Independent Scotland will remain in the EU

An independent Scotland will remain an integral part of the European Union and will not have to re-apply for EU membership. This is the clear position of the Scottish Government despite attempts by anti-independence proponents to cast doubt on Scotland’s future position in Europe.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "As many experts have already confirmed, Scotland is part of the territory of the European Union and the people of Scotland are citizens of the EU – there is no provision for either of these circumstances to change upon independence, and the rest of the UK will be exactly the same position.  We will both be successor states, with exactly the same status within the EU."

Lisbon Treaty

Scotland would not be an accession country and would therefore remain part of the European Union.  There is now a new clause as a result of the Lisbon Treaty that requires negotiation for a Member State to cease to be in the EU, and we know from the Greenland precedent that negotiation is also required for part of a Member State to withdraw. So the argument from Westminster that Scotland would be excluded is inaccurate.

This view has been fully supported by a range of EU experts and academics.

  • Eamonn Gallagher, former director general of the European Commission and EC Ambassador to the UN in New York, has said: "Scotland and the rest of the UK would be equally entitled to continue their existing full membership of the EU." (Sunday Herald, 18 February, 2007).
  • Emile Noel, the first and longest serving secretary-general of the European Commission has said: "Scottish Independence would create two new member states out of one. They would have equal status with each other and the other states. The remainder of the United Kingdom would not be in a more powerful position than Scotland."
  • Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, a judge on the European Court of Justice between 1973 and 1988 and president from 1984 to 88, has said: "Independence would leave Scotland and something called 'the rest' in the same legal boat.  If Scotland had to reapply, so would the rest.  I am puzzled at the suggestion that there would be a difference in the status of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of Community law if the Act of Union was dissolved." (Scotland on Sunday, 8 March, 1992).
  • Aidan O’Neill QC said on the Eutopia Law blog on citizenship (14 November, 2011): "Rather than analyse the matter from the classic viewpoint of public international law ... EU law requires one to look at the issue from the viewpoint of the individual EU citizen ... the question to ask is whether the CJEU would consider that the fact that Scotland became independent required that all (or any portion) of the previous UK citizenry thereby be deprived of their acquired rights as EU citizens?"

No legal problem

The Westminster parties have also tried to claim that other member states, including Spain, would seek to block Scotland's membership. But this was rejected by the Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo, speaking at a press conference in Brussels on 23 January, 2012. 

And the other anti-independence scare-story about Scotland being forced to join the euro is also inaccurate. EU law contains a point of decision for Scotland - we can decide whether or not we start on the path to euro membership. On independence, Scotland will continue to use the pound, just as we do today.

The Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, said on the BBC Sunday Politics Scotland programme on 15 January 2012: "I don’t think there would be a legal problem with that”, in relation to an independent Scotland continuing to use Sterling.



  • The EU is the world’s wealthiest single market, comprising upwards of 500 million consumers. Membership of the EU, and access to the Single Market, provides Scottish firms more businesses to trade with, and more potential customers to sell to.  It provides our people with the right to travel, work and study in other EU...

  • Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is challenging the Coalition Government and Westminster opposition to accept the same "common-sense" position on EU membership as that of the Scottish Government.
  • The No campaign’s newly appointed adviser, Jim Gallagher has claimed that its “likely” that an independent Scotland will be an EU state after “accelerated negotiation”.
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