SCOTLAND is as “un European” as the rest of the UK despite pro-EU “sentiment” expressed among its leaders and voters, according to a leading scholar.

Writing to mark the third Brexit anniversary on Tuesday, Anthony Salamone argued that while Scots were removed by the UK from membership of the bloc despite voting to remain, ministers in Edinburgh have done little to maintain close relations.

He described "substantial disconnects” between Scotland and its European neighbours arguing closer ties could have been maintained by the devolved government despite the UK leaving the EU.

“A façade of pro-EU sentiment in Scottish politics and society masks Scotland’s substantial disconnects from the politics, institutions and functioning of the European Union at European and national levels.

"While internal and external observers may have the impression, by virtue of that sentiment, that Scotland is a Europeanised polity, it is in central respects as equally un-Europeanised as the rest of the UK,” he wrote in an essay entitled the “the Great Scottish European Illusion”.

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The intervention by Mr Salamone, who is a member of the Europa Institute at the University of Edinburgh, comes after the Herald on Sunday revealed last month that the Scottish Government has not kept Scots legislation in step with hundreds of changes in EU law despite a “keeping pace” provision in its landmark EU Continuity Act enabling it to do so.

I also comes months after The Herald revealed the plummeting number of school pupils studying European languages, a trend replicated in other parts of the UK, though not in Ireland. For instance, in Ireland 8438 pupils sat German at Leaving certificate level (the equivalent of Higher Level) last year, while just 505 pupils in Scotland entered the subject at Higher Level. The two countries have similar pupil population sizes.

Mr Salamone raised First Minister Nicola Sturgeon "blunt" rejection of an independent Scotland joining the European single currency saying "it was not right for Scotland" as another instance of the drift between Scotland and the EU. He pointed to the euro as being "an integral part" of the European project.

“To begin, we should question why the premise of an independent Scotland joining the euro is habitually framed as something which should inherently be avoided,” he said.

“Besides acting as the second global reserve currency, the euro is an integral part of the European project. It speaks to the dysfunction of Scotland’s EU debate that many seem to believe that support for EU membership and antipathy towards the euro do not contradict each other.

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“Moreover, even if the consensus were not to adopt the single currency, the public messaging should never be so blunt as to reject the euro outright.”

With pro EU protesters due to gather on Tuesday for an anti-Brexit protest in Edinburgh Mr Salamone urged them to take note of the disconnect and rather than simply accepting anti-Brexit sentiments, press the Scottish Government for the details of its EU strategy.

“As protesters of Brexit gather and pronounce themselves in Scotland over the days ahead, perhaps they might reflect on the realities of the Great Scottish European Illusion. It was never inevitable for Scottish politics and society to become so disconnected from the EU,” said Salamone.

“The separation caused by Brexit is a regrettable fact to be faced. Scotland’s disconnect from the EU is the product of its own collective choices. Instead of simply accepting repeated pro-EU messages and ritualistic rejection of Brexit from Scottish political figures, perhaps those protesters might ask them some questions on Scotland’s EU relations.

“Why is Scotland’s political system so removed from what the EU actually does? Why does the Scottish Government have no substantive EU strategy? Why does Scotland have an EU alignment pledge but apparently not align much? Why do essential questions about potential Scottish EU membership remain unaddressed? Those questions and their answers are far more important to Scotland’s future relationship with the EU than restatements of the negatives of Brexit.”

Mr Salamone in part blamed the drift between Scotland and the EU on the alignment of the EU debate with that on Scottish independence.

He noted that had this connection not occurred, Scotland could have achieved greater cross party consensus to build relationships with the European parliament, the commission and the European Council.

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“It is seemingly now standard for opinions on the Scottish Government’s EU engagement to be governed by views on independence. Conflation between Scotland’s EU relations and its independence debate is regular by those on both sides of the divide,” he said.

“Such conflation should be inaccurate. However...the Scottish Government does little to dispel any impression that its EU work is driven by its goal of statehood. In reality, Scotland’s post-Brexit relationships with the EU institutions, the member states and others should be founded on a domestic political consensus rooted in the present constitution.

"It should be entirely normal for Scottish institutions to interact with European and international counterparts on matters within their competence.”

Mr Salamone also raised concerns that three years after Brexit, the Scottish Government had yet to publish its plan on how the country should relate to the EU within the current constitutional arrangement in the UK and that the longer the time passed the harder it would be to form close relations.

He wrote: “Three years after the UK formally left the EU, the Scottish Government has still yet to publish a realistic and actionable strategy outlining how Scotland should relate to the EU over the years ahead within the present constitution.

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“Its most recent (ostensibly strategic) document, the Global Affairs Framework, is collection of vague statements and worn platitudes. In other words, it is not a strategy – certainly not for how Scotland can confront the formidable challenges which it faces to undertaking successful EU engagement as one part of a non-EU European third country. As the years pass, the absence of suitable strategy damages Scotland’s prospects for its EU relations.”

External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson insisted much work was currently being done to strengthen relations between Scotland and its European neighbours.

"Three years on from Brexit, all of the evidence suggests it has been hugely damaging - to the economy, to EU relations, to the UK’s standing around the world," he said.

"We have repeatedly been clear that the best future for Scotland is as an independent country and EU member state, and part of the world’s biggest single market.

“We continue to engage with EU colleagues on a regular basis through a range of forums - whether through ministerial dialogue, EU – UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement meetings, the work of our overseas network in Brussels and other European capitals corresponding to initiatives such as the Conference on the Future of the Europe.

"Both Scotland and the EU share opportunities and challenges such as the transition to net zero, energy security, support for Ukraine and the global cost of living crisis – it is imperative we work closely with our European friends and partners to tackle these issues.

“However, this can never be an adequate substitute for EU membership. Scotland is and always has been a proud European nation and we are determined to continue to be an active and constructive participant on EU matters.”