Nicola Sturgeon: We’ll take our place at table in Brussels

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Julie Bull
Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Julie Bull
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SCOTLAND is an ancient European nation, and an independent Scotland will continue in European Union membership.

Our country has the lion’s share of all the EU’s oil reserves and a huge proportion of the continent’s renewable energy, as well as some of the richest fishing grounds.

Would Brussels want to lose such assets when energy security is one of the dominating issues of the early 21st century?

Would Spanish, French and Portuguese fishermen want to be blocked from fishing the lucrative waters in Scotland’s sectors of the North Sea and West Atlantic?

There is precedent which shows that, when hard-headed concerns are brought to bear, Europe is a flexible institution.
When the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989, few at that point would have expected a united Germany to be part of the then European Community within less than 12 months – but that is exactly what happened when German reunification took place on 3 October, 1990.

Overnight, East Germany, which had been subject to Communist rule for four decades, became part of the Brussels club, despite stringent rules for new members which say a functioning market economy and a well-established democracy are fundamental prerequisites for membership.

How much more straightforward is Scotland’s case, given our 40 years of membership, which by definition means we meet the criteria.

A joint paper published last year by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy observed that an independent Scotland’s continued EU membership is “unlikely to be opposed”.

Meanwhile, Professor Sir David Edward – one of Europe’s foremost legal experts – has said that, in his view, continued Scottish membership would not need an accession process, merely amendment to treaties.

Professor James Crawford, one of the UK government’s chosen experts, has described the Scottish Government’s proposed 18-month transition to independence following a Yes vote as “realistic”.

We also have the process by which independence can be achieved outlined in the Edinburgh Agreement, signed by both the Scottish and UK governments. An independent Scotland will keep the pound, and a shared sterling area will be in the economic interests of the rest of the UK. There is no mechanism to make any EU member state join the euro, as the case of Sweden proves.

Scotland will remain part of the Common Travel Area with the UK and Ireland, an arrangement which long predates Schengen.

An independent Scotland will be a welcomed and valued member of the European Union.

• Nicola Sturgeon is the Deputy First Minister and deputy leader of the Scottish National Party.