Scottish independence: MSPs begin scrutinising post 'yes' EU plans

Flags outside Strasbourg building Independence plans to join the EU are being scrutinised by MSPs

Holyrood has been hearing evidence on Scottish government plans for an independent Scotland to be part of the EU.

Former civil servant and EU negotiator, David Crawley, and academics Laura Cram, Dr Paolo Dardanelli and John Bachtler came before MSPs.

They agreed that in the event of independence there would have to be interim arrangements over the EU.

The people of Scotland will vote in the referendum on 18 September.

They will be asked the straight "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Mr Crawley told members of the Scottish Parliament's external relations committee that Scotland would probably have to apply as a new state, a process that had historically taken between a year and 14 years.

Start Quote

I do think there would have to be some bridge, some interim arrangements”

End Quote John Bachtler Director of Strathclyde University's European policies research centre

But he added: "I think the consensus of this panel is that there ought to be a set of interim arrangements agreed at some stage in this process which one would hope would protect rights.

"We don't know that, there are no guarantees and there are risks, but that is what we would hope."

Prof Cram, who holds the chair of European politics at Edinburgh University, agreed.

She told MSPs: "A general preference for continuity within the EU machine is what we have seen historically when there are transitions.

"While we are talking about a lengthy, lengthy period of time, potentially, until all of the ends are tied up and a final membership package agreed, the notion that Scotland would somehow be out in the cold and floating in that interim period, even if it were to come entirely as an applicant state, would be considered unusual in the EU context.

"The general approach has been to agree transition arrangements.

"I think lawyers will come up with a compromise. It would be surprising that it would be in the interests of anybody to throw everything up immediately and not find some kind of working relationship that could work in the interim."

'Mischief-making'

Dr Dardanelli, lecturer in comparative politics at Kent University, said: "I personally find the reframing of membership not unreasonable as a scenario, because it would be very problematic to expel Scotland following independence.

"So, the course that the [Scottish] government has charted I don't find unreasonable, but it would be based entirely on negotiations and agreements with other member states.

"It seems to me like there is a bit of a game being played and a number of nationalist parties around Europe want to use the argument to direct member states to shift the politics of independence within those prospective states.

"The European institutions don't want trouble as much as possible, so the line of warning that 'if you leave, you will be outside' is played up precisely to that effect.

"I'm not entirely sure that is actually what view will prevail if the situation actually presents itself."

Prof Bachtler, director of Strathclyde University's European policies research centre, echoed Dr Dardanelli's view.

He said: "There is a lot of scope for mischief-making.

"A number of member states have an interest in not making it seem like a smooth and easy process, so that would prolong certain aspects, possibly, of negotiations.

"But I do think there would have to be some bridge, some interim arrangements."

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