Scotland politics

Scottish Independence: Alex Salmond says EU membership clarity to come next year

First Minister Alex Salmond has insisted the issue of an independent Scotland's status in the EU would be made clearer next year.

He said more detail would be provided in the Scottish government's referendum white paper to be published in 2013.

But Labour's Johann Lamont said that that was not good enough.

During First Minister's Questions on Thursday, she called on Mr Salmond to publish the legal advice he had been given on the issue.

Ms Lamont said he had so far failed to provide "a single shred of evidence" on the subject.

The Labour leader raised EU membership after President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso told the BBC: "A new state, if it wants to join the EU, has to apply to become a member of the EU, like any state."

Mr Salmond has always said that Scotland would remain a member of the EU if independence became a reality.

He told the parliament that everything in the forthcoming white paper would be "fully consistent and informed by the legal advice that we receive".

Mr Salmond argued there was a difference between the "40 years of membership of the European Union" which Scotland had had and a "country which is trying to join the European Union for the first time like Turkey".

He again said an independent Scotland "quite clearly will remain part of the European Union and negotiations will take place from within that context".

The first minister also said he would be breaching the ministerial code by disclosing legal advice on the issue.

'No such thing'

Ms Lamont hit back and said: "Meaningless assertion on the pound has descended into deliberate deception on the euro.

"While Alex Salmond fails to provide a single shred of evidence, President Barroso does - Scotland would have to reapply to the EU and join the euro with all the disastrous economic consequences that would have.

"Alex Salmond has to understand although when he says something his backbenchers agree, we expect more than simple assertion.

"He refuses to tell the people of Scotland the truth. When is he planning to tell them - now, never or when it is too late?"

Mr Salmond said Mr Barroso had said "no such thing" about the euro.

He added: "I offered what I think is a reasonable solution to these matters, to conform to the ministerial code and provide the information that the people wish to have.

"And that is on the publication of the white paper, a full year before the decision on the referendum, these areas of continuing European membership for an independent Scotland will be examined in great detail."