During the 2016 Brexit referendum, Scotland voted to remain part of the European Union. Ms Sturgeon has claimed Scotland was taken out of the EU “against our will” and that the country’s future is as an “independent European nation”.
Now, in a bid to woo the bloc, the SNP-led Scottish government has announced researchers based in Scotland Europe will be able to apply for a £3 million scheme.
According to a press release, the scheme aims to repair research links with the EU following Britain’s departure from the EU.
The fund – delivered by the Scottish Funding Council and Royal Society of Edinburgh – will be open to all research disciplines including the arts, humanities and social sciences,
Higher and Further Education Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Scotland’s excellence in research and innovation is one of our greatest assets and our international connections are vital to maintaining and extending this.
“Many of our most effective collaborations are with partners in Europe and our new £3 million fund will help Scotland reinvigorate and repair vital research partnerships with Europe following the uncertainty caused by Brexit in recent years.
“This is crucial especially for our successful participation in Horizon Europe.
“Research collaboration has been crucial during the pandemic and will continue to be critical in addressing the net zero transition and other global challenges.
“Scotland’s future continues to firmly include European research collaboration and now is the time to help our researchers grow these important partnerships.”
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Ms Sturgeon and the SNP have been previously warned about the “costs as well as the benefits” of leaving the EU and attempting to rejoin
The Institute for Government pointed out that the UK’s exit from the EU took nearly five years, and so rejoining as an independent nation would inevitably take longer.
In April, the think tank said: “It could take easily as long, if not longer, for Scotland to complete its separation from the UK while also building the necessary institutions to become a fully sovereign state.
“The EU accession process could then take at least two years on top of that, based on how long the accession process has taken for previous new joiners.”
It continued: “The EU would probably welcome an application from an independent Scotland, but only if Scottish independence were based on agreement with the UK Government.
“Under EU law, Scotland could only formally apply to join the EU once it had secured its independence from the UK, and the whole process could take the best part of a decade.
“As an EU member state, Scotland would have no choice but to enforce customs processes, as well as regulatory checks on goods such as animal and plant products.”
Joining the EU would also mean Scotland would have to commit to adopting the euro, at least in principle.
Ms Sturgeon has also admitted Scotland could face a hard border with England.