At the EUobserver, Benjamin Fox outlines the potential trouble spots for a post-independence Scottish government in any attempt to join the EU directly:
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has indicated that he wants to keep the pound sterling rather than join the euro despite the fact that a commitment to join the single currency is in all recent EU access treaties.
Meanwhile, with Scotland having a large fisheries sector and being one of the largest claimants of EU structural funds in the UK, it would be likely to seek its own country-specific exemptions and opt-outs.
There has already been confusion over whether Scotland would have to negotiate its own accession treaty with the rest of the EU. Although Scottish ministers have claimed that this would be a formality, it admitted that it has not sought legal advice. In response to parliamentary questions, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that “a new state, if it wants to join the EU has to apply to become a member of the EU, like any state.”
The committee concluded that “it is clear from these statements that there is no formal, automatic right to Scottish membership of the EU.”
It noted that regarding Scottish EU membership as a formality “seems to us to misjudge the issue and underestimate the unease that exists with the EU member states … about Scottish independence.”
It said Scotland could also struggle to secure the same opt-outs as Britain together with new Scotland-specific exemptions.