An Independent Scotland and the EU

If Scotland votes 'Yes' on 18 Sept 2014, what kind of relationship would it have with the rest of Europe? The Buchanan Institute tackles this crucial question in Buchanan's first research piece. Many thanks to Dr. Daniel Kenealy for his support as the academic mentor on this project.






Njord Gording

Walter Hawes

Contributing Editor:

Dr. Daniel Kenealy


Ella Joyner

Dionisis Pelekis

Liza Root

Grace Rosinski

Dillon Zhou

Executive Summary

An independent Scotland is eligible to join the EU, but must apply on the same terms as any

prospective EU state, and meet the requirements listed in the Copenhagen Criteria before a formal bilateral negotiation process between Scotland and the EU can begin.

Meeting the formal requirements within the 18-month timeline is likely to prove the most difficult for Scotland to do in the "gap between the vote and the moment of independence", and so it is not unimaginable that Scotland will remain formally outside the EU beyond the 18-month timeline agreed between the Scottish and UK governments.

Economically, Scotland can maintain strong trade relations with both EU and non-EU countries regardless of EU membership, but must at least join the EEA in order to avoid facing the common external tariff imposed on non-EEA trade partners. Independence from the UK will also shift economic dependence towards mainland Europe, as the convenience of doing business across the Scotland-UK border will lessen, and the regulatory systems diverge.

In terms of national security, Scotland will benefit from preexisting military installments and

infrastructure, but will suffer from a severely decreased defence budget and exclusion from the "Five-Eyes" intelligence-sharing community of the UK, US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The future of Scottish security capabilities will ultimately depend heavily on the outcome of negotiations with the UK and EU on cooperation in areas such as intelligence, defence, and law enforcement.

The UK independence and EU ascension process is likely to face obstacles not foreseen in the White Paper nor by sitting ministers, and negotiations with the UK and EU will not be on Scotland's terms, especially given the application of the ‘continuity of effect’ doctrine. The Republic of Ireland's independence process may therefore provide valuable insight on everything from how to switch national currency to questions of membership in the Schengen free travel area.