THE "reality" is that Scotland would never need to adopt the euro in order to join the EU – although it may have to indicate plans to do so, multiple experts on European law and politics have told The National.

It comes after the Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross claimed that “Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for separation are in tatters” amid reports that the EU requires prospective member states to sign up to adopting the euro.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon destroys claim Scotland MUST join the euro to get into the EU

Ross quoted an article from The Times at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, claiming that an independent Scotland would “be refused entry” to the EU if it would not adopt the euro.

However, multiple experts on the European Union, its politics and legal affairs have said that this is not truly the case – and expressed surprise that the story is even in the news.

Anand Menon – professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London and director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative

Professor Menon, who has written extensively on Brexit, Europe, and the EU’s expansion, said that an independent Scotland could put off joining the euro “forever” if it chose.

“I was slightly surprised that it got so much prominence, this story,” he told The National. “I don’t know if we were just short of news.

“The EU might say as part of the accession process, ‘you’re signing up to eventual euro membership once you’ve met the conditions’, but as Sweden shows, you can just say you haven’t met the conditions, forever.

“The Swedes don’t have an opt-out of the euro, but they’re not in it, and no-one’s putting any pressure on them to join it. The one thing that enlargement tells us about the EU is they’re very good at imposing conditions when you’re trying to join, but very bad at forcing member states to do anything they don’t want to do once they’re in.”

Menon added: “Whether or not you’re forced is not the point, the question is whether or not ultimately being a larger European Union in which the majority of members are Eurozone members, are you really going to feel comfortable being out?”

Paul James Cardwell – professor of law at King's College London and honorary fellow of the Europa Institute, Edinburgh

Professor Cardwell told The National that the legal position of the EU did not align with its actual position when it came to adopting the euro.

“The currency of the EU is the euro,” he said. “We know that, but we also know that not all of the member states adopt it.

“The question is whether Scotland would have to adopt it. The answer is all member states are supposed to, they have a legal obligation to work towards membership, so on that front yes. But in reality, that’s not something which is applied.

“Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Sweden, have not joined [the euro] and are not making great efforts to join and they’re not being told that they have to.

“The short answer is that in theory all member states have an obligation to work towards membership, but it’s not in anybody’s interests for that to be enforced.

“An independent Scotland would have to give commitments to eventually joining the euro, but in reality that is only likely to happen if the Scottish Government decided that it wanted to.”

Dr Kirsty Hughes – founder and former director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations

The National: Kirsty Hughes 1 SA :..Portraits for byline of Kirsty Hughes for The National....Picture by Stewart Attwood...All images © Stewart Attwood Photography 2018.  All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited

Dr Hughes said on Twitter that the story was "not new news", telling The National that the First Minister was “fully aware” that prospective EU members need to sign up to join the euro.

She went on: “An independent Scotland is highly unlikely to meet the criteria for joining the euro at the time it joined the EU so the issue is not an immediate one.”

However, Hughes said that the SNP would have to be careful about their messaging. While domestically it might be advantageous to rule out joining the euro, this may well “ruffle some feathers” in Brussels, she said.

READ MORE: Likes of Mel Gibson to blame for calls for Scottish independence, says Tory MP

The EU expert explained: “There is often a balance to be struck when talking about EU matters between what you want to say to your domestic audience and what you say to your European and Brussels audience.

“It's true that once in the EU, the procedures for joining the euro require the agreement of the member state – but that doesn't mean a permanent opt-out. Suggesting that an independent Scotland wouldn't be keen on joining the euro is not helpful and Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers will need to avoid getting the balance wrong on this in future.

“It would be good to see a more positive, pro-European debate in Scotland on joining the euro rapidly and making sure Scotland, like Ireland and Finland, is at the heart of the EU's core group.”

Anthony Salamone – managing director of political analysis firm European Merchants

The National: Anthony Salamone is Managing Director of European Merchants, a political analysis firm in Edinburgh

Salamone, who was quoted extensively in The Times piece cited by Ross at FMQs, also said it was important that the framing of the rejection of the euro from Scotland’s side was handled delicately.

An independent Scotland in Europe could put off adopting the euro “indefinitely, but not bluntly”, he said.

Salamone said that officials in Brussels do not look too kindly on “a la carte integration”, where prospective member states pick and choose which parts of the EU they’d like to be involved with.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon exposes Douglas Ross's flip-flopping in savage FMQs exchange

He said: “Hypothetically, even if Scotland didn’t want to join the euro, you’re not supposed to come out and say that. It’s a very important part of how European politics works. Frame it in a way like ‘in the fullness of time’, or ‘once we’re ready and happy to go on this journey’ and so on.

“It’s not helpful to say ‘the euro isn’t right for us’ before you’ve even applied to join the EU. That’s not a good way of framing things.”

He said the SNP had to avoid the mistakes made by the UK during the Brexit process in focusing on domestic audiences and thinking “that the EU can’t speak English”.

So could Scotland join the EU without adopting the euro? Or is it ‘no euro, no membership’?

All of the experts The National spoke to agreed: Not adopting the euro would not be a barrier to Scotland joining the EU. However, the Scottish Government may need to sign up to joining the euro on paper, even if it never intended to do so in practice.

While experts such as Menon and Salamone suggested that the adoption of the euro could be put off “indefinitely” or “forever”, Hughes argued that this is not equivalent to “a permanent opt-out”.

There was also the message that the SNP had to be careful to curtail their anti-euro rhetoric to the domestic audience and remember that Brussels can hear everything that’s said.

Menon further suggested that an independent Scotland in the EU may find itself wanting to join the euro in order to have a seat at the Eurozone decision-making table. This was a view also proposed by Hughes, who said Scotland may want to be “at the heart of the EU's core group”.