SCOTLAND has two possible options to remain part of the European Union post-Brexit, according to a leading academic.

But “significant amendment” of the constitutional frameworks of both the UK and EU would be “almost unavoidable”.

Dr Nikos Skoutaris, a lecturer in EU law at the University of East Anglia, said the first involves Scotland becoming independent and the reunification of Ireland, while the second explores the possibility of both remaining in the EU without splitting from the UK.

In his newly published paper, Skoutaris focuses on the case of Cyprus to illustrate how the EU has accommodated the other “divided island” in its club. He admits that while the post-Brexit situation here bears no resemblance to the conditions that led to the Cyprus issue, the legal arrangements that were used to provide for it could offer inspiration should Scotland and Northern Ireland decide to remain in the EU without leaving the UK.

The Republic of Cyprus (RoC) became an EU member state in 2003, even though Turkey controls the northern part of the island. This was done through a suspension of the acquis, the common rights and obligations that are binding on all member states.

“Article 2 of the Protocol [of Accession] allows the council to define the terms under which the provisions of EU law apply to the ‘Green Line’ – the de facto territorial border between northern Cyprus, where EU law is suspended, and the government-controlled areas where EU law applies,” says Skoutaris.

“This provision provided the legal basis for the adoption of the Green Line Regulation. For the purposes of our research, this is an interesting piece of legislation because it regulates the free crossing of people and goods between an area of a member state where the free movement acquis applies and is within the customs union and one where the free movement acquis does not apply and is outside the customs union.

“In order to deal with the situation in Cyprus, where free movement of people is suspended only in part of its territory, the Council unanimously agreed on the Green Line Regulation.”

Under this legislative device, the RoC must carry out checks on everyone crossing the Green Line to combat illegal immigration and any threat to public security.

“If a similar measure were to be applied in the territorial border between England and Scotland, it would be the Scottish authorities that would have to police this ‘EU border’,” he adds.

More challenging for the EU, says Skoutaris, was finding a way to normalise EU trade relations with northern Cyprus, but it was managed by striking an “agreement” through third parties that allowed goods from the north – whose government is unrecognised – to pass freely to the south and the EU market.

The academic says the independence pathway is also fraught with difficulties, and “while Northern Ireland enjoys such a constitutional right, Scotland has to reach a similar arrangement such as the one that led to the organisation of the 2014 independence referendum”.

He adds: “For the UK Government, the biggest incentive to offer such a solution to Scotland and Northern Ireland would be that it represents a tangible alternative to secession. The United Kingdom might become almost a confederation but it will still be one recognised state under international law. In other words, it could save the Union, which at the moment seems to be in grave danger.

“On the other hand, the devolved administrations could inherit at least some of the privileges of the UK’s EU membership such as keeping sterling. They could also avoid the tensions and divisions that could be caused because of their secession.”