Sturgeon wants backing in negotiations with EU

NICOLA Sturgeon has called on opposition parties to support negotiations for Scotland to remain in the European Union if the referendum vote is a yes.

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The question of whether Scotland would remain in the EU has been debated with the SNP claiming Scotland is and will still be a member, while the EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it would need to re-apply as a new state.

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland would, after 2014, still be in the UK until 2016 and as a result still be a member of the EU.

She also said in that time negotiations for continued membership would take place.

Opposition parties claimed the Scottish Government has down-graded its position from automatic membership to an intention to be a member.

Ms Sturgeon said she was confident the rest of the EU would want Scotland to continue in the union as Scotland would be the biggest oil producer and would have fishing and renewable energy resources and an education system that others would want to have access to.

She said: "It is simply not credible to argue that other members of the EU would not want to retain access to the array of resources and opportunities Scotland brings to the EU table."

Mr Barroso's comments prompted opposition leaders to claim it was not certain Scotland would remain in the EU and would need to apply, could be forced to join the Euro and lose opt-outs and budget rebates that the UK has.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "The average Scottish household benefits by almost £150 a year as a direct result of the UK rebate from the EU. The SNP have now put this at risk."

Ms Sturgeon added: "The European Commission is not the final arbiter of these matters. Following a 'yes' vote in 2014, a process of negotiat-ion will take place with the UK government on the transfer of powers to an independent Scottish Parliament.

"In parallel to negotiations with the UK government, it would be our intention to nego-tiate the terms of an indepen-dent Scotland's continuing membership of the EU."

Labour constitution spokes-woman Patricia Ferguson said: "In 2007 the Deputy First Minister said Scotland would automatically be a member of the EU. In 2012 the First Minister said there needs to be negotiation. Now it is a vague intention."

stewart.paterson@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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