Difficult for an independent Scotland to join EU: Barroso

February 17, 2014 - 12:00:00 am
LONDON: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned yetserday that it would be “difficult, if not impossible” for an independent Scotland to join the European Union.

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

The pro-independence governing Scottish National Party (SNP) criticised Barroso’s comments amid growing anger over Britain’s stance on the  currency.

“I believe it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to win approval from all other member states in order to join the European Union, Barroso told BBC television.

Scots are due to vote on independence on  September 18 in a historic referendum that could result in scrapping its 300-year link with the UK.

The SNP is campaigning for a “yes” vote to independence, while the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are in the “no” camp and want Scotland’s 5.3 million people to stay.

“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.”

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.

“This is a preposterous assertion—as the ridiculous comparison with Kosovo illustrates,” said Sturgeon, who oversees the Scottish government’s referendum strategy.

“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.