NICOLA Sturgeon says she is “more confident” than ever that the EU will welcome an independent Scotland “open arms”.

In an exclusive question and answer session with readers of The National in tomorrow's paper, the First Minister says “there is an extraordinary amount of goodwill toward Scotland across the EU”.

Responding to a query from Anne Smart, the SNP leader adds that: “As a member for the last 40 years as part of the UK, Scotland by definition meets the entry criteria.”

Scotland currently meets most EU criteria for membership. Writing in Prospect magazine recently, Dr Kirsty Hughes, from the Scottish Centre on European Relations, says the only difficulty could be around the currency.

She said: “Having a goal of joining the euro would be controversial. But the likely size of an independent Scotland’s budget would preclude it from joining the single currency for several years anyway.

“Less debated is the tricky fact that if Scotland did stick with the pound for several years after independence (as is SNP policy) it might not meet accession criteria on monetary policy—promoting price stability and treating its exchange rate with member states as a matter of common concern.”

In tomorrow's National, the First Minister also answers questions on independence, requesting a Section 30 order, SNP candidate selection and what she really thinks of Murdo Fraser.