It’s unclear whether an independent Scotland could be forced to join the euro as an EU member

20 November 2019
What was claimed

An independent Scotland wouldn’t be forced to join the euro once it applied to rejoin the EU.

Our verdict

New member states are officially required to adopt the euro at some point unless they have negotiated specific opt-outs, but in practice it's unclear whether members would or could be forced to.

During last night’s ITV election interviews, First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was asked whether a hypothetically independent Scotland would be forced to join the euro once it negotiated EU membership as an independent state.

After the interviewer questioned whether “You’d be forced, somewhere down the road, to take the euro, wouldn’t you?” Ms Sturgeon answered “No we wouldn’t”.

Almost all EU member states, including all new members, are “required” to adopt the euro at some point. Only two EU members—the UK and Denmark—have opt-outs established by treaty which mean they’re not required to join. 

In practice though, it’s unclear whether members would or could be forced to do so against their will. Nicola Sturgeon cites the example of Sweden, which has been an EU member since 1995 but still doesn’t have the euro. 

Ms Sturgeon also cites European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker who said in 2017: “I don't intend to force countries to join the euro if they are not willing or not able to do so”.

Ultimately we don’t know what an independent Scotland would negotiate with the EU. If it follows the example of recent countries who’ve joined, it will be expected to sign up to adopt the euro in principle, once it has met the economic criteria for doing so. But then there’s no way of knowing whether or when Scotland would meet those criteria.

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