SCOTLAND is in a “good place” to swiftly join the EU following a Yes vote, the Constitution Secretary has said.

At the launch of the seventh white paper in the Building a New Scotland series, Angus Robertson said that there are “unique” aspects to Scotland’s position as a former member of the bloc, as part of the UK.

Speaking at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Musselburgh, Robertson told The National that he was confident Scotland would be in an “advantageous” position to accede to the EU.

The paper, titled An Independent Scotland in the EU, set out that Scotland would seek to undertake a “normal” process to becoming a member of the bloc.

According to the document this takes around five years on average, but for some countries, such as Austria, Finland and Sweden, it has only taken two years.

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The Scottish Government believes “Scotland would be well placed to fulfil the requirements of the accession process under Article 49 of the TEU [Treaty of the European Union] smoothly and quickly”.

Article 49 sets out the details of how a country can join the EU, such as a commitment to promoting the bloc's values. 

Speaking to journalists after a roundtable with students, Robertson said that different countries will start from various places when it comes to applying to join the EU.

He said: “I just think Scotland is in a good place going into potential negotiations having already been in the European Union for 47 years.

“I'm not going to second guess the circumstances, the capacity of the European Union to conduct concurrent accession arrangements with other countries. There are a lot of extraneous factors in all of this. All I'm saying is, here's the known knowns.

The National:

“I think it's also fair to say that we would start in a good position beyond that, I'm not speculating on less, more than, whatever.”

Robertson added that he was confident that following a Yes vote and Scotland began negotiations with the bloc to rejoin, the country would be “starting from an advantageous position”.

“It’s just a statement of fact, we were within the European Union, we have upheld the acquis communautaire.

“I would note, we would be a relatively wealthy member state of the European Union, especially when one contrasts our economic position with those countries that are seeking to join.

“I think for all of those reasons and the publicly avowed views of significant Europeans saying that if we vote for it, it's not for them to involve themselves, but if people in Scotland vote for this, then Scotland would be welcomed.”

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On some countries only taking two years to complete the process, Robertson added: “I would observe though, that what all of those countries had in common was that they had never been member states of the European Union.

“So does that present Scotland with an opportunity? Does that present the European Union with an opportunity of starting from a different place than everybody else has? Absolutely.

“Why? Because we have been in, we have upheld the standards of European Union membership and we would have the capacity to do so as a member state.”

The Constitution Secretary told reporters that the 78-page document was not only to show Scots the potential benefits of EU membership, but to signal to Brussels that Scotland could benefit the bloc too.

The National:

“This is not a case that rests on - this is something that is solely good for people who live in Scotland," the minister said. "Of course it will be, but it’s also something that will bring advantages to the European institutions and the European Union member states.”

He went on: “That is a significant reason why I think in both Brussels and EU capital cities, people have repeatedly said that it’s not for them to get involved in our internal processes, but as we’ve been able to see from leading European observers, including former Spanish foreign ministers, that if we vote in a democratic process, that is the agreed and accepted route to do so in the UK, that of course they’re not going to stand in the way of Scotland rejoining the European Union.”

He insisted that Scotland’s previous membership of the UK and intent to “uphold the rules of the European Union”, in contrast to Westminster and the UK Government, are factors that will be considered “quite closely” in Brussels and elsewhere when negotiations are underway.

Robertson and External Affairs Minister Christina McKelvie joined a number of students from universities across Scotland for a round table at the launch.

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Katie Devereux, who is studying film and media at QMU, said she was impressed by the ministers willing to “listen” as well as talk about the contents of the paper.

She told The National: “I think they were challenged a little bit by some of the students, and unlike some politicians who give empty answers, I feel like we actually came away with some knowledge. Whatever they are proposing, it is possible and it's not going to be an easy route to the destination.

“I think it's a great start and them seeing the challenges but also the possibilities that are at the end of a long journey that is possibly ahead for Scotland, it’s quite inspiring.”