I REFER to Hamish Morrison’s piece “Scotland could re-join the EU just four years after indy” (Aug 12).

Up to now, leading public figures – in political office and out, in this party or that party or no party at all – have got away with blank denial, as if feigning ignorance, of a matter which is both central to re-joining the EU, or to joining the European Free Trade Association (Efta), and to independence itself, namely the currency question. Whether they are clinically “in denial” or just economical with the truth, this must now stop.

The undated report, released through a freedom of information request, about which Hamish Morrison wrote on Saturday, lets this cat peek gingerly out of the bag in which it has been detained.

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Discussing key issues mentioned in the report that might affect any application to join the EU, Hamish writes: “These included the currency policy pursued by Scotland after independence. It is widely expected the EU would maintain its current policy and not allow Scotland to join while it is using sterling after independence, until a new currency is set up.” (my italics) Aha, out you come “kitty-kitty”, out you come.

Hamish continues: “The advice said: ‘While some commentators have suggested it could take three to four years to negotiate accession, it is important to remember that Scotland will be in a unique position having already been in the EU and therefore complying with most of the acquis. On the other hand this timing will also depend on how the Scottish Government approaches other policy issues, including the question of an independent currency’.” (my italics)

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This is no revelation to many who take a passing interest in such matters. Yet, in the political arena and in wider Scottish society, there are enthusiasts for the EU who continue to talk as if joining the EU was like ordering a pizza. I dread the pro-EU/indy rally in Edinburgh on September 2, because the same blithe nonsense is likely to be peddled there.

The reality is that no country has ever joined the EU without already having several years’ experience of running its own economy through the mechanism of a central bank and an independent currency (issued by said bank).

A central bank and a currency are basic requirements to apply to join the EU, and then there are several years’ delay before possible accession. Equally, a central bank and a currency are basic requirements to join Efta/the European Economic Community, the alternative route back to Europe, but as I understand this can be achieved more quickly, giving us most of the benefits of the EU while awaiting full accession some years later.

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Either way, we cannot discuss a return to Europe without first planning a central bank and a currency, which require to be set up as soon as possible after Independence Day. The Scottish Currency Group envisions two years between a Yes vote and Independence Day. The foundations of the new country, including the central bank, can be laid during those two years, and given the forward planning is also undertaken ahead of time, the new currency could be issued by the central bank within four months after Independence Day.

Only then, when the central bank has issued the new currency, can we start to talk seriously about applying to the EU and/or Efta. In the meantime, build the central bank and the currency into the forward planning for both independence and re-joining Europe.

Let’s hear EU enthusiasts and speakers talk about this. Let there be no more denial.

Norman Easton
via email