BEFORE Westminster, I spent 16 years as one of Scotland’s six MEPs in the European Parliament.

I could therefore be accused of bias by my opening statement, yet my time there also allowed me to see how the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and the EU works in reality instead of pseudo-academic speculation.

Last week’s Scotland in Europe roadshow took Stephen Flynn and I to the Yes city of Dundee, where Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance Shona Robison MSP hosted a fantastic discussion with activists and branch members.

We also launched a new leaflet explaining why Scotland’s future is better in the EU than in Efta, which will hopefully address some of the misinformation that is flying around.

The enthusiasm for an independent Scotland in Europe was pulsating through the room and it was, as always, a pleasure to meet with and hear from all parts of our SNP family.

The following day I was in Rutherglen alongside Angus Robertson MSP and Christina McKelvie MSP, Cabinet Secretaries for External Affairs and Europe respectively. Chapping on the doors with activists and our brilliant candidate Katy Loudon, the enthusiasm I saw in Dundee for EU membership was also paramount on the doorsteps. The UK may have forgotten what the EU did for it but the people of Scotland have not.

READ MORE: Why the Rejoin EU campaign should support Scottish independence

Scotland voted 62% to Remain in the European Union, a figure that has only risen since 2016. People want to be back in the EU, not outside of it.

If we are therefore seen as trying to present Efta as effectively EU membership in all but name, the people of Scotland will see through that con just as they saw through the Leave campaign’s misinformation.

Allow me to explain the differences between the two.

The EU is a political and economic union of 27 member states. Efta is an intergovernmental organisation set up for the promotion of free trade and economic integration to the benefit of its four member states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Within the EU, there are different layers of integration. Within the Single Market, there is free movement of goods, services, capital and persons across Europe. The Customs Union ensures that there is a common tariff on imports from outside the EU and associated members, with no tariffs between member states. The Schengen Area allows member state’s citizens to move between different EU countries without being subject to border checks.

Efta states participate in the EU’s Single Market and Schengen Area, but are not part of its Customs Union. They must have a coordinated trade policy with the EU but have full rights to enter into third-country trade arrangements.

Three of the four Efta states also participate in the European Economic Area (EEA) alongside the EU member states (Switzerland separately negotiates bilateral agreements with the EU in a never-ending series of talks to access the Single Market). The EEA extended the EU’s internal market to those three countries which sees them incorporate the four freedoms of movement of goods, persons, services and capital, as well as various related policies.

READ MORE: Senior Tories continue to criticise 'racist' Suella Braverman

So far, so similar. There is though a crucial difference: EU member states are rule-shapers; Efta member states are rule-takers. EU member states propose, debate and adopt legislation via the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Efta states must accept and adopt unconditionally whatever is decided for them.

At the same time, whilst EU member states contribute to the collective budget of the EU, they have a say in how this money is spent, including for EU programmes such as Erasmus+ or Horizon Europe. Efta states also contribute billions of euros but have no say in how the money is spent.

When you are outside the club, you can pay to enter the building but you do not have a say in how that club is managed, organised or develops. Some argue that Efta is a half-way house that will make it easier to join the EU later. They argue that the process would be easier and straightforward.

It is not. Joining Efta means getting unanimous approval from the four member states. If Scotland also wants to have access to the Single Market, then it would also have to join the EEA. This would require the unanimous approval of every single member. Now imagine after going through two separate applications we now want to join the EU in a separate application and you can see how much more convoluted the process has become.

That all goes beside the point though. Scotland wants to be part of the EU, not Efta. If we only offer Efta membership and maybe EU membership down the line, we will lose. Moreover, we will squander what goodwill we have in Brussels by not being seen as serious or credible and instead being a smaller Britain – stand-offish, reluctant to be involved in the European project, and only seen as a burden as try to work out what we want.

We also already know what it was like to be part of the EU – except this time we will not have the UK speaking for us but instead be able to speak with our own voice. We could expect to double the number of MEPs that we previously had.

We would have a Scottish, not UK, Commissioner, as well as have a direct voice into how the EU evolves and responds to events.

Scotland can be part of a global A-Team with the EU; with Efta, we will only be able to accept whatever is handed down to us as we stand outside. I know where I would rather Scotland be.