Spanish Foreign Minister torpedoes No campaign EU claims

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
Comments from Spain’s Foreign Minister on his country’s attitude to an independent Scotland’s position within the EU have been described today as “demolishing another No campaign scare story”.
 
In an interview given to La Vanguardia newspaper, José Manuel García-Margallo has insisted his country will be guided by the attitude of the Westminster Government if Scotland votes Yes in the 2014 independence referendum.

According to the newspaper, Mr García-Margallo said the attitude of the Westminster Government would be the “determining” factor in how his country regarded an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU.
 
He said: “Spain does not work on hypotheses.  What I do say is that the attitude of the United Kingdom would be the determining factor at the time of deciding our vote.”

The comments from the Spanish Minister have been seized on by the SNP who have insisted it destroys claims from the No campaign that Spain would seek to veto the EU membership of a newly independent Scotland. 

The comments from the Mr García-Margallo follow a statement from Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in which the PM said that a “region” that opted to leave a member state would “remain outside” of the EU.  Mr Rajoy’s comments, although believed to be targeted at Catalonia, were seized on by Unionists as proof that Spain would veto a newly independent Scotland’s EU membership.

Commenting on the latest intervention, SNP MSP Clare Adamson who sits on the European and External Relations Committee said:

“This demolishes another scare story from the No campaign’s ‘Project Fear’.

“The Spanish Foreign Minister’s statement of reality consigns this anti-independence myth to the dustbin – along with other daft scares such as mobile phone roaming charges, and Westminster annexing Faslane. 

“It entirely dismisses the No campaign’s attempts to claim that Spain would veto an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU – despite the fact that Spain has never threatened to do this, and clearly would not.”

The MSP pointed to the Edinburgh Agreement, signed by the Scottish and Westminster Governments, as evidence that London will cooperate with Holyrood on matters such as EU membership should Scotland vote Yes next year. 

Ms Adamson added: “The Edinburgh Agreement commits both the Westminster and Scottish Governments to respect the result of the referendum and to work together to deliver on what the people of Scotland decide – and the Spanish Foreign Minister has said that this will be the ‘determining’ factor for Spain.

“It is an entirely sensible attitude for our European neighbours to expect to shape their attitudes to Scotland from the pragmatic approach that both the Scottish and UK governments are committed to.

“The uncomfortable truth for the anti-independence campaign is that the only threat to Scotland’s continued place in Europe comes from remaining stuck under the Westminster system- where UKIP are setting the agenda – and the Tories’ planned in/out referendum.

“Only a Yes vote will ensure that Scotland cannot be dragged out of the EU against the will of people living here – and independence will ensure that we become a European nation with the equality of status of our friends and neighbours.”

The issue of EU membership has been one of the key areas of debate in the independence campaign.  Unionists have insisted that a newly independent Scotland will be forced out of the EU and have to re-apply, with the possibility of a near decade wait.

However the Scottish Government has insisted that Scotland will still be officially part of the UK immediately following a Yes vote and as such will remain an EU member.  The twenty month period leading up to full independence will allow for negotiations to take place in order to ensure a continuation of EU membership.