But a series of scandals and the natural attrition of almost 16 years in government have weakened the SNP's once-secure position at the top of the Scottish political system, with big changes expected next year. Scottish Labor He is widely expected to win a majority of Westminster seats for the SNP in the next UK general election. Opinion polls also show Labor has strong support in the Scottish Parliament elections, which is likely to wipe out the pro-independence majority in Edinburgh's parliament. In early November, the European Commission published its annual report on the bloc's future enlargement, with enlargement plans focused on the Western Balkans.

How would Scotland rejoin the EU?

While the UK as a whole voted narrowly to leave, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain. The idea was that leaving the EU was a mistake and that the country's future should lie in the EU. This paints a picture of a confused Scottish electorate: They want to join the European Union, but are not committed to independence as a path to getting there. Since the Brexit referendum, "there has been a lot of discussion about the best future for Scotland", Mr Robertson said. "The Scottish government believes we can build a better country through a powerful combination of independence and EU membership," he added. The Scottish Government said Scottish independence would follow the normal accession process, known as Article 49, which usually takes several years. In the meantime, it will seek to create some kind of transitional arrangement to allow Scottish exporters in particular to access the domestic market. "Having been part of the EU for over 47 years with a positive record of implementation of EU legislation and a high level of alignment with EU law" puts Scotland in a "unique position" to move quickly through the accession process, the report says. The new policy paper fudges the issue of whether an independent Scotland would adopt the euro as its currency - an issue that has proved particularly divisive in political discussions in Scotland. However the paper restates the government's position that there would be a new Scottish Pound currency in use after independence, and then at a later date decisions might be taken on joining the euro. Scotland would likely eventually become a "net contributor" to EU budgets, the government says, but notes "a number of member states with relatively small economies have initially been net recipients but over time have become net contributors to the EU budget."

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