A NEW European hub is to be set up by ministers in the coming weeks as they step up the indyref2 campaign with a key goal to take an independent Scotland into the European Union.

It will open in Copenhagen this spring ahead of the council elections in May when the SNP will be ramping up the constitutional debate and highlighting the crisis surrounding Boris Johnson and partygate.

Europe analyst Anthony Salamone said the office in the Danish capital “was sensible” and would help the Scottish Government forge closer relations in Denmark and the Nordic region.

The National: Anthony SalamoneAnthony Salamone

Like Scotland, Denmark and its capital have been severely hit by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, but infections are now beginning to subside in both countries.

The improving situation has meant that the overseas Scottish Government office is opening as scheduled.

The Scottish Government have four bases in the EU with offices in Brussels, Paris, Dublin and Berlin.

Like those in the Irish, German and French capitals, the Copenhagen headquarters will be based inside the cities’ British Embassy.

“Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, and in particular the impact of the Omicron variant in both Scotland and Denmark, the new Scottish Government Office in Copenhagen is on schedule to open this spring,” a Scottish Government spokesman told the Sunday National.

“It will be based within the British Embassy Copenhagen, in a similar arrangement to our offices in Paris, Dublin and Berlin.

“The Scottish Government hopes to appoint the new head of office in the coming weeks to lead this expansion of Scotland’s international network into the Nordic regions.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to give an update on a second independence referendum in the coming weeks.

She said last month, she would set the legislative timetable for a second independence referendum in “the coming weeks” and that she was “determined” to give people a choice over their future as the Omicron Covid wave receded.

“The key thing is that we will take these steps in a timescale that will facilitate that referendum before the end of 2023, which was the commitment I made at the election, and was elected on overwhelmingly,” she told the BBC’s Sunday Morning Show.

Salamone said the Scottish Government’s decision to open an office in Copenhagen made strategic sense.

“The Scottish Government’s decision to open a representative office in Copenhagen is sensible, given the importance of Scotland’s political, economic and social connections with the Nordic region,” he said.

“The Copenhagen office will have around three staff members and be responsible for multiple countries across a significant geographical area. As a result, it will have to prioritise its work extensively.”

He added: “There would be fundamental differences between the current Scottish Government offices and the diplomatic network of an independent Scotland.

“At present, most Scottish Government offices are small, located inside British embassies and staffed from the general civil service. If Scotland were an independent state, it would develop a full diplomatic network, including multiple large missions, with a distinct foreign service.

“It would not be logical or advisable for an independent Scotland to situate its embassies within embassies of the residual UK.

“The purpose of the Scottish Government’s representative offices is to further practical and mutually-beneficial connections between Scotland and other countries – not to export Scotland’s independence debate to them.

“The opening of the Copenhagen office will have no bearing on how EU member states view the independence debate. The EU institutions and member states continue to have no desire to become involved in Scotland’s internal affairs.

“The Scottish Government would be wise to ensure that its engagement with the EU, including through its offices, is kept entirely separate from the constitutional debate.”

The aim of Scotland joining the EU is expected to be central to the Yes side in indyref2. Scotland voted 62% to remain in the EU with some voters rethinking their support for the Union following the 2016 referendum and Brexit.

Last week the UK Government published a paper on the “The Benefits of Brexit” to mark the second anniversary of leaving the bloc. It was seized on by Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson who said “there is a profound absence of Brexit benefits, whereas the dis-benefits are all too evident”.

He added: “The paper boasts of securing trading deals – but even the UK Government’s own research shows there is little or no economic benefit from the new agreements that have actually been signed.

“The paper boasts of a ‘highly resilient food supply chains’ – with no acknowledgement of the significant labour shortages being experienced across the sector, especially in rural Scotland.”