Independent Scotland Could Take Years to Join EU, U.K. Says

An Independent Scotland could take years to join the European Union and would have to overcome opposition from countries such as Spain facing separatist movements of their own, U.K. Foreign Office minister David Lidington said.

The complexity of negotiations over issues such as fishing rights, border controls and financial contributions means Alex Salmond’s plan of an independent Scotland in the EU by March 2016 is “implausible,” Lidington said, referring to the decade it took for Croatia to be accepted as a member.

“It’s very far from straightforward,” he said in an interview with ITV television. “Even though Scotland has already implemented EU law as part of the United Kingdom, they would have to have unanimous agreement from 28 different countries for Scotland’s membership, and with all the detail sorted out on the border, the euro, on fishing rights and on the budget.”

Scotland will vote in a referendum on independence on Sept. 18. Salmond’s Scottish National Party published a blueprint in November that saw an independent state in March 2016, with the pound as its currency and negotiation with the EU on the basis of the U.K.’s current terms.

“There’ll be some countries that have secession movements of their own that makes them cautious about giving the green light,” Lidington said. “We’ve had very clear statements from the prime minister of Spain amongst others that the legal position is that if Scotland decides to walk away from the U.K., she walks away from the EU at the same time and from the Commonwealth and from the United Nations and from NATO. And all those international relationships would have to be negotiated from scratch.”

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