THE time to make the case for an independent Scotland back in the EU is now, with the recent independence white paper offering a “serious, sustained case” for rejoining, a European expert has said.

Writer and commentator Kirsty Hughes, who was previously founder and director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said the Scottish Government paper on rejoining the EU was also likely to impress an EU audience.

However she argued more work to promote it had to be done to ensure it does not “disappear” – particularly as unionists appear to be using the tactic of not engaging with the “substantive” debate on independence issues.

Hughes told the Sunday National: “I think it is probably the best paper – it is really sustained serious argument.

“Frankly if you’re main aim was to impress the EU audience then I think it works.”

READ MORE: Talk of Scotland joining EU builds after independence paper launched

She added: “If you are trying to show the EU that you can make a case for being in the EU, for why Scotland could bring things, for why independence is an issue, for why constitutional stuff is unfair and so on then it is very good.

“But presumably the target audience is closer to home in Scotland and then the rest of the UK - and I think it is very good for that too.

“When there was much more debate three years ago,  it all focused down onto deficit, border and how slow the process [of rejoining] might be.”

The latest part of the Building a New Scotland series, published earlier this month, highlights the benefits of EU membership and outlines what Scotland could contribute to the bloc as an independent member state.

Writing in a Europe and Scotland newsletter which is published on Substack, Hughes (below) said the issue of the EU is a core part of the case for independence and has the potential to sway undecided and soft no voters.

The National:

She said there was “serious substantive” analysis in the paper – but there was a question over whether it could break through the “current doldrums” of the independence debate.

To help preventing it “falling into a vacuum”, she suggested there would have to be speeches, articles, soundbites, clear accessible summaries on key issues.

READ MORE: Key points from the independence paper on Scotland rejoining the EU

“There would need to be real engagement by the SNP’s politicians both at Holyrood and Westminster,” she said.

“And fine if some want to argue over whether there should be a referendum on joining the EU after accession talks are done (that would be usual) or even before talks start (not usual), or if some want to argue why being a rule-taker in the EEA is preferable.

“The overarching need is to get back the momentum of a few years ago on the goal of being back in the EU.”

She also said the unionist side seems to have decided not to engage with “substantive issues” in favour of dismissing any arguments on independence as irrelevant in a cost of living crisis.

But she said this made it more vital for a “strong communications strategy” to get the arguments out there.

She concluded: “If the goal is independence in the EU, then the time to make that case is now.”