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by Louise Wilson
17 November 2023
Independent Scotland would be in ‘advantageous position’ to rejoin EU quickly, says Robertson

Credit: Scottish Government

Independent Scotland would be in ‘advantageous position’ to rejoin EU quickly, says Robertson

An independent Scotland would be in an “advantageous position” for rapid accession to the EU, constitution secretary Angus Robertson has said.

The new Scottish Government paper on independence published today hints that Scotland could join the EU within two years.

It highlights the timescales of how long it took other countries to join the bloc, stating: “The average time to join the EU is under five years (from the opening of the accession negotiations); Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU in under two years.”

Asked if that meant Scotland would be able to rejoin the EU within such a short timescale, Robertson said: “It is true to say, I think, that the average time for negotiation and accession to the European Union is under five years. And we do know that in the case of Austria, Sweden and Finland, it took two years.

“I would observe though that what all of those countries had in common was that they had never been member states of the European Union. So does that present Scotland with an opportunity, does that present the European Union with an opportunity of starting from a different place than everybody else? Absolutely.

“Why? Because we have been in, we have upheld the standards of European Union membership, and we would have the capacity to do so as a member state.”

The 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 the matter.

The paper predicts that an independent Scotland would have 14 MEPs, similar to other EU countries of the same size.

On currency, the paper says the process of establishing a Scottish pound would be happening at the same time as EU negotiations and therefore it would still be using sterling at the point of application.

Thereafter, Scotland would switch to using its own currency. Robertson said the policy of the current Scottish Government would not be to join the Eurozone but the paper leaves this open as a possibility.

Robertson said: “Our plans, as have been outlined in the document, are for us to begin as a sovereign state while using the currency that we currently have, and we will be moving as quickly as we can towards having a currency of our own.

“That would put ourselves in the same position as a number of other European Union member states that are members without having adopted the Euro.”

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.”

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