herald

Friday 15 December 2017

independence 'could force scots out of EU'

Scotland will be forced out of the European Union if it becomes independent, and any attempt to rejoin would take years, a group of Britain's former top representatives in Brussels has insisted.

Labour and Conservative peers, including Peter Mandelson, Leon Brittan and Neil Kinnock, said some of the opt-outs the UK has won from EU diktats would be "impossible" for a Scottish government to secure.

Scotland could be forced to join the euro, lose out on rebates and VAT exemptions as well as control over its borders, the former European commissioners warned.

Spain, which is watching the referendum closely after a rise in support for the Yes campaign energised Catalan separatists, is set to prove a key obstacle in any membership negotiations, they said.

In a joint statement, the peers said voters must make their decision based on "hard, true facts".

They highlighted warnings over Scotland's future membership made by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, whose term ends in October, Jean-Claude Piris, former European Council legal counsel, Spanish European affairs minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo and Gianni Pittella, president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in Europe.

The peers said: "As those who have served as British members of the European Commission, we wholeheartedly believe that the whole United Kingdom, Scotland as much as any other part, benefits from membership of the EU.

"As Scotland comes to its day of decision about its future, it is vitally important that voters are in full possession of the facts about what separation would mean for Scotland in Europe.

"People from the president of the European Commission to the greatest living expert on EU law, to the Spanish Europe Minister and the leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament all agree: if Scotland leaves the UK it also leaves the EU. There would - and could - be no 'seamless transition'.

hnews@herald.ie

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