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Scottish independence: Holyrood EU committee plan

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THE position of an independent Scotland within the European Union is to be examined by a Holyrood committee in the new year.

The European and External Relations Committee has announced an inquiry into the issue following the publication of the Scottish Government’s White Paper last month.

MSPs will quiz expert witnesses about the road to EU membership in the event of a Yes vote in next year’s referendum, as well as on the terms on which an independent Scotland would join.

The inquiry will also look at how the country would be represented in EU institutions and examine the level of influence small states have.

The SNP administration’s aim for a smooth transition to EU membership negotiated from inside the UK has been attacked by critics since the blueprint’s publication.

Scrutiny

Committee convener Christina McKelvie said: “The White Paper makes proposals of crucial importance to the position of an independent Scotland in the international sphere, particularly in relation to the EU.

“As MSPs, we all have our own views on the question posed by the referendum. As a committee, we will bring our combined knowledge and understanding of the EU institutions and policy making to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s proposals and ensure that a thorough and open debate is held on them.

“We will hear from expert witnesses so the people of Scotland can get the information and opinions they deserve ahead of being asked to cast their vote next September.”

Deputy convener Hanzala Malik said: “As a Scottish Parliament committee, it is our job to ask questions, to probe both facts and opinion in relation to government policies. The evidence we will take during this inquiry will play a vital role in that process.

“We look forward to hearing from a range of experts in the coming months but more than this, we want to hear from people in Scotland on how they think these decisions could impact on them.”

The committee expects to start taking evidence from academics, legal professionals, EU policy commentators and institutions in mid-January, with sessions due to run until March.

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