PROSEPCTIVE MEPs are being called upon to make official statements in support of Scotland joining the EU in the run-up to the European Parliament election.

Europe for Scotland (EfS), a grassroots initiative that works to support Scotland post-Brexit, has launched a campaign on Europe Day called Speak Up For Scotland which will ask those seeking election to pledge that they will work to ensure any EU application from an independent Scotland is welcomed.

The European election – taking place between June 6 and 9 – will be the first in which Scots will not be able to vote despite the vast majority of the nation opting to Remain in the EU referendum of 2016.

Current and budding MEPs are being asked to put their name to one of four statements which vary in their level of commitment to Scotland.

The highest tier will see candidates state: “I pledge to work in the next European Parliament to ensure that any application from Scotland to rejoin the EU as an independent country is welcomed with a spirit of friendship and solidarity. I support the Scottish people’s democratic will to be part of the EU, and believe they can help us build a better Europe.”

At the other end of the spectrum, candidates are simply invited to express their sympathy with Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will, stating: “I wish to express my solidarity with all UK citizens who were deprived of a vote in this election by Brexit, a choice the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland rejected with clear majorities in the 2016 referendum on the UK membership of the EU.”

Sarah De Sanctis (below), an activist for EfS, has been working on the continent to rally a network of campaigners across 15 countries who will reach out to candidates and attend political events to find out where they stand on Scotland.

She told The National that many Europeans still feel strongly about Brexit and Scotland joining would be a sign of “renewed strength” in the institution.

“A lot of Europeans are still upset about Brexit and helping Scotland rejoin the EU would be a middle finger to the Brexiteers,” she said.

“It would be a sign of renewed strength and cohesion in Europe.

The National:

“Then there’s the issue of the general democratic injustice which is something Europe should stand against because Scotland is a nation that is being held captive.

“There is also the issue of enlargement going on, so it’s a good opportunity to bring up the question of Scotland which isn’t necessarily at the front of consciousness now with the issues of Ukraine and Gaza, but there are accession talks with countries which until not long ago would not have been considered.

“Scotland is already much closer in terms of alignment with EU values.”

The initiative comes on the back of around 5000 people signing an EfS petition calling for Scotland to remain part of the conversation around enlargement

No country has joined the EU since Croatia in 2013 but the likes of Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina are looking to join.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said enlargement is a “common interest” last year as she told the EU Parliament that “there’s a sense of urgency to unite our European family”.

Andrea Pisauro (below), one of two co-directors at EfS, said Scotland is key to ensuring the democracy of Europe is bolstered.

He also believes there should still be a special arrangement made for Scotland as was the case for Remain-voting Northern Ireland with the Windsor Framework – which requires the nation to align with EU law in some areas, preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.

He said: “For us, it’s a way to change Europe in the right direction. Europe is rethinking itself and there is this process of enlargement in a moment of big crisis for the world.

“There are discussions on how to maintain a sense of democracy across Europe in which Putin is trampling European democracy in several ways. Scotland has a solid democratic system and a rich, democratic culture and this is important to build a stronger, democratic culture in Europe.

The National:

“Europe also cannot just think about enlarging to the east, it needs to think about the north too and we want to maintain the geographical balance.

“It is important Europe doesn’t forget Scotland.”

Pisauro added that there is still an argument Scotland should be fast-tracked back into the EU if it voted to join.

“If you think of Northern Ireland, there was a special deal offered by the EU and it was considered in the Brexit negotiations. We argue Scotland should have a similar deal,” he said.

“It makes a difference if a country has been in the single market and the EU for many decades and there has never been a country that has left before rejoining, so there is space to argue there is scope for having a fast-track process.”

De Sanctis said she also hopes the Stand Up For Scotland campaign can put paid to any suggestion that Scotland would struggle to join the EU following independence.

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Asked if she wanted to combat this idea, she said: “Absolutely. Even over the last few years several people have come out and spoken out against this [the idea Scotland could not join the EU].

“There is the myth of the Spanish veto which isn’t true but persists. Scotland would absolutely be able to rejoin if it wanted to.

“I went on a tour two years ago when I was taking a Euro-Scottish flag around Europe and I was stopping people asking them if they wanted to take a photo with me and show their support, and a lot of them didn’t know Scotland voted against Brexit.

“When I explained, everyone was always sympathetic.”

The "myth" referred to relates to reports that Spain would prevent an independent Scotland from joining the EU so as not to encourage Catalan or Basque independence, but this has repeatedly been denied by Spanish ministers on the right and left. 

The names of MEPs who sign up to the various statements will be published here.

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