Humza Yousaf has signalled an independent Scotland would be willing to sign up to adopting the Euro in principle to secure membership of the European Union.

As part of efforts to make allies on the continent and take a realistic stance on the process, he said Scotland would go through a "normal accession route" and "accept the principles of accession", which include agreeing to adopt the Euro in future. 

However, speaking to a thinktank in Brussels earlier this week, the First Minister indicated Scotland would not necessarily use the shared currency in practice.

The SNP’s existing policy is to keep using the pound in the early years of independence before moving to a new Scottish currency as soon as practicable.         

Although agreeing to adopt the Euro in theory is a pre-condition of EU membership, in practice countries can choose to avoid it by not meeting certain specific criteria.

It is understood Mr Yousaf remains opposed to using the Euro, but accepts Scotland may need to agree to using it in principle to smooth the path to EU membership.

However even a nod-and-a-wink commitment to adopt the Euro could be seized on by his Unionist opponents to claim there is confusion over independence currency plans.  

It could also spook Nationalists intent on having a Scottish pound.

The Scottish Tories last night attacked his "navel-gazing" amid the cost-of-living crisis.

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Between meetings with EU diplomats this week, Mr Yousaf also told the European Policy Centre (EPC) that there would be “light touch customs checks” at the border with a post-Brexit England if Scotland was back in the EU.

And he acknowledged the SNP’s pledge to remove nuclear weapons from the Faslane naval base would require multi-lateral negotiations with the UK, the US and Nato.

He revealed the Scottish Government plans to publish another instalment of its independent prospectus “Building a New Scotland” on Europe in the autumn.

There will be one on citizenship in a few weeks, and another later on security and defence, which he said would be “incredibly important”.

Mr Yousaf’s predecessor Nicola Sturgeon published a related paper on the economy last October which said Scotland should re-join the EU to benefit from the single market.

But at the same time she said using the Euro was “not the right option for Scotland”. 

That led to four EU sources telling the Times that and Scottish application to join the EU would be dismissed without a pledge to join the Euro.

Under the EU’s accession rules, all member states are obliged “in principle” to introduce the Euro once they meet the legal and economic conditions for joining it.

Only Denmark has an explicit opt-out. 

But countries can avoid adopting it by deliberately failing to meet the criteria, which include two years tying their currency to the Euro in an exchange rate mechanism. 

In a Q&A after a speech to the EPC on Tuesday, Mr Yousaf was asked about an independent Scotland using the Euro, and made it clear that, although there would be a negotiation, he was ready to accept the same principles as all other applicant states.

There are currently eight countries in the process of joining the 27-member political and economic bloc.

Mr Yousaf said: “In terms of future accession to the European Union, we will go through the normal accession route in terms of Article 49 [of the Treaty on European Union]. 

“With every accession process, a discussion and a negotiation [takes place]. 

“We will accept the principles of accession. 

“And what I would say of course, much like [former European Commission President] Jean-Claude Juncker said in his time [is] that no country is ever forced to adopt the Euro. And I think that’s an important point of principle.”

Scottish Government sources later confirmed the remarks were intended to show a pragmatic approach to EU membership, in contrast to the UK's anatgonism.

The Herald:

Scottish voters supported remaining in the EU by 62% to 38% in the 2016 referendum, but the UK as a whole voted 52-48 in favour of Brexit.

Mr Yousaf also addressed the “thorny issue” of Scotland being in the EU if England was out, which would make the Scotland-England border an external EU border. 

He said: “When it comes to the movement of people, we’ll be part of a Common Travel Area, much like the Republic of Ireland, there's no issue there. 

“But yes, on goods, there will have to be some light touch custom check. 

“We've got to be upfront about that.

"And we would, of course, negotiate with the UK Government to try to make that as light touch [as possible], and of course with the EU, given that is who we will be a member state of. We will have to make sure that is acceptable.

“But also be upfront that the EU is a market that is seven times the size of the UK.”

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Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: “Scots who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis will have no interest in Humza Yousaf’s navel-gazing in relation to the Euro.

“It appears he’s had to accept reality and rip up Nicola Sturgeon’s economic paper to further his independence obsession.

“Humza Yousaf is totally distracted trying to break up the United Kingdom by any means possible, rather than focusing on Scotland’s real priorities such as supporting people with rising bills and fixing our NHS.”

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “The First Minister was flagging the reality that EU accession will be a process of negotiation. No one credibly anticipates Scotland being forced to use the Euro. Equally, the whole point of accession to the EU is that you willingly and wholeheartedly share the central tenets of membership.

“Those central tenets of freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, promoting peace and stability, are familiar and welcome from the decades of membership that Scotland benefitted from. They sit very comfortably with the vision of Scotland as an independent European nation and FM was keen to signal our continued commitment to them now.

“What is clear from the FM’s visit to Brussels, is that it is widely accepted that the EU will be keen to see Scotland return to the European fold.”