If Scotland became independent it would have to reapply for European Union (EU) [official website] membership, according to a report [text, PDF] released Monday by the HM Treasury [official website], the UK's economic and finance ministry. A referendum on Scottish independence is scheduled [IBT report] for fall 2014. The possibility of secession has raised concern over the relationship between an independent Scotland and preexisting UK membership in a number of international organizations, particularly the EU. As noted in the report "there is no clear precedent for a metropolitan part of an EU Member State becoming independent and then either claiming automatic membership or seeking in its own right to join the EU." The report indicates that most likely Scotland would be required to join the EU as a new member state, and therefore be subject to the application procedure and requirements. The report mirrors remarks made [BBC report] by European Commission [official website] President Jose Manuel Barroso [official profile] in a BBC interview in December, where he stated that any independent state would have to apply for EU membership according to the established rules.
The recent push for a referendum regarding Scotland's independence has marked a turning point [JURIST report] in the decades-long negotiations between Scotland and the UK. In October British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond [official websites] formally agreed to hold a referendum [JURIST report] regarding the independence of Scotland, potentially ending the union between the two nations in place since the Union with England Act of 1707 [text]. The current draft of the referendum differs considerably in terms and direction from the original [JURIST report], presented in February 2010, although both draw their authority from Section 30 of the Scotland Act [text]. Current polls [Bloomberg report] show 48 percent of Scottish voters opposed to independence with 28 percent in support of it.