AN independent Scotland would not have to join the euro and could get back into the European Union within two or three years of a Yes vote, according to the UK’s longest-serving parliamentarian in Brussels.

Labour MEP David Martin told journalists that negotiations could be swift as the new state would not have to wait until other countries which had already applied had joined.

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Asked about whether an independent Scotland would have to join the euro, Martin pointed to other member states who had not joined the euro – such as Sweden and replied: “We would be entitled not to join or given a long transitional period so that we might never have to join it if we didn’t want to join it.”

Officials in Brussels directed journalists to the Copenhagen criteria which are the rules that define whether a country is eligible to join the EU. They require that a state has the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, has a functioning market economy, and accepts the obligations and intent of the EU.

The currency that an independent Scotland would use was a key issue ahead of the 2014 referendum, with Chancellor George Osborne saying an independent Scotland could not use sterling, as Alex Salmond proposed, and might have to switch to the euro.

On the timescale for joining the EU, Martin suggested negotiations to would be easier if the application was made “not long after we left”.

“If Scotland became independent and applied and if it wasn’t that long after we left – given that we meet nearly all the conditions – the negotiations could be quick. But in EU parlance a quick negotiation is probably a minimum of 18 months still,” he said.

“It wouldn’t have to wait until Montenegro, Serbia, Albania etc were done but it would have to nevertheless go through the process of the negotiation and fulfil all the conditions.”

Martin said that on top of the 18 months of negotiation, it would take six to nine months to ratify the treaty, adding: “Fair wind, if everything went really quickly, you are talking a minimum of two years but it would probably realistically three.”

Asked if there is the will to allow an independent Scotland to join the EU, he said: “It’s not high on people’s agenda but it is talked about and there are people who would not previously have been sympathetic to the idea of an independent Scotland – colleagues of mine, non-British colleagues – who now talk about it openly and say to me ‘are you going to be an independent country, are you likely to join as a separate country?’

“I think there is a difference between now and the time of the Scottish referendum when we were seen to be leaving a member state and we were pulling ourselves out of the EU. This time round we are being forced out of the EU, which is how it is perceived here. They know that Scotland voted to remain and I think they would be very sympathetic, if Scotland came back and said, ‘Scotland became independent and it wants to join the EU’, it would be welcome.”

However, Martin warned there would be no preferential treatment on the common fisheries policy and Scotland would not get a rebate or any special terms.

To join the euro a country’s budget deficit – the gap between spending and income – should be under 3%. The latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) data shows that for 2017-18 Scotland’s notional deficit was 7.9%.

Martin’s comments undermine remarks made by some commentators that by not joining the euro, Scotland wouldn’t be allowed back into in the EU.

After the 2014 defeat for the Yes side, some in the independence campaign regarded the currency issue as a weakness, prompting Nicola Sturgeon to set up the SNP’s Growth Commission to look again at the economic case for independence.

It recommended an independent Scotland would keep the pound for at least 10 years and then move towards introducing its own currency if six economic tests were met.

But unlike the 2014 plan, it recommended that an independent Scotland could keep the pound without a formal currency union between Scotland and the UK.

A SNP spokeswoman said: “Brexit means there is now a much more positive view of an independent Scotland among our European friends and neighbours ... Scotland has been part of the EU for 45 years, meaning we already meet the rules, so we would be very well prepared to join as an independent nation.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman said Martin’s remarks did not reflect Scottish Labour policy.

He added: “If Brexit has made one thing clear, it is that there are severe challenges in leaving a political and economic union. All of the challenges we see with leaving the EU would be repeated on a much larger scale with leaving the UK.

“As the SNP’s own cuts commission made clear, leaving the UK would mean turbo-charged austerity for Scotland, and the concept of a separate Scottish state attempting to join the EU after Brexit would create huge problems for cross-border trade, jobs and business. Scotland’s trade with the UK is four times more valuable than our trade with Europe.”