THE European Commission has dramatically raised the possibility of Scotland rejoining the EU at a future date.

In a message to people posted on Twitter yesterday officials at its office in Edinburgh hinted that the nation may not be out of the bloc for good once it leaves with the rest of the UK at the end of January.

“Scotland has not only benefitted from EU membership over these last 44 years but it has actually been Scottish men and women who have played an incredible role in shaping the European Union, we know today,” wrote the European Commission in Scotland.

“By anyone’s estimation a significant part played by what is after all a small country on the European stage. For the time being Scotland’s EU journey is coming to an end. For the future, who knows?”

READ MORE: Could an independent Scotland join the EU after Brexit?

In a series of tweets the commission pointed out that it would soon be closing its office in Edinburgh after 44 years and underlined the role its staff had played over the years liaising between Scotland and the other EU nations.

“So the end is nigh and it won’t be long before the EU flag is taken down for the last time and the door of the EC Representation in Scotland will finally close, marking an end to the presence of the European Commission in Scotland that has stretched over 44 years,” it said.

“Throughout our small Representation in Scotland has played its part in providing a bridge between the people of Scotland and the institutions of the EU.”

It added: “For all of us based over the years in Scotland, it has been an enormous privilege to help forge and boost these links not only with the EU institutions but in helping to develop ties and relationships right across the 27 EU Member States too.”

Alyn Smith, the new SNP MP for Stirling and a former MEP, last night welcomed the intervention from the European Commission Scotland.

The National:

He said: “Our friends in the European Commission in the Edinburgh office have worked hard to protect and promote our European status and care passionately about what they do. I am very sad to see the office close.

“But they as well as the head office in Brussels acknowledge that Scotland is a European nation and the UK Conservatives have a majority – I acknowledge that – Scotland’s story has not ended. We are a European nation and we will be heard.”

The UK is on course to leave the EU on January 31 following MPs voting in favour of the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill last week. It passed its second reading on Friday and with Boris Johnson’s Tories commanding a Commons majority, it is expected to complete its parliamentary journey shortly after the Christmas recess.

Once the UK leaves the EU at the end of January it will then enter a transition phase where it will abide by EU rules while talks take place between the two sides on the future trading relationship. Johnson amended the EU Withdrawal Bill last week to ensure the transition period could not be extended beyond December next year.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the move increases the chances of the UK leaving the EU without a deal as trade talks are likely to take longer than 11 months. The First Minister wants to hold an independence referendum in the second half of next year and has written to the PM to get the powers to enable Holyrood to do so.