Brussels insiders reveal plans to preserve Scotland’s EU membership in event of independence

Talks over an independent Scotland’s EU membership have been taking place at Brussels, according to one insider.

Dr Kirsty Hughes has been told Scotland could be placed in a “transitional holding pen” after Article 50 TEU is triggered which could could prevent the country having to re-apply for membership in the event it becomes independent.

Dr Hughes, a former political adviser to the European Commission and an associate fellow at think tank Friends of Europe said it would be “logical” to call a referendum by next Summer so the result is within the UK’s two-year exit period from the EU.

Speaking to Holyrood’s Europe Committee, she said: “I talk to people in Brussels, off the record, who are talking about Scotland being in some sort of transitional holding pen. It wouldn’t have a seat in the Council of Ministers until ratification of the treaties, but it wouldn’t have to go through an absurd out and then in process.”

On the timing of a future referendum, Dr Hughes added: “If Scotland waits until nearly the end of the two years to say, ‘This isn’t okay and now we’re having an independence referendum’, you might not have had that and had time to have the negotiations with the rest of the UK on dissolving the union before the whole of the UK has left.

“So, it’s obviously a very big political judgement about whether and when to call an independence referendum. If it was only a question of logic, you would call it as soon as possible in my view.

“You would call it, let’s say, by next summer because then you would have actually had the dissolution talks - if it was successful - with the UK before the UK left. That would make it much easier for the EU to get into some of these transitional holding pen arrangements than otherwise.”

While some have suggested Scotland could inherit the UK’s arrangement with the EU, Dr Hughes warned it would not welcome such an arrangement and that Scotland would have to back the European project as it is.

She added: “If the idea of a successor state is that you want the opt-outs from the euro, the budget rebate, the opt-in deal on justice and home affairs, I don’t think that will be forthcoming.”