AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would not need to sign a new accession treaty to be a member of the European Union, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.
She said the Scottish Government was arguing for a “continuation of the status quo”, which would require negotiation but not a “full-blown accession”, if the country voted to leave the UK.
Ms Sturgeon said: “There is nothing in any of the European treaties that would provide for a scenario where part of a member state was cast adrift from it, simply because it exercised its democratic right to self-determination.
“We are going to be simply arguing for a transition from membership as part of the UK to membership as an independent country, but on the same terms as we were a member as part of the UK.
“We’re simply arguing for a continuation of the status quo, so it would require negotiation. Other countries would of course have a say on this, but we’re not talking about an accession.”
She went on: “[Former European judge] David Edward made the point when he said it would be a treaty amendment scenario, not a new accession treaty. We’re in the EU, we’d have a process of negotiating the terms of our continued membership, but it’s not equivalent to a full-blown accession.”
Her comments came after it emerged the SNP government has appointed an expert on European law to help it engage with the EU in the run-up to the independence referendum. Drew Scott, professor of EU studies at Edinburgh University, will advise on European treaties as ministers prepare to negotiate the terms of entry if Scotland votes Yes.
Last week, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore set out the UK government’s understanding of new legal analysis on the implications of independence by two international lawyers.
James Crawford, Whewell Professor of International Law at Cambridge University, and Alan Boyle, Professor of Public International Law at Edinburgh University, think the most likely outcome of independence would be the continuation of the UK as the existing state under international law and the creation of a new state of Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s claim that Scotland would remain a member of existing international organisations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and, crucially, the EU “can be dismissed as, at best, inconclusive”, according to the expert analysis.
At the time, Ms Sturgeon declared the UK government’s position was “hugely arrogant”. She said: “A legal opinion is just that – there are opinions from other legal experts that say the opposite, that Scotland would be a co-equal successor state.”