At a meeting of the European Parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group yesterday (Tuesday 18 February) afternoon in Brussels, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy confirmed the view of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso that he expressed to Andrew Marr this past Sunday where he cast considerable doubt on the ability of Scotland to regain its membership of the European Union in the event of independence.
Van Rompuy’s remarks came under questioning by Scottish Conservative Euro MP and ECR member Struan Stevenson, who asked the Belgian if he shared Barroso’s view that an independent Scotland would face a “difficult, if not impossible” task to join the EU as an accession state.
In response, Van Rompuy stated clearly that, “I said exactly the same as President Barroso a few months ago when I was in Madrid and the government of Catalonia decided to launch a campaign on a referendum. I said they would have to become an accession state and apply to join the EU… So I agree with President Barroso.” (Please see note 2 to editors below for the full exchange between Stevenson and Van Rompuy.)
Speaking from Brussels after the meeting, Mr Stevenson said:
“This latest revelation further torpedoes the SNP’s claims that an independent Scotland would easily waltz into the European Union upon a ‘Yes’ vote in September. As the President of the European Council, the body made up of all of the EU’s member states, Van Rompuy will know better than anyone the hard road ahead for an independent Scotland should it reapply to the EU as an accession state.
“This news will come as yet another blow to Alex Salmond and offers another example of the actual facts on-the-ground refusing to bend to the SNP’s rosy independence narrative. On this as on the currency issue, the party is losing credibility by the hour. At every turn, the whole edifice of the nationalists’ case for independence is being shown to be a mere house of cards that threatens to topple at any moment.
“There is no reason for Scotland to embark upon this radically uncertain path. Scots already enjoy the fruits of membership of the EU as part of the UK and we should not put our seat at Europe’s top table at risk in pursuit of the SNP’s independence chimera.”