Independent Scotland could wait five years to join EU
Scotland needs to have a “frank discussion on how long it would take” to rejoin the EU in the event of a vote for independence, a Brussels expert has said.
Anthony Salamone, director of political analysis firm European Merchants, said the current discussion on EU membership is “superficial, repetitive and inward-looking”.
He estimated accession to the EU could take four to five years, and even that would be “remarkably fast” compared to other states who have joined.
Salamone made the comments at the launch of a major report on Scotland’s debate on the European Union.
The report says pro-independence campaigners must resolve key issues relating to membership before a vote on Scottish independence is held.
There are major questions around the rationale for joining the EU, the timescale and what it would mean for public finances which have yet to be addressed, it says.
Criticising the idea that membership would be fast-tracked, Salamone said the argument that Scotland already fulfilled much of the EU’s criteria was false.
In particular, he said Scotland does not meet the requirement to align in full with the acquis – the rules to which member states must adhere – not least because much of it falls within reserved areas so Scottish law does not cover it or because post-Brexit the UK is moving away from EU rules.
But he also critcised pro-Union campaigners who claim the Scotland would not be able to apply for membership until the deficit was under three per cent. The latest figures estimate Scotland’s deficit is over 12 per cent.
“Scotland would not have to satisfy the rules in full just to apply to join the EU,” he said, adding that many existing member states did not meet this condition themselves.
The paper comprises a hundred “essential questions” to be addressed, covering a range of issues including pre-accession preparations, currency, the border with England and free movement.
The Scottish Government is currently planning to hold a second independence referendum in October 2023.
In the run up to the vote, it is publishing a series of papers on independence issues, including one on the EU.
The SNP’s policy is that Scotland would seek to join the EU as soon as it became independence.
But there has been calls for this to be subject to a referendum in and of itself.