Britain is ready for Brexit (to quit the EU) and Scotland wants another independence referendum which the UK refused.

Following Brexit, if Scotland gains independence from the UK, is it difficult for Scotland to become a EU member if they want to join it?

Do they have to wait for some years before applying for a membership?


I saw the flagged question but I am asking after Brexit and that question is in no way related to Brexit.

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    But how do we know the legal status of Scotland if it becomes an independent state? Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 10:31
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  • 2
    @MartinSchröder, I think this being post-Brexit makes it a new Q. The EU might be hungrier, as it were...
    – agc
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 15:34
  • The EU has been saying that this sort of thing could be easy and quick, e.g. in the case of a reunified Ireland. It's likely that Scotland would be able to rejoin very quickly.
    – user
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 10:49
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    A reunified ireland would not have a long land border with england like scotland does......................... Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


Probably not very hard.

Scotland already does all of the things it needs to in terms of political systems, laws and regulations to be an EU member, since it already is one. It would have to take over the tasks that are now done by the U.K. government on its behalf, but otherwise, it would be qualified.

I suspect that it could be done in a year or two (the EU bureaucracy is not known for being swift at anything). It might even get provisional status in the meantime by virtue of its unique status as a recent and former EU member.

Converting to being an independent state would be much harder than joining the EU once it achieved independence status and it worked out all of the necessary "divorce" arrangements with the U.K. And, that job would be made easier than it might be by its already substantial legal autonomy with its own legal system (except for the U.K. Supreme Court), its own legislature, etc.

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    One issue might the deficit concerns, though, give that Scotland's deficit seems to be about 6.5% higher than the threshold for EU entry (3% of GDP)
    – penalosa
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 11:55
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    It would depend upon how assets and liabilities were split in the UK-Scotland "divorce."
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 12:40

One big reason why the EU might not accept the then-independent Scotland as a member state is the risk of separation of further states within the EU. A membership in the EU is not just about fulfilling the entry hurdles, but is largely political! That being said, if a then-independent Scotland is able to join the EU, what is the signal to regions within the EU which are willing to separate? Such as Catalonia, South Tirol, Bavaria etc... If they are given such a signal they might feel that their separation ambitions are backed by the EU, a signal which could potentially drive a wedge between EU member states and therefore cannot happen.

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    But the situation with other regions is quite different, since the state from which they would separate would remain in the EU.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 17:57
  • You still indirectly support the separation of Scotland by giving it a perspective. It is the same signal for Catalonia etc. I believe it is not relevant whether the situation is different, it just matters whether it is conceived differently.
    – Max
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 0:31
  • The point of making it difficult for Catalonia to join the EU after a hypothetical secession is to support Spain, an EU member state, in its opposition to that secession. This discourages secession and supports the perception of EU membership as beneficial. The point of welcoming Scotland would be the same: it supports the Scots, who are pro-EU, and should serve as a disincentive to the rest of the UK to leave. The EU has no reason to support the UK (hypothetically a former member state) as it supports Spain (a current member state); the narrative reinforces the desirability of EU membership.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 0:42

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