UK

Scottish independence issues at-a-glance: EU membership

A European Union flag and Saltire flag blow in the wind near to Glen Coe, Scotland Image copyright Getty Images

What powers does the Scottish Parliament currently have and how might they change with independence or further devolution?

This page summarises the implications of the referendum for EU membership - one of seven different themes. The others are: The economy and currency,energy oil and gas, pensions and welfare, citizenship and immigration, defence and broadcasting.

More in-depth analysis on EU membership.


At present

As part of the UK, Scotland is subject to the same rules and rights that the EU applies to all member states.

It is not, however, part of the Schengen agreement which allows travel between other EU countries without the need for a passport.


After a Yes vote

The White Paper spells out that the Scottish government would enter into negotiations with Westminster and EU member states "to ensure that an independent Scotland achieves a smooth and timely transition to independent membership of the EU".

Scotland, it says, "will negotiate the terms of membership of the EU during the period it is still part of the UK and, therefore, part of the EU".

It adds that "this government sees close engagement with the EU as an opportunity for Scotland, rather than the threat it seems to be for some in the UK".

The pro-Union parties argue Scotland would face barriers to becoming an EU member, often citing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's advice that it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for an independent Scotland to join the European Union.


After a No vote

The Conservatives have said that if they are in government after the next general election they will hold a referendum on the UK's EU membership. Labour has said it would be "unlikely" to do so and the Lib Dems would not.

In their programmes for devolution, Labour does not specifically address EU matters and neither do the Conservatives, although they note that they would have recommended the devolution of VAT "were it not illegal under EU law".

The Lib Dems say that on EU matters, protocols and practices should be revised to reflect the need to negotiate and act on an agreed UK position where devolved responsibilities such as fishing or agriculture are concerned - particularly at the Council of Ministers level. Scottish ministers should be fully involved, to make sure that an agreed UK position is established, sustained and represented at meetings.


The policies under independence are taken from the Scottish government's White Paper on independence. Yes Scotland and other Yes campaigners do not necessarily share these positions.

Where Better Together has a stance, this has been cited. The separate Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem proposals are taken from their respective reports on devolution.

Both sides' preferred policies would be subject to negotiations following the referendum.

The Scottish government has said that following a Yes vote, arrangements would be in place for full independence from 24 March 2016.

The Better Together campaign has said that following a No vote draft legislation on devolution would be introduced by the end of January 2015.