SCOTLAND should start thinking like a EU member state in waiting, rather than focusing only on the impact of Brexit, an independence summit has heard.

Toni Giugliano, the SNP’s policy convener, said the party and wider Yes movement should outline a vision what for happens once Scotland joins Europe.

He argued it was important to set the agenda as opposed to letting unionists dominate with claims such as Scotland being at the “back of the queue” for joining the EU or having too large a deficit to join.

The National: Toni GiuglianoToni Giugliano

“We need to address those points and we can address those points,” Giugliano said.

“But more than that our leadership, our government, our parliamentarians need to start thinking about the actual politics of being a European member state.

“What positions are we going to take on climate change – are we going to be a leader in Europe on climate change, are we going to direct that agenda? What will we do with that influence and power?

“That is the kind of thing I think we are stalling a bit on – that vision piece is a little bit missing.”

The issue was debated at an online seminar held last week, organised by Giugliano, with speakers SNP president Michael Russell and Dr Kirsty Hughes, an independent expert on Europe.

The National: Dr Kirsty HughesDr Kirsty Hughes

The proposal to hold a referendum on the terms of a membership deal negotiated between the new state and the EU was also discussed.

Giugliano said he would like to see Scotland be more like Ireland and Finland either as “very pro-European member states”, rather than Denmark and Sweden, for example.

He added: “The reality is that because of the geo-politics we will probably end up being in the UK Common Travel area, so it would be tricky for us to join Schengen.

“But that is just to give an example of what kind of member state we would be – is it going to be more mildly Eurosceptic, or is it going to be more in tune with the Ireland and Finland?

“I think that is an interesting discussion.”

He said that debate could include what alliances an independent Scotland could build within the EU, Budgets and whether to pursue a “reformist” agenda for policies on fisheries and agriculture.

“We’re very good in the Yes movement at pointing to the problems of the UK, but actually what we need to do is build the alternative and build that vision,” he added.

“So I would like to see a parliamentarian start to talk about it a little bit more and when we publish our blueprint for independence, I would like to see a bit more of that discourse.

“Scotland is a world-leader in climate change, renewables, fisheries and lots of other areas and we would be able to bring that expertise to the table and be leaders in Europe in many such fields.

“In areas of policy where we have been very much leading the charge on social justice issues, we would certainly be able to bring a lot of expertise – and that’s an area we could look at.”

However, he argued against the idea of joining Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) rather than the EU.

“The last time people joined EFTA was 30 years ago. Why would we want to be part second-class citizens in Europe when we could be first-class citizens?” he said.

“In the EFTA and EEA, you don’t get MEPs, you don’t get a commissioner, you don’t get a judge in the European Court of Justice, you don’t get a seat on the European Council, you don’t get that permanent civil service representation, you don’t get a voice, so we would be rule-takers but not rule-makers.

“That is a democratic deficit.”