Separatism is a thing of the past, says Europe’s president

Herman van Rompuy with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street recently.     Picture: AP
Herman van Rompuy with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street recently. Picture: AP
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THE president of the European Council has said he opposes separatism and suggested there is nothing to gain from it in a globalised world.

In a question and answer session, Herman van Rompuy, who is one of the top two civil servants in Europe, described separation as something from the past and said the future lay with “union”.

Sources close to Mr van Rompuy said an independent Scotland would have to reapply for membership of the EU.

Meanwhile, it was also reported that the Cypriot government wanted Scotland to join the queue and negotiate re-entry into the EU.

In the video, Mr van Rompuy said: “Nobody has anything to gain from separatism in the world of today which, whether one likes it or not, is globalised.

“We have so many important challenges to take and we will only succeed if we can pool forces, join action, take common directions. The global financial crisis is hitting us hard. Climate change is threatening the planet. How can separatism help? The word of the future is union.”

The video, which emerged yesterday, was filmed in June 2011, but a spokesman for the president of the Council of Europe said Mr van Rompuy’s views remained the same.

A source close to Mr van Rompuy said: “The president would never involve himself in a national dispute. However, Scotland will need to reapply for EU membership and he could chair the meetings where that is discussed.”

As prime minister of Belgium, Mr van Rompuy voted against independence for the Flanders region, but was a supporter of devolution.

His comments follow those of Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who told his parliament Scotland “would have to get to the back of the queue” if it wanted to apply.

The Scottish Government last month admitted it had yet to take legal advice over the country’s position in Europe in the event of independence.

Last night, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, Margaret 
Curran, said the comments raised questions about whether Scotland would have to reapply. She said: “Scots will rightly be asking the same question that the Mr van Rompuy did – is separation in this global age really the way forward?

“I would suggest that Alex Salmond stops his assertions and listens to those who know more about this than him.

“The SNP’s claims that Scotland will simply walk straight into the EU, are shown to be more and more ridiculous.”

The SNP said the story was“completely out of date” because the comments were made on 30 June last year, nearly 18 months before the signing of the agreement on a referendum.