Independent Scotland would need to apply for EU, says Danish minister

Copenhagen criteria must be met if country passes referendum, says Lidegaard

Scotland will have to reapply for membership for membership of the European Union if it votes for independence in September's referendum, Danish foreign minister Martin Lidegaard has said.

Saying that there are “quite strict rules”, Mr Lidegaard said Scotland would have to pass the so-called Copenhagen criteria on its own merits before it could be considered for membership of the union by existing member states.

The Copenhagen rules required candidates to show the existence of stable political institutions, a functioning legal system and market economy along with the ability to take on the obligations of membership, including political, economic and monetary union.

Mr Lidegaard is correct that Scotland would formally have to pass such tests as a new candidate, rather than as a member state trying to renegotiate its membership under Article 49 of the European Union treaties, as the Scottish National Party has argued, even if Scotland would have no difficulty passing the tests.

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy is News Editor of the The Irish Times