Under the current devolution settlement EU policy is reserved to the UK, and to devolved administrations when devolved competences are implicated by EU law. There are specific inter-governmental procedures set out in a Memorandum of Understanding and a Concordat which includes:
- The provision of information
- Formation of a UK line
- Attendance at Council
- Implementing EU obligations and
- Infraction proceedings.
There is an aim to have a single UK negotiating line in respect to Europe, however a leaked memo in 2006 implied that Scotland's EU voice was not being heard sufficiently loudly in either London or Brussels, and there are questions about whether the current set-up properly protect Scotland's EU related interests.
One ongoing dispute has been in relation to Scotland's fisheries interests, as Scotland has over 70 per cent of the UK's fishing industry, the SNP have in the past called for Scotland to be able to lead negotiations at an EU level.
Obviously with either enhanced devolution or independence the relationship Scotland holds with the EU would also fundamentally change. European experts have stated that more joined up thinking is needed, and that current structures do not adequately fit, mirroring others criticism that devolution has been approached in a "patchwork" way. It is thought that a new accord would have to be reached with the UK government specifically if the following areas gained more devolved power:
- Direct taxation
- Financial services
- Employment law
- Health and safety
- Climate change
- Competition policy
- Consumer protection and
- Any other areas where EU regulation is already extensive or growing.
Scotland's relationship with the EU would have to be further negotiated if the idea of independence came to fruition. It is unlikely that Scotland would have immediate membership of the EU, although it would not be obstructed or have to take a "back of the queue" place behind other countries wishing to gain membership such as Turkey.
Any separation from the UK Government would have to be "velvet" with them willing to champion Scotland's membership. It is thought that Scotland could expect to have a normal level of representation within the EU for a country its size, and this would come out of any UK representation.