‘Independent Scotland would have to apply to EU’

Edgar Rinkevics. Picture: Getty
Edgar Rinkevics. Picture: Getty
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An independent Scotland would have to apply for European Union membership as a new state, according to Latvia’s foreign minister.

• Edgar Rinkevics has said that the process could be ‘much quicker’ for Scotland

• Areas such as joining the euro and Schengen free area of travel would be discussed

But the process could be “much quicker” than that for other new members given Scotland already complies with EU regulations, Edgar Rinkevics said.

Areas such as joining the euro and the Schengen free area of travel would be discussed and negotiated.

“We consider that if Scotland declares independence, it is a new country which I believe would naturally become a member of the UN, member of the different other regional organisations and most probably a member of the European Union,” Mr Rinkevics said in an interview with BBC Scotland.

“But in that case we would see it as a process of admitting new members into the European Union.”

Latvia is due to take over the presidency of the EU in 2015, and Mr Rinkevics said his country will “probably have to deal with this issue” if Scotland votes Yes in the 2014 referendum.

Mr Rinkevics is the latest European politician to give his view on Scotland’s place in the EU if it becomes independent.

Ireland’s minister for European affairs, Lucinda Creighton, has previously indicated that “a newly independent state” would have to negotiate the terms of membership, as they would undoubtedly be “somewhat different to the existing terms”.

Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said Scotland would have to apply for EU membership, while Slovakia’s deputy prime minister, Miroslav Lajcak, said it is unclear if an independent Scotland would remain in the EU.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Latvian foreign minister said that the European Commission legal service is currently looking at both Scotland and the rest of the UK’s position in the EU following a Yes vote in 2014.

“We consider that it is possible to prepare and publish a precise scenario that will provide the European Commission with the information it needs to consider an independent Scotland’s continued EU membership.”

Scottish ministers have always been clear that there will be negotiations on specific terms of Scotland’s EU membership, but these will take place from within the EU, the spokesman said.