AN independent Scotland becoming a new member of the European Union could be the silver lining of the Brexit cloud for the bloc, according to the head of a leading Brussels think tank.

Fabian Zuleeg, the chief executive of the European Policy Centre, also argued the new independent state would have an “upside” for Europe and become a “champion” of the EU project to the rest of the world.

In an article, The EU’s Scottish Question, published yesterday, he listed the benefits an independent Scotland could bring to the EU, including acting as an advocate for freedom of movement, contributing to the bloc’s budget and through its research and education sector.

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He also cited the potential an independent Scotland could have in “acting as a bridge between the EU27 and the UK” and could help “ease the integration of Northern Ireland”.

He stated: “As a member state, Scotland would bring a range of assets into the EU, including in the area of resources and energy, in the battle against climate change, a highly developed research/education/HE sector, with a positive acceptance of freedom of movement in this field and beyond, and a positive global role and image. Being a net payer into the budget will also help.”

Zuleeg, who is also a member of the First Minister’s Standing Council on Europe, went on to say the adoption of Scotland as a member could present the EU in a good light, while reminding existing members of the “high cost” of the UK leaving the bloc.

“Having a positive, enthusiastic European partner that shows such determination to remain an EU member would reflect positively on the EU,” he said.

“It would also show other secessionists that being outside the EU was not even considered as a feasible path, shoring up stability and highlighting the benefits of EU membership. It would also make it clear that leaving the European Union can come at a high cost, even including the territorial integrity of one’s own country.”

However, Zuleeg warned an independent Scotland must not become “an awkward partner” and should not set out to negotiate opt outs from key policies as the UK had done.

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“Preventing Scotland from being the successor to the UK would ensure that current special provisions for the UK would not automatically apply to Scotland. In case of Scottish accession, there would be no special treatment,” he said.

“Membership would come with all the obligations of a ‘regular’ EU country. That would entail committing to joining the euro once the conditions are fulfilled (although in practice this might take a long time), creating the necessary independent institutions ... in effect, accepting the [policies] fully across the vast majority of policy areas.”

He added: “For the EU, gaining a pro-European, constructive and committed member state out of the negative Brexit experience could well be seen as major upside. That is, if Scotland can demonstrate its intention to be a reliable pro-European partner; the last thing the EU would want is to replace one awkward partner with another.”