Correspondence regarding Scotland being granted EU membership: FOI review

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/00543 Review
Date received: 18 March 2018
Date responded: 16 April 2018

Information requested

Further to my response of 20 March 2018, I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for: 'documents that the former First Minister Alex Salmond received and sent to/from the EU that if Scotland got Independence we as an Independent Nation would be granted membership of the EU.'


I have concluded that a different decision should be substituted.

In conducting my review I have considered the case afresh, taking into account the points raised in your request for a review. I have concluded that contrary to our initial response, the Government will not apply section 18 of FOISA in this case to refuse to confirm whether or not information is held. Having completed a further search of our records, I am satisfied that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

This is accordingly a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because we do not hold written documentation between the former First Minister and the EU in regard to the EU membership of an independent Scotland.

I can also, though not covered by your FOI request, provide some further information. The Scottish Government paper 'Scotland in the European Union' is accessible at: Published in 2013, it states on page 80:

"The European Commission has made clear it is prepared to provide detailed advice on the prospective transition process to enable an independent Scotland to assume full EU membership on submission of a request by the UK Government. This position was restated in a letter dated 22 January 2013 from Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission to Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. To date the UK Government has declined to approach the European Commission in these terms. This lack of cooperation is regrettable."

This extract makes reference to an October 2012 letter from then-European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Lord Tugendhat in his capacity as Acting Chair of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. That letter can be accessed at:'s_reply_to_Lord_Tugendhat_101212.pdf (accessed 4 April 2018).

It also makes reference to a letter dated 22 January 2013 from Maroš Šefčovič, then-Vice President of the European Commission to Scotland's then-Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. I have attached that letter at Annex A attached.

As the UK remained the Member State at the time, it was not open to the Scottish Government to request advice from the European Commission.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FoI - 18-00543 - Annex A.docx

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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