Scotland’s Brexit Choices

Author (Person)
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Series Details No.1, April 2017
Publication Date April 2017
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The Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER) was launched in March 2017 as a new, independent and unaligned Scottish EU think tank.

SCER) aimed to inform, debate, and provide up-to-the-minute, high-quality research and analysis of European Union developments and challenges. It would focus on pan-EU issues as well as having a particular focus on Scotland’s EU interests and policies.

SCER would provide in-depth, impartial research and analysis on Brexit – looking at EU27, UK and Scottish interests and debates. SCER would also carry out up-to-the minute policy research on a range of key European Union issues including the future of the EU at a time of multiple challenges; the migration and refugee crisis, and the EU’s turbulent neighbourhood.The Scottish Centre on European Relations issued in April 2017 a policy paper, Scotland’s Brexit Choices, by its Director, Dr Kirsty Hughes.

The paper argued that:

+ Voters would know, in March 2019, if there was a UK-EU27 deal on Brexit or not. In the case of no deal, with the UK heading for the ‘WTO cliff’, there would be a major UK economic and political crisis. Some would argue that a second independence referendum should be postponed while the crisis was resolved. The pro-independence side would be likely to argue the crisis made continuing with the referendum even more vital.

+ Voters would know if Nicola Sturgeon, and the SNP, were proposing a rapid route into the EU for Scotland, if there was a ‘yes’ vote to independence, or instead membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) – either permanently or as a transition.

+ But if Nicola Sturgeon proposed a transition route to the EU via the EEA (Norway model), the European Commission might disagree – suggesting instead a bespoke association agreement (as is normal in recent accessions to the EU). The EEA route will imply Scotland on the sidelines of European politics – and needing to establish many more regulatory structures and agencies than if it re-joined the EU.

+ If the choice for voters is between staying in the UK in the context of a UK-EU27 trade/Brexit deal and Scotland being independent in the EEA, the debate could become a highly detailed one over the impact of these different sets of trade arrangements.

+ In contrast, a choice between the UK-EU27 trade and security deal and independence in the EU would mean potentially a bigger set of political, foreign policy and economic arguments about the future UK-EU27 relationship and the future potential Scotland-rUK relationship.

Overall, Scotland would be debating, and deciding, how it wanted to relate to the EU and the wider world – from inside or outside the EU, independent or not.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: United Kingdom: General Election 2017 - the situation in Scotland: Illustrating the spectacular decline of Labour in Scotland and the revival of the Scottish Conservatives / The election battle for Scotland / Scottish National Party hampered by Brexit and its own success
SCER: Press Release, 17.04.17: ‘Scotland’s Brexit Choices’ – New Policy Paper by SCER
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union

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