Scotland’s separatist parties won the most seats in last Thursday’s election, which means there is talk once again about leaving the UK.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Greens both supported an independence platform and rejoined the European Union, winning over 50% of the vote.
The UK government is currently ruling out another referendum, but if the time comes, how easy would it be for Scots to rejoin the EU?
Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Center for European Relations, said there would not be too many difficulties, given the country’s recent history within the bloc.
“If there is an affirmative vote in a referendum, I think if it is in the next five years, Scotland will continue to be very close to EU laws and legislation that has almost half a century of experience within the European Union,” Hughes. he told Euronews. “So I think there is a pretty clear path to accession.”
“However, an independent Scotland will have to realize that there is a process to go through, criteria to meet,” he added. “There’s no kind of nice illusion and wand wave and you’re back because you were there once before.”
Right now, the UK is almost completely aligned with EU law, but this could change in the coming years, depending on how far the UK decides to go in its own post-Brexit direction.
Scotland would also have to establish several new institutions that EU membership requires.
“If you apply to join the EU, it will be a new state,” Hughes explained. “It has not been a state for the last 300 years. So you will have many different institutions and regulatory bodies, laws to establish things that were previously done from London or in the UK.
“So although it somehow seems quite simple for Scotland to meet the so-called Copenhagen criteria, to show that it is a properly functioning democracy, to show that it is a market economy.”
There would also be the problem of the border between Scotland and England, one country within the EU and the other outside. But Hughes says the current Irish border hardship experience would make this process a little easier.
On the European side, any agreement between Edinburgh and Brussels would require the blessing of all member states, and some countries, particularly Spain, have their own separatist issues to consider.
“Spain would be fine with [a] Application for membership provided that the independence process has been legal and constitutional, and what that will mean especially from Spain’s point of view and from the point of view of other EU member states is essentially that London and Edinburgh agreed to it. ” Hughes told Euronews.
“If London is not internationally recognized in Scotland and if Scotland is somehow leaving the UK without a negotiated divorce, then it will be very difficult.”
But the SNP leader has previously said that this is not a process that she even wants to contemplate.
He said a consultative referendum could be held if the UK government blocks any legal referendum, but the preference is for a legitimate vote.
However, one area that could be of great concern is public finances.
An independent Scotland could risk starting its new life with a much larger deficit than what EU rules normally allow.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism