A FORMER President of the European Council has warned that an independent Scotland is likely to be blocked from joining the European Union by Spain and Belgium, and would be forced to join the euro if it succeeded in gaining membership.
Ruairi Quinn, an Irish politician, presided over the Ecofin Council finance ministers who decided the detailed economic criteria all member states would have to meet in order to qualify to join the new euro currency.
In a statement he pointed out that it would require the unanimous approval of all member states for Scotland to be allowed into the EU.
He went on: “In my opinion, it is highly probable that at least two member states, maybe more, will vote no. Spain will not want to create the precedent in another member state of a nation/region deciding to leave and join the EU in their own right.
“Such a political development would really encourage Catalonia and The Basque Country to agitate for secession from Spain.
“Belgium, a Federal Kingdom which has two distinct regions, Flanders and Wallonia, is extremely worried that a Scottish precedent would really encourage the now very rich region of Flanders to secede from the Kingdom. This would impoverish Belgium.”
He added: “If, however unlikely, Scotland was accepted, as a full member it would have to agree that once its economy met the economic criteria of Economic and Monetary Union, as politically agreed in Dublin in December 1996, it would be legally obliged to join the euro.”
But a spokesman for Yes Scotland said: “Mr Quinn will be aware that one of the entry criteria is membership of the exchange rate mechanism for two years – which is itself voluntary – so no country can be forced to join the euro against its will, as the example of Sweden makes abundantly clear.
“An independent Scotland’s currency will be the pound.”