Steve Bullock+ Your Authors @GuitarMoog New Album, One Thousand Days, out now exclusively through @EUCitizensChamp (link below). 100% of proceeds fo to @the3million. Nov. 26, 2019 2 min read + Your Authors

Lots of talk and questions about the prospects and process for an Indy Scotland to join the EU. I’d highly recommend this short, clear paper from @KirstyS_Hughes of the @SCER_eu.

In terms of timing, I’d agree with Kirsty that 4-5 years is about right, including 2 years for ratification, but, as she mentions, there’s an important question about when the start to this timeline would be.

Most assume that the timeline for accession would begin on Independence Day, and formally that’s very likely, but I think this timeline could be shortened a bit if EU would agree to informal discussions between the Indy decision and independence itself.

This could potentially make the time between Scotland’s formal application and Council making a decision to grant Candidate Status shorter, but could also bring the formal application itself forward to as close to Indy day as possible.

There is a precedent for this in the EU’s approach to Kosovo, where negotiations on an association agreement* happened before formal independence. Of course, Kosovo was a special unique case, but a pro-EU iScotland post-Brexit is something of a unique case too.

I also think that getting to the Association Agreement is perhaps even more important in the short-to-medium term than the overall timeline for membership.

Scotland’s convergence with the acquis means an Assoc Agreement could include very significant single-market access, reciprocal recognition, travel & free movement provisions.

This is particularly the case if iScotland took a unilateral position of granting these to the EU (a la Ukraine dropping visa requirements) initially.

It is also important to remember that a pre-accession Association Agreement*, would, if it followed the same process as in the Western Balkans, apply on signature, not ratification. This makes it a far quicker process.

If pre-independence talks towards getting an Assoc Agreement* in place could happen, this would minimise the time before Indy and the agreement entering into force, and therefore making the Brexit-Indy-AA process as seemless as possible.

I had initially thought that, with a long enough transition period, that could be almost entirely seemless, but with only 11 months transition if Brexit happens on the 31st Jan, it won’t be. If transition is extended though, there’d be more time to work towards an AA.

So I think @NicolaSturgeon’s line that it could be done “relatively quickly” is correct. 4-5 years is only the usual time between general elections and many policies require more than one term to implement fully.

And “implement fully” is important. The goal will be full membership, but this is a process, and the early steps on the way to that goal bring very significant economic and other benefits for the journey.

There isn’t just one prize at the end.

PS *Association Agreement is a catch-all term as these pre-accession agreements have had different names, and the term has been used in non-accession contexts. It’s used as equivalent to the Western Balkans countries’ Stabilisation and Association Agreements here.

You can follow @GuitarMoog.


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