After 62% of Scots voted to remain in the European Union the future of the United Kingdom is in doubt, with the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum being very much “on the table”. Yet Nicola sturgeon has made clear that she is willing to explore all options that would protect Scotland’s European future.
So what are these other options and how tenable would they be?
One possibility that has been suggested has been described as the ‘Reverse Greenland’ model. The Kingdom of Denmark is comprised of Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Greenland acceded to the European Union when Denmark joined in 1973. However Greenland left the EU in 1985 after a referendum but still maintained its constitutional relationship with Denmark and the Faroe Islands.
This could perhaps be applied to Scotland but in reverse; whereby the UK would still be part of the EU however the treaties would not apply to the nations that voted to leave.
Although Greenland would serve as a constitutional precedent, the implementation of this option would be a major hurdle for the UK and may ultimately offer little difference from an independent Scotland as an EU member.
Firstly, it would raise difficult constitutional questions. It would be unclear whose authority Scotland would be bound by if the EU passed legislation that is reserved to Westminster. It may be the case that parliament would have to mirror any EU legislation and apply it to Scotland or devolve more powers to Scotland.
Additionally if Scotland were to have access to the single market it would have to continue to allow free movement of people and as result an internal customs border would have to be setup.
The ‘Reverse Greenland’ option may prove to be too untidy and convoluted to be implemented successfully. However, with the untangling of the UK from the EU looking like an equally formidable challenge it may well be just as viable.
Ultimately, with Scotland voting to remain part of the UK and the EU in quick succession any option that would allow both to continue should be fully explored.