Scotland and the EU: Comment by BRUNO DE WITTE

Two main options have been put on the table for (re-)accommodating an independent Scotland in the European Union: accession of an independent Scotland to the European Union by means of the procedure of accession of new member states set out in Article 49 TEU; or accommodation of Scotland as a new member state at the same time as it achieves independence, by means of a revision of the European Treaties according to Article 48 TEU. The latter option is supported by the Scottish government in its Scotland’s Future White Paper of November 2013. The Treaty revision would enter into force at the same time as Scotland would become independent (and the government suggested a date for this to happen, namely 24 March 2016). In this way, there would be a seamless transition. Scotland would not first drop out of the EU by separating from the UK, and later climb in again through an accession treaty; it would simply stay inside the EU all the time.

I agree with Sionaidh Douglas-Scott that this approach is more attractive. Indeed, EU law currently applies on Scottish territory, and both British and EU nationals living on Scottish territory are currently EU citizens, and benefit from the rights attached to that status. Nobody really wants this to change. It would therefore be awkward and costly, both for Scotland and for the rest of Europe, if EU law would cease to apply to Scotland upon its independence, and would have to be restored later, after an accession treaty had entered into force. Indeed, such a temporal gap is logically inherent in taking the accession route: a state can only request membership of the EU after it has become independent ...

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