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Scotland ‘won’t lose’ EU rights after Yes vote

Scotland would still have access to EU membership rights if it does decide to leave the UK, but will be required to reapply for membership. Picture: TSPL

Scotland would still have access to EU membership rights if it does decide to leave the UK, but will be required to reapply for membership. Picture: TSPL

  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND won’t be cut off from the rights and obligations of EU membership for “any period of time” after a Yes vote, a new report has today found.

But the country would probably find itself outside the EU and forced to reapply for membership according to the University of Edinburgh report which also casts doubt over the SNP’s 16 month timetable for rejoining.

The issue has become a key concern during referendum debate as EU membership gives Scotland unparalleled access to a market of over 500 million people. It is also the basis for Scotland’s use of a range of international trade agreements with concerns these may have to be renegotiated if it was forced to exit the EU or remain outside for a long period.

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“In the event that formal accession has not been secured by independence day, it is likely that temporary provisions will be put in place to ensure that the rights and obligations arising from the EU treaties will continue to apply to Scotland in the interim period,” the report by Professor Stephen Tierney and Katie Boyle states.

The SNP Government has proposed that Scottish independence will be formally enacted in March 2016 if there is a Yes vote.

Scotland has a key “economic, strategic and territorial” importance to the EU and is integrated into its institutions and EU law, while residents of Scotland enjoy the rights of EU citizenship.

“It would seem that it is in the interests of the EU to ensure that the jurisdiction of EU law and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship continue to apply to Scotland and those resident in Scotland in any intervening period between independence and full EU membership.”

And although it may take longer than 16 months for Scotland to rejoin the EU, this would eventually be secured.

“The accession of an independent Scotland to the European Union is not in any serious doubt,” according to the report.

The paper was penned on behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Future of the UK and Scotland work.

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