AN independent Scotland could benefit from joining the Euro, an expert has said.

Dr Kirsty Hughes, founder of the former think tank the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said Scotland should consider joining the European Union currency after independence.

Speaking on The Herald’s Scotland’s Future Q&A, the former economist insisted that the EU would not force Scotland to join the Euro if it came into the 27-nation bloc with its own currency.

She said: “I think there is a lot of confusion about the currency question and especially vis-a-vis the European Union.

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"Obviously, it's an important political and social issue especially in the early years what impact a different currency will have on Scotland's economy."

Hughes said it would take an independent Scotland around four to five years to join the EU.

She continued: “SNP currency policy currently says 'we'll go for sterlingisation and then we will move to a Scottish currency’.

"Well if we've done that in four to five years, then you just join the EU as long as you meet any other criteria like any other member state would. And if you haven't done that in four to five years then [there's] an interesting question.

"And it's unprecedented but it doesn't mean we couldn't have a discussion with the EU about it. Could you say to the EU we want to stay in the pound for another two, or three or four years, even as we'll go straight to joining the Euro?"

The SNP's policy on a post-independent currency is for Scotland to continue using the pound until it can establish its own.

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Dr Kirsty Hughes said Scotland could benefit from making the Euro its official currency post-independence

Asked by Brian Taylor whether there will be an insistence on Scotland to join the Euro, she said “there will have to be a commitment to it” but added: “It is true if you come in with your currency you cannot be made to join the Euro."

She warned that an independent Scotland shouldn’t do what British prime ministers have done and say “one thing in Brussels then another in London or Edinburgh”.

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Co-panellist Graham Avery, honorary director-general of the European Commission, said the EU has never made anyone join the Euro.

He dismissed the "scare stories" and "false arguments" around Scotland rejoining the EU, including joining its official currency and the Schengen Area – the bloc's zone of unrestricted movement.

He said: “Scotland will only join the Euro when and if it thinks it is in its national interest to do so.”

Hughes replied: "It could be very much in its interests because you're going to have a discussion about what happens to a Scottish currency. Will it be weak, will it be damaging to the independent Scottish economy?

"If Scotland joined the Euro very fast then that's not going to be weak against the pound Sterling. So there are potential positives to being in the Euro."