The EU's Scottish question

18 June 2019
Fabian Zuleeg (Chief Executive and Chief Economist)

One of the unintended consequences of the Brexit vote almost three years ago has been the re-opening of the question of the UK’s territorial integrity. Most of the focus has, naturally, been on Northern Ireland, given the historical context and the challenge a hard border would constitute for the peace protest.

Less attention has been paid to the situation in Scotland, even though it voted strongly against leaving the EU: 62% of Scottish voters voted remain, while only 38% voted to leave - a higher remain vote than in Northern Ireland. If anything, this sentiment has become stronger, with polls suggesting that two-thirds of Scottish voters now support remaining in the EU.

In this Policy Brief, Fabian Zuleeg examines the effect of Brexit on the independence debate in Scotland, and considers under what circumstances – and conditions – an independent Scotland could join the EU.

In the end, if Scotland has become independent in a constitutional manner and is willing to go through the appropriate accession process, follows European principles, and is willing to commit to all the obligations that come with ‘regular’ EU membership, it would go against EU principles if the EU treats an independent Scotland different from any other accession hopeful.

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