Independent Scotland could join EU within two years, suggests SNP minister
Angus Robertson said the average time for negotiation and succession was under five years, but Austria, Sweden and Finland all joined in two.
He said these countries had never been member states previously, adding: “So does that present Scotland with an opportunity, does that present the European Union with an opportunity of starting from a different place than everybody else? Absolutely.
"Why? Because we have been in, we have upheld the standards of European Union membership, and we would have the capacity to do so as a member state.”
Mr Robertson, the cabinet secretary for constitution, external affairs and culture, made the comments as the Scottish Government published its plans for EU membership following independence on Friday.
Its proposals, which form the seventh in a series of independence prospectus papers, say Scotland would use the “tried and tested” route to membership, which is through the Article 49 process.
The paper argues Scotland would be “well placed to fulfil the requirements of the accession process”, adding: “The average time to join the EU is under five years (from the opening of the accession negotiations); Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU in under two years.”
Speaking to journalists during a visit to Queen Margaret University near Edinburgh, Mr Robertson said there was “no precedent for a part of the European Union which left re-joining” and so there was no “direct read-across with anywhere else”. He said there were “aspects to Scotland’s situation which are unique”.
Under the Scottish Government’s plans, Scotland would continue to use the pound at the point of application to the EU. “The process of establishing a Scottish pound would be closely aligned with the process of re-joining the EU,” the paper says.
The document says there is no prescribed timetable for joining the euro and this would only happen if conditions were met and the Parliament of an independent Scotland “decided this was the right course of action to take”.
The 78-page paper also described plans for checks on goods which are traded across the border between an independent Scotland and England, with Mr Robertson saying there would be the “least friction possible”.
The paper says there would be a “single trade window” online for companies which trade goods across the border with England. Checks on goods need not happen at the border itself, it says, though it also suggests “spot checks” and automatic number plate recognition on “minor routes” along the border to monitor non-compliance.
The need for checks on goods would come about because the rest of the UK would not be in the EU single market.
The UK Government has repeatedly rejected calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence, and opposition parties at Holyrood have criticised the prospectus series as “fantasy”.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating on the issues that matter most to them, like growing our economy, halving inflation and improving public services.
“We want to work constructively with the Scottish Government to tackle our shared challenges because that is what families and businesses in Scotland expect. This is not the time to be talking about distracting constitutional change.”
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