ONE of the reasons for this column is to show how countries with a similar or smaller population than Scotland’s can not only survive but thrive as an independent nation whether or not they join the European Union.

Last week, Finland, which has a similar size of population to Scotland, marked 25 years of being part of the EU.

On January 1, 1995, Finland, Austria and Sweden became the 13th, 14th and 15th countries to join. They were the first three to do so after the collapse of the Soviet Union and all of them joined after referendums.

Finland’s advisory referendum was held on October 16, 1994, and, on a turnout of 70.9%, some 56.8% of people voted in favour of joining.

Heidi Hautala, a vice-president of the European Parliament and a member of the Finnish Greens, told website that when the EU gets its act together, “its influence reaches far beyond its own borders”.

She added: “Protection of privacy and leadership in the protection of the environment demonstrate this.

“Now the bloc must come up with a model for the sustainable economy – Finland can play its full part in this planet-saving task.”

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According to a poll by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum, the popularity of EU membership in Finland has reached a record high, with 56% holding a positive view and only 13% against.

Roger Casale, secretary general and chief executive of New Europeans said: “None of this remarkable achievement of 25 years EU membership has happened by chance and Brexit teaches us that we should take nothing for granted going forwards.”

Some Finns took to social media to mark the anniversary. Tapani Saraninen tweeted: “Finland as part of European Union is one of the best decisions in Finland’s history. For the next 25+ years of development and progress.”