An independent Scotland in the EU would require a "range of checks" at its border with England, a new report today warns.
Dr Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER), said the border issue will be the “biggest change” in the independence debate from 2014.
“If an independent Scotland were in the EU, then Scotland’s border with the rest of the UK would be an external border of the European Union,” she says in a paper entitled Brexit, Scotland and Europe. It is part of a wide report published today entitled by the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University.
Dr Hughes states: “It is clear there will indeed be a range of checks needed at the Scotland-UK borders.”
Nicola Sturgeon is currently demanding the right to hold a second referendum on in independence, with a view to Scotland rejoining the EU.
If the UK negotiates some form of ‘Canada-dry’ or ‘Canada minus’ trade deal, Dr Hughes states that the Anglo-Scottish border would be both a “regulatory and a customs border.”
“There will be the Scotland-England land border that may require regulatory and customs checks.” the academic adds.
“Then there would be a different sea and air border between Scotland and Northern Ireland – softer than the one with England and Wales perhaps – since Northern Ireland would be de facto in the EU’s customs union and in its single market for goods.”
The prospect of Scotland using the sterling after independence in a transition phase to a separate Scottish could also pose problems for EU membership.
“The possibility that Scotland as an EU member state might be temporarily using the currency of a non-EU member state is quite unique,” she adds.
“How that would be tackled politically by the EU is not entirely clear. How quickly would Scotland introduce its own currency and would the EU agree to that transition taking place after accession or insist it must be complete first?
“Certainly, it would be hard for Scotland to argue it was in control of its own monetary policy without its own currency.”
Fresh constitutional clashes between the devolved administrations and Westminster could also be looming over the planned shared prosperity fund (SPF) which will replace EU structural funds worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year,
Professor David Bell of Stirling University says, in a paper entitled Post-Brexit Regional Funds and Fisheries Arrangements, that it remains unclear what level of control the devolved administrations will have over these funds.
“The Scottish Government is likely to argue that control of the fund in Scotland should reside in Scotland,” he said.
“On the other hand, the UK Government may see the SPF as providing a mechanism for highlighting its role in supporting regional policy across the UK.”