AN independent Scotland would be able to rejoin the EU relatively quickly, a senior German MEP has said.
Elmar Brok, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, told the BBC there would be no queue and “not many technical problems” standing in the way of Scotland becoming the 28th member of the EU after Brexit.
The SNP welcomed the comments from Brok, saying it was more proof that “EU countries want to be constructive with Scotland”.
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Brok is the former chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and a member of Merkel’s CDU party. He is one of the old guard in Brussels, having first been elected in 1980, and has often led for the parliament on constitutional and enlargement issues.
“Scotland has our sympathy,” Brok said. “If there is a possibility that the United Kingdom breaks – which we do not want to see happen – then I think we should have a positive relationship with Scotland to find solutions.
“We would like to have Britain as a whole in the European Union. If parts would come, I would be the last one who would be against it.”
Brok said: “If this is not approved by London then we have problems with other countries, because it would be an example for Catalonia, for example.”
But, Brok, above, went on, Scotland already satisfies most of the requirements for EU membership: “So a lot of things which we have to negotiate with the candidate countries we would not have to negotiate with Scotland because Scotland has already done it.
“If the political agreement would be there, then the process would be relatively speedy.”
Brok added: “Scotland is a member of the European Union and fulfils all of the conditions. There will be not many technical problems.”
Brexit, he said, meant there was more sympathy for Scottish independence among the other 27 EU member states than before.
The MEP continued: “In 2014, it was a situation before Brexit and we do not want to harm the United Kingdom – that might have been a consideration in Spain.”
Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis confirmed at the weekend that his country would not veto Scotland’s entry to the EU.
Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s Europe spokesman said: “Elmar Brok is one of the European Parliament’s most senior and long-serving members, with decades of experience.
“His comments on Scotland are welcome and he joins a growing list of senior decision-makers from around Europe who are making a common-sense case for Scotland.
“This puts paid to Tory myths that somehow Scotland would somehow find itself blocked form EU membership.
“EU countries want to be constructive with Scotland and will respect the democratic will of the Scottish people if we choose to be independent.”
In an piece for The National’s website, Tory MEP Ian Duncan suggested Scotland would have to give up a many things join the EU, including fishing rights. He said: “I sit on the European Parliament fisheries committee. It is dominated by the MEPs of two nations, Spain and the UK.
“One thing guaranteed to have Spain reaching for its veto is the proposal mooted by some SNP MSPs that Scotland could secure an opt-out from the Common Fisheries Policy during its application process.
“Explaining to Scottish fishermen that it is SNP Government policy to return them to the shackles of the CFP won’t go down well in Banff and Buchan, or in any other coastal community for that matter. Give in, give up, and the threat of a veto disappears.”
Meanwhile, Theresa May met European Council President Donald Tusk in Downing Street yesterday in a bid to strike a more “positive” tone in negotiations.
The meeting followed an incredibly bad-tempered week that saw the Prime Minister forced to publicly rule out going to war with Spain, after former Tory leader Michael Howard suggested Britain could send a “task force” to protect Gibraltar. Downing Street said the Prime Minister and Tusk had discussed events in the Iberian Peninsular, and that May had “made clear” that “there would be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its people”.
A spokesman said: “The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s desire to ensure a deep and special partnership with the European Union following its exit and noted the constructive approach set out by the council in its draft guidelines published last week.”
“Both leaders agreed that the tone of discussions had been positive on both sides, and that they would seek to remain in close touch as the negotiations progressed.”
Leaving the talks, Tusk was asked if they had been successful. He replied: “As always.”
An EU source told the BBC the two had a “friendly” meeting, adding: “They agreed to stay in regular contact throughout the Brexit process to keep a constructive approach and seek to lower tensions that may arise when talks on some issues like Gibraltar inevitably will become difficult.”