There has been much discussion among politicians and the press in recent days, including at FMQs today, about whether or not an independent Scotland would be required to adopt the euro.
As someone newly qualified in EU law, I thought I would take a look, not at the political arguments, but at the black letter law - what the Treaties actually say.
So lets explore the 'worst case scenario' put forward by Labour and Tory politicians: Scotland as an accession state.
This is the legal position on euro membership:
The most recent accession treaty (for countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Poland) contains the following provision:
"Each of the new Member States shall participate in Economic and Monetary Union from the date of accession as a Member State with a derogation within the meaning of Article 122 of the EC Treaty"
Article 122 of the EC Treaty has now been replaced by Articles 139 and 140 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). If you stop at this point, the argument seems won - all new members "shall participate" in the single currency. However, there is another step. We need, also, to look at what Articles 139 and 140 TFEU actually say.
These articles apply to all Member States without a euro opt out, whether old or new, whether accession or not. Article 139 TFEU sets out that "Member States with a derogation" do not participate in the single currency or monetary union. Article 140 TFEU then makes clear that euro membership is not automatic. In order to join the euro, a Member State has to satisfy certain criteria, including currency convergence as part of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II).
So what are the rules for participation in ERM II? These are set out in the 16 June 1997 Resolution of the European Council establishing the Exchange Rate Mechanism and the 16th March 2006 agreement between the European Central Bank and the national central banks of the Member States outside the euro area. These make clear "participation in ERM II is voluntary for the non-euro area Member States".
So, in summary, the Treaties make clear that a Member State can't join the euro without demonstrating currency convergence as part of ERM II "for at least two years" and because Scotland (or any other Member State, old or new) can choose whether or not to join ERM II, we can't be forced to join the euro. There is a point of decision - whether or not to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism - which is ours to take, and if we don't join ERM II, we won't be joining the euro.
As a final thought, I started work for the SNP in the House of Commons and have huge respect for the House of Commons library and its highly effective staff. It is therefore very disappointing that they should put out a report on euro membership for an independent Scotland without referring to what the Treaties and other provisions of EU law actually say. I hope that mistake is now remedied.