Would an independent Scotland be allowed into the EU?

The debate over Scotland's place in Europe rages on (Picture: Steven Taylor)
The debate over Scotland's place in Europe rages on (Picture: Steven Taylor)
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Search on Twitter for “Independent Scotland” and you get a string of tweets that alternate between asserting that Scotland would join a long queue for the European Union if we voted for independence, and tweets arguing we would be right at the front of it.

The issue has reared its head once again as the UK heads for Theresa May’s so-called hard Brexit and the Scottish Government looks set to call another referendum on independence.

The gist was that Jacqueline Minor, the European Commission’s head in the UK, told a reception of journalists that a newly independent Scotland would join a host of former Yugoslav states in a queue for a seat at the top table.

Opposition parties hailed the news as a ‘significant’ spanner in the works of Nicola Sturgeon’s stated plans for an independent Scotland in Europe.

This comment, so goes the Unionist argument, deals a near fatal blow to nascent plans of the Scottish Government to have another referendum.

Ms Minor noted that the official line is that there are no new admissions planned before 2020, and so if Scotland couldn’t remain in the EU, it would have to enter as a new nation.

Wait, contend Scotland’s pro-independence politicians, we wouldn’t be in the same position as Montenegro and Macedonia, because we aren’t Montenegro or Macedonia.

READ MORE: Scotland would need to join queue

The official SNP line is that Labour and the Tories have no right seizing on comments like those of Minor, as they used EU membership as such a significant campaigning tool in the 2014 vote.

An inexplicably not-deleted tweet from the official No campaign, Better Together, is still often shared by independence supporters, so potent a weapon do they regard it.

“What is the process for removing our EU citizenship? Voting yes”, it reads.

There was some good news for the SNP today, which further complicates the EU membership picture.

An exclusive by Buzzfeed reported that the First Minister may have a powerful ally in Germany should Scotland seek to be fast-tracked through EU membership.

READ MORE: Could the UK face a massive Brexit bill?

They quoted two senior German MPs as saying that talks in Brussels on rushing ‘pro Europe’ Scotland through membership have taken place.

One said that it would be “not only nice, but necessary” for an independent Scotland to become an EU member.

A spokesman for Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU party told the site: “I believe [Scotland is] pro-European. It has implemented the rules of the EU over these past years in a perfect way and I could imagine that there would be backing of Germany”

The Germans are clear, though, that this would only happen once the UK has left the EU, and seemed to encourage Scotland to take a full part in the complex Brexit process.

That didn’t seem like the SNP’s plan when all of their MPs voted against the triggering of article 50 in Westminster this week.

Like all constitutional matters, the answers are long, complicated, and hard to verify.

The reading of the issue of Scotland’s future membership of the EU changes daily, and depending on which politician you speak to.

One thing is for sure, as the Twitter search shows, it isn’t an issue due to go away any time soon.