As many as 450 people from as far away as the US tuned into our latest webinar on January 12 to hear experts say an independent Scotland could be “top of the list” to join the EU and the process could take as little as three years.
But the audience also heard that the EU would only negotiate with Scotland if it left the UK on a legally agreed basis, it could take seven years to join, meeting the entry criteria would not be a walkover and Scotland needed to think and act more European.
Barbara Lippert, of Berlin’s Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik think tank, agreed there was a “broad openness” to Scotland joining and, as a “bright spot”, it would not sit in the same basket as the western Balkans in the entry queue. But all bilateral issues between Holyrood and Westminster would have to be cleared up first while Scotland would also have to settle issues such as whether it would be a net payer into the EU Budget, had its own currency, wouild not enjoy permanent opt-outs like the UK, would join NATO…
James Ker-Lindsay, visiting professor at the LSE, said he could see the EU “wanting to take Scotland in to show it can attract northern European small states such as…Iceland, Norway, Switzerland…” rather than the western Balkans while he insisted that Spain, often seen as wielding a veto against Scotland because of Catalunya, “is not opposed to independence per se but stands against unilateral secession.”
Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, which helped organise the webinar, said Scotland joining would be “a positive story” but agreed the EU-27 would need to see a full accord between Edinburgh and London in advance. Unlike Barbara, she imagined Brussels would have to get involved in 3-way talks because of issues such as borders. In a lively discussion on currencies, including Scotland adopting the euro, she insisted the Scottish debate “needs to be more European basically” rather than talk about joining the single currency and then forgetting al about it…
James added: “Some may ask: Is Scotland ready for independence if it’s not ready to ditch the pound?” And Barbara urged Scotland to explain more and better what the drivers of independence are, what constitutes the Scottish nation – and what the future of Europe should be. It was a point seized upon by Denis MacShane, ex-Labour Europe Minister, in the chat:
We at EMiS are pursuing our own links with mainland Europe and are determined to continue the debate we initiated here in future webinars, podcasts and posts. You can (re)watch the entire webinar, chaired by Ronnie Clancy QC of the Faculty of Advocates which helped organise it, here .