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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# cold water
It could be "impossible" for an independent Scotland to join the EU
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso noted that the formation of a new member state needs approval from all other EU nations.

IT COULD BE “impossible” for an independent Scotland to join the EU, the head of the European Commission has warned.

“I believe it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible” because the formation of a new member from a member state needs approval from all other EU nations, Jose Manuel Barroso told BBC television.

Barroso’s blunt statement ramps up the pressure ahead of Scotland’s key referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, following Britain’s warning that it will not be allowed to keep the pound if it votes to break away.


Barroso speaking to the BBC. (Image Credit: The Andrew Marr Show/BBC)

Scots are due to vote on independence on 18 September in a historic referendum that could result in the breaking up of its 300-year union.

“I don’t want to interfere on your referendum here, your democratic discussion here, but of course it will be extremely difficult to get the approval of all the other member states to have a new member coming from one member state,” Barroso said.

“We have seen Spain has been opposing even the recognition of Kosovo, for instance. So it is to some extent a similar case because it’s a new country and so I believe it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, a new member state coming out of one of our countries getting the agreement of the others.”

“Scottish people”

But he added: “It’s for the Scottish people… to decide about the future of Scotland.”

The comments drew a sharp rebuke from Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party (SNP) is spearheading the pro-independence campaign.

“This is a preposterous assertion, as the ridiculous comparison with Kosovo illustrates,” Sturgeon said in a statement.

image Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. (Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

“Scotland is already in the EU and has been for 40 years.”

“As Mr Barroso rightly says, the question of Scotland’s independent membership of the EU is a matter for the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the views of other member states, not the European Commission,” she said.

The fact of the matter is that no member state has said that it would veto Scotland’s continuing membership.

Britain, which is campaigning for a “no” vote in the referendum, has already warned that an independent Scotland would have to leave the pound.

Finance minister George Osborne said on Thursday that there was “no legal reason” why the rest of the United Kingdom would have to share the pound.

All three of Britain’s three main political parties argue that they will not let an independent Scotland retain the pound sterling currency.

The Scottish government has previously said it will seek to negotiate Scotland’s EU membership in the 18 months after the referendum, should Scots vote in favour of leaving the UK.

- © AFP, 2014

Previously: Independent Scotland would ‘stay in EU’ >

Column: The countdown to Scotland’s referendum is on – but many questions remain >

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