AN independent Scotland would be a voice for “peace and justice” on the world stage and play a key role in international issues, Nicola Sturgeon said today.
The Deputy First Minister told MSPs the country would enjoy a “smooth and quick” transition to full EU membership status and branded it “incredible” to suggest that Scotland would be frozen out of Europe.
She also stepped up calls for the Coalition Government to end the confusion and seek official advice from Brussels on Scotland’s EU status after a Yes vote, which Westminster has so far declined to do.
Ms Sturgeon was giving evidence on the Scottish Government’s recent white paper on independence, Scotland’s Future, at Holyrood’s European and External Affairs committee.
“Small nations can have a big influence in the world if they are seen to be a voice for peace and justice and that’s what Scotland would be,” she said.
The country’s oil and gas supplies, extensive fishing waters, climate change expertise and exports would make it a significant player in EU affairs, she added.
“Small states are able to direct European policy and the idea that big states wield all the influence is not bourne out by evidence.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has recently warned that Scotland would find itself outside the EU in the event of Yes vote next year and face a lengthy re-application process.
But Ms Sturgeon insisted Scotland is already a member of the EU.
“We’ve complied with a body of European law for 40 years, our citizens are European citizens, we have something like 160,000 members of other European states living here.
“The idea that after independence, somehow Scotland wouldn’t be welcomed as an EU member, I just find that incredible.”
The SNP stated in its white paper that Scotland would remain in the EU after independence and renegotiate its position, through Article 48 of the EU treaty, but from inside. The EC has stated it will only provide clarity on this to the member state, in this case the UK, but the Coalition has so far declined to request such advice.
But Ms Sturgeon added: “Let’s go to the EU and ask them what their view of this legal route is.”