Brussels signals backing for indy Scotland over continued EU membership

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
A newly independent Scotland would be ‘unlikely’ to be excluded from the European Union, sources in Brussels have told a Sunday newspaper.
 
According to Scotland on Sunday, a Yes vote in September’s independence referendum would see Scotland treated as a ‘special case’ as negotiations began to officially recognise the new state as a member of the EU in its own right.

The newspaper reports that New European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is “sympathetic” to an independent Scotland continuing as a member of the European Union. 

As a part of the UK, Scotland has been part of the EU for forty years and already meets the “core EU requirements” for member states.  Sources have reportedly told the newspaper that Scotland would be treated as a “special and separate case”, circumventing many of the the normal rules of application.

The newspaper quotes a high-ranking EU official saying that Junker “would not want Scotland to be kept out”. The source said: “He’d be sympathetic as someone who is from a smaller country as he’ll understand the obstacles that can be put in the way of less powerful member states.”

The news will come as a significant blow to the anti-independence campaign.  Unionists have consistently claimed that a newly independent Scotland would find itself out of the EU and forced to re-apply for entry.

This week Better Together officials claimed that a speech from the new EC President was proof that a Yes vote in September’s referendum would lead to Scotland being forced into the EU wilderness for at least five years.  The claims were based on remarks from Juncker after he called for a five year suspension on EU enlargement.

However within hours of the claims by Better Together, Juncker’s office issued a response confirming the EC President was not talking about Scotland, but was in fact referring to so-called candidate countries from the Balkans.

In a statement, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland is already part of the EU and as such already meets all the requirements for membership.

“The specific terms of continued membership as an independent country will be negotiated in the 18-month transition timetable we have indicated.”

Despite the latest reports, A Better Together spokesman re-issued the campaign group’s statement from earlier this week, and said: “President Juncker has made it perfectly clear that he agrees with his predecessor José Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy that if we vote to leave the UK we need to reapply to the join the EU.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “The truth is it is unlikely Mr Juncker or anyone else round the negotiating table would give Scotland special treatment at the expense of their own countries.”

However the claim that being treated as a ‘special case’ is unlikely during negotiations is at odds with comments from the UK Government in May this year when they welcomed a statement from former EC President Jose manuel Barroso who said the UK would be made a ‘special case’ in any negotiations to do with London’s relationship with Brussels.

Speaking at the Humboldt University, Mr Barroso had said: “I passionately believe that Europe is stronger with the UK as its member, and that the UK is stronger as a member of the European Union than on its own.

“But I do acknowledge that for historical, geopolitical and economic reasons, the case of the UK may be seen as a special one.”

The former EC President added: “We can, and should, find ways to cater to the UK’s specificity, in as much as this does not threaten the [European] Union’s overall coherence.”