SNP MSP Angus Robertson has called for an independent Scotland to gain access to the European Union, citing skill-sharing over renewable energy methods and scientific collaboration.
External affairs secretary Mr Robertson said EU membership would provide Scottish businesses with opportunities for economic growth, and could help Europe achieve energy security using renewables.
He said becoming an EU member state with direct representation for the first time would provide opportunities for Scotland’s economy to grow, with “quicker and cheaper” trading.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the seventh Building a New Scotland paper – An independent Scotland in the EU, Mr Robertson said membership would involve “reduced barriers to trade” and less bureaucracy.
He cited open access to a larger labour market with no restrictions, benefitting businesses, universities, communities and public services, as well as the EU’s network of international free trade agreements.
As well as the opportunity to influence future EU regulatory requirements and standards, Mr Robertson said Scotland would benefit from easier research collaboration in areas such as animal and veterinary science, fisheries and the environment, and clean energy.
The SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central said it would be beneficial to have “a level playing field to access the EU’s digital economy”, including through Scotland’s expertise in games and software development, artificial intelligence (AI), data science and connectivity.
Mr Robertson said: “Independence is the only realistic route for Scottish firms to regain the benefits of EU membership like open access to the world’s largest single market and free movement of goods, services, capital and people.
“Becoming an EU member state with direct representation for the first time in our own right would provide opportunities for our economy to grow.
“It would mean quicker and cheaper trading with no tariffs or duties for goods, and significantly lower levels of non-tariff barriers in comparison to the current EU trade deal negotiated by the UK Government.
“With our strengths in research and renewables like hydrogen and off-shore wind, Scotland also has the capacity to help the EU achieve energy security through clean energy technologies.
“Our continued regulatory alignment means that Scotland is ideally placed to join the EU as an independent member state and I look forward to setting out our proposals for how this could work tomorrow.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “People in Scotland want both their Governments to be concentrating on the issues that matter most to them, like growing our economy, halving inflation and improving public services.
“We want to work constructively with the Scottish Government to tackle our shared challenges because that is what families and businesses in Scotland expect.
“This is not the time to be talking about distracting constitutional change.”