Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Thursday, 13 December 2012

Ministerial Statement: Scotland and the EU

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended the Scottish government's belief that an independent Scotland would remain within the European Union, during a ministerial statement on 13 December 2012.

The statement followed remarks by the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, that he believed any newly independent state would have to reapply for EU membership.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government would negotiate the terms of EU membership between a Yes vote in 2014 and the onset of independence in 2016.

She said: "The European Commission, however important, is not the final arbiter of these matters.

"Mr Barroso's statements do not constitute a 'ruling', as some have suggested."

"Nor does the Commission even claim to be specifically addressing the particular situation of Scotland."

Ms Sturgeon added: "Scotland's vast assets - fishing, oil and gas, renewables; our value as an export market to other member states; our education system enjoyed by thousands of EU students every year; and our status as home to tens of thousands of EU citizens, mean that the economic, social and political interests of the EU would be best served by Scotland remaining in continuous membership".

The opposition parties attacked Ms Sturgeon's statement with Labour's Patricia Ferguson saying the SNP view that Scotland would continue within the EU was 'mere assertion' and asked what discussions she had had with the 27 countries in the EU.

Former Conservative leader Annabel Goldie described the statement as 'risible' and 'a triumph of optimism over hard facts'.

The Liberal Democrat leader dismissed Ms Sturgeon's approach as 'starry-eyed'.

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