Scotland first minister has warned that a dozen of European countries could be barred from Scottish waters if an independent Scotland is refused European Union membership.
In his speech at the College of Europe in Bruges on Monday, Alex Salmond said the EU states must agree to Scotland’s continuing membership in case of a “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum or face being banned from fishing in Scottish waters.
Salmond called for a “practical and common-sense approach” to ensure that Scotland could join the European Union within an 18-month timescale after leaving the UK.
He also dismissed as “absurd” the notion that Scotland would need to re-apply to join the EU.
“The alternative – the fishing fleets of 12 countries being denied any access to Scottish waters and, as a consequence, their access to Norwegian waters, which is also dependent on Scottish access – is clearly absurd,” he added.
Salmond said his country’s contribution to the EU was “constrained” by being part of the UK and that its interests in areas such as fishing are not properly represented.
“Europhobia at Westminster now poses a real threat to Scotland’s place in Europe,” Salmond said, adding that a separate Scotland would be “an enthusiastic, engaged and committed contributor to European progress”.
The Scottish first minister also used his speech to call for a series of EU reforms to help tackle inequality and prioritize green energy.
The independence referendum, due to be held on September 18, could result in Scotland’s break-up from the UK after more than 300 years of political union.