THE admission of an independent Scotland into the EU "is not in serious doubt" but the timescale of 18 months is "ambitious", according to an academic study.
Stephen Tierney and Katie Boyle of Edinburgh University, writing as part of the Future of the UK and Scotland programme, conclude that it is "unlikely 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."
The report, funded by the Economic & Social Research Council, broadly makes good reading for the Scottish Government and the Yes campaign, but it does cast doubt on the White Paper's preferred mechanism for entry using Article 48 - in effect application from within - which it calls plausible but dependent on political will from EU countries, and says the normal application route through Article 49 is more likely.
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The report states: "The accession of an independent Scotland to the EU is not in serious doubt.
"The timetable proposed by the Scottish Government whereby full accession to the EU will be achieved by March, 2016, is ambitious. There will be a number of important and possibly contentious issues to be dealt with in the negotiations and the timetable for ratification by each member state is unpredictable.
"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."
Tierney and Boyle argue that if negotiations continue at the point of Scottish independence "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 add: "Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, is already part of the EU, it is of economic, strategic and territorial importance to the EU, it is integrated into its institutions, its territory is subject to EU law, and residents of Scotland enjoy the rights of EU citizenship.
"It is also not in its (The EU's) interests to face the administrative upheaval which the removal of Scotland from the writ of EU law would bring."
They add: "For all of these reasons it would seem that it is in the interests of the EU to ensure that the jurisdiction of EU law and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship continue to apply to Scotland and those resident in Scotland in any intervening period between independence and full EU membership."