EU should make Scotland ‘open offer’ of membership, letter urges

Colm Tóibín, Elena Ferrante and Sam Heughan among the 170-plus signatories

More than 170 writers, artists and intellectuals have called on European leaders to offer an independent Scotland a simple and attractive way to join the European Union. Their letter, which comes a week before Scottish parliamentary elections, says the people of Scotland should know that Europeans would welcome them back into the EU if that is their democratic wish.

“In the 2016 Brexit referendum, not a single Scottish district voted to leave and Scotland as a whole voted by a 62-38 per cent majority to remain in the EU,” it says. “In subsequent years, the Scottish parliament rejected the withdrawal process at every stage. Yet in 2020, Scotland was taken out of the European Union.”

Signatories include writers Elena Ferrante, Daniel Kehlmann and Carsten Jensen and actors Sam Heughan and Corinna Kirchhoff. Among the Irish signatories are Colm Tóibín and Fintan O'Toole.

With Scotland expected to elect a parliament with a majority favouring independence, the letter says the EU should recognise its special situation by making a generous “unilateral and open offer of membership” ahead of an independence referendum.


“Europeans must always stand for democracy and solidarity. So we call upon you to express our joint solidarity with the citizens of Scotland and to support Scotland’s democratic choice about its future,” it says.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times