A TOP European economist has said it would be “inconceivable” for the EU to reject an independent Scotland’s membership.
Fabian Zuleeg, who is the chief executive and economist of the European Policy Centre, also said it “could ease some of the frictions and unresolved issues” the rest of the UK will be left with after Brexit if an independent Scotland rejoins.
Writing for thenational.scot he said: “If an independent Scotland shows its commitment to EU values, willing to fulfil the conditions of membership, it is inconceivable that it would be blocked permanently from becoming a member state.”
He went on: “It would be important for the EU to be convinced that an independent Scotland was not driven by a negative nationalism of “us vs them” but that it could even provide a bridge between the EU and the rest of the UK, helping to ease some of the frictions and unresolved issues.”
But Zuleeg warned the process would not be automatic but that Brexit has changed the case for Scotland in the EU compared to after the 2014 independence referendum.
“Then, a vote for independence would potentially have meant an exit from the EU, followed by an uncertain accession process, facing not only some sceptical member states struggling with secessionist movements but also the potential veto of the rest of the UK,” he said.
“Now, EU countries recognise that Scotland has been taken out of the EU against its will and that there could well be a legitimate case to re-enter the EU.”
He said an independent Scotland would have to prove it “truly belongs in the EU” by pursuing a membership for reasons other than to achieve independence.
“The last thing the EU would want at this stage is a new ‘awkward’ partner,” Zuleeg continued. “Key here is a strong and visible commitment to EU values and the rule of law, in step with the overall direction of European integration.”
Zuleeg warned against pursuing alternative routes to independence instead of waiting for Westminster’s permission saying it “would create a dangerous political and legal precedent” in the eyes of EU member states. He said it “could stir up secessionist movements”.
Zuleeg concluded: “If constitutionally separated from the UK, and willing to commit to EU values and accession conditions, it is highly likely that an independent Scotland would become a member of the European Union.”
— to www.thenational.scot