Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Joining EU 'difficult if not impossible' for Scotland, Barroso warns

  • (Photo: maria_navarro_sorolla)

The prospect of an independent Scotland being allowed to join the EU would be "difficult, if not impossible," European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said on Sunday (16 February).

During an interview on the BBC, the chief of the EU executive implied that countries such as Spain, which is currently anxious to prevent its own region of Catalonia becoming a breakaway state, would veto Scottish attempts to join the EU.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • EU accession would be 'difficult if not impossible' for Scotland, the EU Commission boss warned in an interview Sunday. (Photo: The Laird of Oldham)

"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 other [existing member states]," said Barroso.

"We have seen that Spain has been opposing even the recognition of Kosovo, for instance, so it's to some extent a similar case because it's a new country," he added.

The Scottish government says that if voters choose independence in the September referendum then it would re-write and agree the country's revised membership terms in the eighteen months after the vote.

During this time Scotland would still be officially part of the UK before becoming independent in 2016.

It also believes that the country would be able to join the EU by using Article 48 of the EU treaty which would avoid the need for a formal accession process.

But Barroso appeared to dash these hopes as well.

"In case there is a new country, a new state, coming out of a current member state it will have to apply," he said. "Accession to the European Union will have to be approved by all other member states of the European Union," he added.

Barroso's remarks were quickly dismissed as "preposterous" by Scotland's deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

"This is a preposterous assertion – as the ridiculous comparison with Kosovo illustrates. Scotland is already in the EU and has been for 40 years," she said.

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

However, Barroso's statements will still come as a blow to the Scottish nationalist government, which believes that it would face few problems in negotiating its terms as a new EU member state.

Scots will vote on 16 September to decide whether or not to become independent from the UK.

Two months later, voters in Catalonia could also have their say on whether to secede from Spain, although the Spanish government is planning to prevent a referendum which it claims would be illegal under the country's constitution.

EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy

Privacy safeguards for EU citizens' personal data that is sent to the United States remains exposed to abuse, due to the lack of oversight and the shift towards increased surveillance under president Trump.

News in Brief

  1. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  2. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  3. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  4. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  5. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  6. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  7. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  8. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans