Academics are to investigate Scotland's uncertain future in the European Union as part of a new forum drawing together the constitutional expertise of five universities.
The Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum (SCFF) has been launched with the aim of addressing the "wide range of questions which have to be answered" on Scotland's future. One of the first events will be a public session examining the status of an independent Scotland in the EU.
Alan Page, professor of public law at the University of Dundee, writes in the Forum's first article that the debate about what should be decided in Edinburgh rather than London currently ignores "how much is decided in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg".
Professor Page also complains that there has been a vacuum in the debate about "the control and accountability of government" since devolution, noting that governments can potentially be "a force for ill".
The Scottish Government insists that Scotland will remain a member of the EU and retain all of the UK's existing rights and opt-outs. It is unclear whether they have sought legal advice to back this up as ministers have gone to court to prevent the public knowing if it exists.
SCFF is an initiative of academics from five Scottish law schools at the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde.
Professor Paul Beaumont from the University of Aberdeen said: "We will be hosting two public events in Aberdeen on two key areas where expert analysis will help voters to make an informed decision in the independence referendum in 2014. First, what status would an independent Scotland have in the European Union and second, what was the constitutional nature of Scotland before it became part of the United Kingdom in 1707 and why did the Union take place?"
The SCFF website will provide resources for those seeking information about the ongoing constitutional debate, providing up-to-date commentary on the unfolding issues.
Professor Page said: "The debate about Scotland's constitutional future promises to be a debate about more powers for the Scottish Parliament, be it in the form of an independent Scotland, 'independence-lite', 'devo-max' or however else we want to describe our vision of the promised land. A debate about what should be decided in Edinburgh rather than London, forgetting for the moment at least how much is decided in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.
"There is another side of that debate which ought not to be lost sight of, but of which remarkably little has been heard since devolution. And that is the control and accountability of government. For some it is the whole story. For others it is tempered by knowledge that government has the potential to be a force for tremendous good as well as a force for ill."