An independent Scotland would have to join the back of the queue if it wanted to rejoin the EU, the Spanish foreign minister has said Tuesday.
Responding to Monday’s announcement from Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, that she intends to hold a second independence referendum, Alfonso Dastis said Spain was opposed to the fracturing of the UK, reports The Guardian.
He said: “Spain supports the integrity of the United Kingdom and does not encourage secessions or divisions in any of the member states. We prefer things to stay as they are.”
Spain is particularly keen to ensure that Scotland does not become independent as it seeks to contain its own separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque country.
Dastis added that if Scotland split from the UK before it leaves the EU in 2019, the newly independent state would be regarded as a non-EU member and could not expect any special treatment because it was only an EU member as a part of the UK.
He said Scotland “would have to queue, meet the requirements for entry, hold negotiations and the result would be that these negotiations would take place”.
Sturgeon wants Scots to vote on their future in the EU before Brexit, which is likely to be finalised at the end of March 2019.
Announcing her intention to seek approval from the Scottish parliament for a new referendum, she said on Monday: “If Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice must be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019.”
Sturgeon also suggested that Scotland would be better placed as an independent nation to “secure our relationship with Europe, build a stronger and more sustainable economy and create a fairer society”.
However, on Monday a European commission spokesman also suggested that any newly independent country would need to negotiate to join, referring to the position of the former commission president José Manuel Barroso.
During an interview in 2012, Barroso said: “For European Union purposes, from a legal point of view, it is certainly a new state. If a country becomes independent it is a new state and has to negotiate with the EU.”
During the last referendum in Scotland on independence, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said independence would be a “torpedo to the vulnerabilities of the EU, which was created to integrate states, not to fragment them”.