Scottish independence: An independent Scotland would find itself outside the EU and forced to reapply to join, the head of the European Council has indicated.
Herman Van Rompuy made it clear that the creation of a “new independent state” would mean that EU treaties no longer apply to it.
The SNP Government has insisted that it would remain inside the EU after a Yes vote and renegotiate it’s membership from within.
Mr Van Rompuoy is President of the European Council which is made up of all 27 members states which has a key influence over European policy and expension.
Mr Van Rompuy was answering a question about a proposed referendum in Catalonia. He declined to comment on a specific country, but agreed to set out “some of the principles that would apply in such a scenario.”
Speaking at a press conference in Madrid yesterday, he said: “If a part of the territory of a Member State ceases to be a part of that state because that territory becomes a new independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory.
“In other words, a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the Union and the treaties would, from the day of its independence, not apply anymore on its territory.”
Any new state could “apply to become a member of the Union” in line with established accession treaties, but “this would be subject to ratification by all Member States and the Applicant State.”
The Scottish Government has proposed that it could remain inside the EU and renegotiate its membership through amendments to existing treaties in line with Article 48 of the EU Treaty.
Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that Scotland is in a “unique” situation.
“We’ve complied with a body of European law for 40 years, our citizens are European citizens, we have something like 160,000 members of other European states living here,” she said.
“The idea that after independence, somehow Scotland wouldn’t be welcomed as an EU member, I just find that incredible.”
Alex Salmond was accused of misleading voters on the issue this week over a letter he read out in parliament last month from the EC indicating that Scotland could renegotiate its membership from inside the EC. The letter had been sent to an SNP activist.
Tory leader Ruth Davidson revealed yesterday that the Scottish Parliament had received a letter from EC indicating its position had not changed and a new independent country would find itself outside the EU.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The SNP naively argue that an independent Scotland would smoothly move to be a fully-fledged member of the European Union with all the benefits that the UK has secured over many years.
“That includes the rebate, the currency, immigration and no Spanish fishing rights in the North Sea. But the President is making clear it won’t be that easy. The big question for the nationalists is just what are they prepared to give up in order for us to remain the European Union?”
Patricia Ferguson, Scottish Labour’s external affairs spokesperson, said: “Alex Salmond’s position on an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union is no longer tenable.
“The most senior officials in the European Union are contradicting his assertions yet he just sticks his fingers in his ears and asks people to ignore the facts.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said: “This is a significant intervention from the President of the European Council, who is just the latest in a long line of people operating at the top table of Europe telling Alex Salmond he’s wrong.
“An independent Scotland wouldn’t call the shots in negotiating entry to the EU, nor would it get any special treatment. It would join the back of the same queue as every other country.”