Will Scotland be in the European Union?
In short, the Scottish Government proposes to agree the terms of Scotland’s continued membership of the European Union between the date of the referendum, and the proposed date of independence on 24th March 2016.
However, Scotland has no plans to join the Euro, and couldn’t join at this stage even if it wanted to.
There are different interpretations of EU law and what this means for Scotland and the EU. What is clear though, is that Scotland will not be immediately independent the day after a Yes vote, as the Scottish Government has explained in its “independence roadmap” and in its white paper "Scotland's Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland". There would be a period of around 18 months for agreement between Scotland, the remainder of the UK, and the EU on the details of our continuing membership.
In that way questions relating to our ongoing EU membership can be settled before we become independent. Scotland already is part of the EU – so there is no doubt that we meet all the requirements for membership, and with our energy and fishing resources it is clearly common sense, and in the interests of the EU, that Scotland's place in the EU continues seamlessly.
Even the UK government’s expert European legal adviser has accepted that this timetable is “realistic”. So Scotland’s EU membership will be secure by the time we are independent.
The huge benefit of membership of the EU is unrestricted access to the biggest single market in the world – easily our biggest international trading partner, accounting for almost half of our exports. It is access to that market that is one reason why Scotland is so successful in attracting investment from abroad.
Independence will give Scotland a seat at the top table and a voice when key decisions are being made about Europe’s future – a voice we do not have just now.
For example, as members of the EU, Scotland would be part of the common fisheries policy; but would also have full involvement in negotiations surrounding that policy.
As regards currency, the intention of the current Scottish Government is to keep the pound – providing a balance between economic autonomy, and stability for business as well as straightforward access to markets in the remainder of the UK.
For those looking for an impartial and much more detailed explanation of the currency options, we would recommend the First Report by the Scottish Government’s Fiscal Commission Working Group – a group of renowned international economists, including two Nobel Prize winners.
As the economists note, it would actually be impossible for Scotland to join the Euro on independence (see paragraph 7.37).
There are Yes supporters who are more sceptical about the reasons for Scotland becoming part of the EU. Yes Scotland is not a political party that will be standing for election in 2016, and of course it would be open to the Scottish electorate to return a government that did not support membership of the European Union at those elections.
However, at the outset Scotland will be a member of the EU. It is the position of the current government and most of the political parties represented at Holyrood that the advantages of open access to the single European market far outweigh the disadvantages, and with independence and increased representation we would better able to have our voice heard on matters of importance to Scotland.
28 countries have come to a similar conclusion and joined the EU, and Scotland will become the 29th.