It is unlikely that an independent Scotland would be cut off from the rights and obligations of EU membership for any period of time, according to research from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

It found that although it is likely that it would have to apply through the accession process for new members, EU membership for independent Scotland is not in any serious doubt.

The research is part of the ESRC funded project, The Future of the UK and Scotland.

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The paper explores the legal issues surrounding membership of the European Union for an independent Scotland.

It found that "there are strong reasons to believe that in the event of a Yes vote in the September referendum the European Union would be prepared to open negotiations aimed at securing the membership of an independent Scotland".

Researchers note it is highly likely that the United Kingdom will continue in membership of the EU should Scotland become independent, while it is likely that Scotland will require to apply for accession through Article 49 of the European treaties - the process of joining for new member states.

Article 48 - which the Scottish Government says would allow Scotland to negotiate its membership from within - also offers a "plausible route to membership depending upon the political will" of the EU, the paper found.

Researchers said the timetable proposed by the Scottish Government which sets out plans for full accession by March 2016 is "ambitious", but "it is unlikely, however, that an independent Scotland would find itself cut off from the rights and obligations that come with European Union membership for any period of time".

"In the event that formal accession has not been secured by independence day it is likely that temporary provisions will be put in place to ensure that the rights and obligations arising from the EU treaties will continue to apply to Scotland in the interim period," they said.