Scotland politics

Scottish independence: 'I will respect referendum result', says Juncker

Juncker and Barroso Image copyright EU
Image caption Jean-Claude Juncker (right) is expected to replace Jose Manuel Barroso (left) as the president of the EU Commission

The president-designate of the EU Commission is reported to have said he would respect the result of Scotland's referendum.

On Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker met with a group of MEPs.

Mr Juncker told them he was "in favour of democratic expressions" and would respect Scotland's decision.

However, in answer to a question about Catalonia and Scotland joining the EU, he said "one does not become a member of the EU by writing a letter".

Mr Juncker was questioned about his position on the Scottish independence referendum, due to take place in September, by Catalan MEP Josep Maria Terricabras.

  • A referendum on whether Scotland should become independent is to take place
  • People resident in Scotland will be able to take part in the vote, answering the "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
  • The referendum will take place on Thursday 18 September, 2014
  • Go to the BBC's Scotland Decides page for analysis, background and explainers on the independence debate.

The official is reported to have said: "I am in favour of democratic expressions, but I'm not so arrogant to pre-empt the debate.

"I will respect the result of Scotland's referendum."

He added: "One does not become a member of the EU by sending a letter."

In a later meeting, Mr Juncker was asked by Scottish UKIP MEP, David Coburn, whether an independent Scotland would remain in the EU.

Mr Juncker replied: "I have to say that of course it's up to the UK to deal with this question.

"Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso have already answered the questions about EU membership. I have nothing to add."

In February, the current EU Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said an independent Scotland's entry to the EU would be "extremely difficult".

He said: "In case there is a new country, a new state, coming out of a current member state it will have to apply.

"Of course it will be extremely difficult to get the approval of all the other member states to have a new member coming from one member state."

'Facts are clear'

Alyn Smyth, SNP MEP who attended the meeting with Mr Juncker, said the comments showed "refreshing common sense".

Mr Smyth said: "Mr Juncker is playing it straight.

"He's shown he will respect the democratic process, and then deal with the choice of the people of Scotland.

He added: "We can do business with Mr Juncker, which is more than can be said for his predecessor."

A Better Together spokesman said: "The facts are clear - if we leave the UK then we would need to reapply to join the EU, on terms much less favourable to those we enjoy today.

"As part of the UK we have special EU deals that would be put at risk if we went our separate ways. Where is the sense in putting that at risk?"

Mr Juncker is expected to become president of the EU Commission in November.