Scottish independence: Fresh EU doubts for independent Scotland

Scotland 'would meet the criteria for EU membership'. Picture: Neil Hanna
Scotland 'would meet the criteria for EU membership'. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE prospect of Scotland automatically remaining in the European Union after independence has been thrown into doubt after a leading official indicated that the country may have to re-apply to join.

European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly made the claims just days after Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said a region that secedes from a member state would have to renegotiate “within the international legal order”.

First Minister Alex Salmond rejected the claims, insisting that Scotland would inherit the UK’s position within the EU after

independence.

But opposition parties say it is the “clearest indication” yet that Scotland’s place in the EU after independence would only be secured after lengthy negotiations.

Mr Bailly, head of the EU’s growth and jobs communications unit, said there are two steps in the process.

“There is a secession process under international law, and the request for accession to EU member state under EU treaties,” he said.

“In the meantime, of course, this [country] is not part of the EU since it has to make a request for accession.”

Mr Bailly later attempted to play down his comments and issued a statement to say that he was answering a “speculative question”.

He added that this “cannot be taken as an indication of what the commission think of which scenario might be decided in this hypothetical case under international law.”

Mr Barroso yesterday said he would not speculate now about possible secessions within existing states, such as the UK.

But he added: “To join the EU, yes, we have a procedure and it is a procedure in international law.

“A state has to be a democracy and has to apply to become a member of the EU. All the other member states have to give their consent.”