Sidney Lawyer examines how an independent Scotland might apply for membership of the EU.

Professor Kenneth Armstrong has recently given evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee regarding the route by which an independent Scotland might apply for membership of the European Union.

In its recent white paper the Scottish Government has outlined its preferred route for membership, through a treaty amendment under Article 48 TEU, but Professor Armstrong has argued that this strategy would create significant legal and political obstacles to EU membership. Giving evidence before MPs, he argued that the proposed procedures will also make Scotland reliant on the United Kingdom – as the existing member state – to conduct any treaty revision negotiations with the European Union on its behalf.

Critics of the alternative route, known as the Article 49 TEU accession process, argue that were it to make its application for membership only after independence, Scotland might then have to join a queue of applicant member states, effectively creating a gap in its membership of the European Union. Querying this in his evidence, Professor Armstrong highlights that whatever route to membership is chosen, negotiations could begin after the referendum vote, but that the risk of a legal gap between independence and EU membership cannot be ruled out.

Professor Armstrong will give oral evidence before the European and External Affairs Committee of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 23rd January.

Further coverage of Professor Armstrong's evidence can be found in the online editions of The Herald and The Scotsman.

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