Europe is our Oyster. Scotland's Accession to EFTA, EEA and/or the EU

Primary Author or Creator:
Peter Sellar
Scottish Independence Convention
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The EU is not the only possible European option for an independent Scotland. Two other options are available:  joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or the EU

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There are two clear, legitimate options: accession to the European Economic Area (EEA) through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA); and accession to the European Union (EU). This paper looks at each option in turn outlining why one may want to accede to the EEA or EU (and to an extent, present the pros and cons of doing so); some of the legal and technical steps involved; and the potential timings.  It does appear to be the case that Scotland wishes to forge a closer relationship, in terms both of trade and of sharing values, than is currently being offered by the government at Westminster.

If an independent Scotland has real international ambition and if it wants to be more like Ireland, Luxembourg or Denmark with the legal power of veto over big ticket political decisions like accession and Treaty amendments, then it is EU membership which ticks the boxes. It is the model, however, that will pose the most tension with rUK and will require greater patience and sacrifices – think, for example, of the current issues at the border between the EU and UK. An independent Scotland will face similar challenges because it will become the new border between the EU and rUK. If an independent Scotland wants to be more like an Iceland or Norway, on the other hand, unilaterally defending interests that matter to it – fish and agriculture – while giving up on having a legal say on most other matters that regulate trade and movement of EEA persons, then the EEA via EFTA is the appropriate model. Compared to the EU, this model offers a more flexible trading and border relationship with rUK. It ought to be quicker and requiring of less change.