THE SNP’s timetable of 18 months for an independent Scotland to rejoin the European Union (EU) is “unachievable”, the House of Commons Scottish affairs select committee has warned.
However, pro-UK MPs have acknowledged Scotland would be accepted into the EU – but said it would lose most of the “special arrangements” currently enjoyed by the UK.
In its latest report on the referendum, the committee said an independent Scotland would “lose all or most of the special arrangements presently enjoyed as part of the UK”, which it listed as the budget rebate, an opt out from joining the euro, large structural funds and justice and home affairs opt outs.
The Scottish Government said the real threat to Scotland’s membership of the EU is “Westminster’s reaction to the rise of Ukip and the Prime Minister’s promise of an in-out referendum”.
The committee also said that it was “inconceivable” that an independent Scotland would be able to continue charging students from the rest of the UK to study at Scottish universities.
The committee’s Labour chairman Ian Davidson MP said: “It seems the Scottish Government has drastically under-estimated the time, complexity and cost of negotiating a new position in the EU, as well as the factors weighted against Scotland in any such negotiations.
“It is likely that a separate Scotland would have its application to join the EU accepted – but not on the timetable or terms that the Scottish Government wants. It is simply not credible that the Scottish Government would achieve the terms of entry that it seeks and especially not from the weakened position of its self-imposed deadline.”
A spokeswoman for Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, said: “This report entirely reflects the anti-independence position of the MPs who took part in this inquiry and looks particularly foolish coming out on the same day it became crystal clear that the threat to Scotland’s membership is Westminster’s reaction to the rise of Ukip and the Prime Minister’s promise of an in-out referendum.
“Despite their hostility to the idea of an independent Scotland, even these MPs have had to accept that an independent Scotland will be welcomed into the EU.”