... the president of the European council,
... who has intervened in the Scottish independence debate, claiming that nothing will be gained from breaking up the UK. Herman Van Rompuy, who would chair meetings to discuss if an independent Scotland could join the EU, said the move for separatism was a thing of the past.
Van Rompuy, who will still be president of the council in 2014, when the independence referendum is due to take place, was asked his views on Scottish independence during a recent Q&A session broadcast on YouTube. "Nobody has anything to gain from separatism in the world of today which, whether one likes it or not, is globalised," he said. "We have so many important challenges to take and we will only succeed if we can pool forces, join action, take common directions. The global financial crisis is hitting us hard. Climate change is threatening the planet. How can separatism help? The word of the future is union."
A source close to the president said Van Rompuy would not be campaigning against Scottish independence. "The president would never involve himself in a national dispute. However, Scotland will need to reapply for EU membership and he could chair the meetings where that is discussed," he said. Van Rompuy's term will finish at the end of 2014.
"I can imagine some nations would make that a difficult meeting – Spain, Cyprus and Belgium. His own view is that separatism is as described on that video. He voted, for example, in favour of devolution in Belgium, but not independence for Flanders."
The comments will be a blow to Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, and emerge after the UK government reiterated that an independent Scotland would have to apply to the EU to become a new member state.
Salmond has claimed that Scotland would not have to leave the EU and even erroneously claimed to have had EU legal advice on the issue. However, it has since emerged that no such advice had been sought and a former Whitehall mandarin has been asked to conduct an independent inquiry into whether Salmond misled Holyrood and so breached the ministerial code.
The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, entered the fray last week to declare that Salmond's statements on Scotland getting automatic membership of the EU "has no basis in fact".
Clegg said Scottish nationalists "don't want to face what might happen to Scotland's influence on fishing quotas or agricultural policy or the regulation of the banks. They don't want reality to bite. So they've gone into denial, preferring political assertion to legal advice."
Former foreign secretary David Miliband has dismissed SNP claims that an independent Scotland would automatically join the EU as "fantasy island". On a visit to Scotland, Miliband said leaving the UK would leave an independent Scotland "in limbo in Europe".
He claimed there would have to be "detailed and forensic negotiations" between all the current member states before Scotland could be admitted, adding that the addition of a new nation would affect the relative wealth of all other EU countries.
He also said it would have an impact on the voting weight for each country in terms of the relative influence of their MEPs – factors that would have to be reflected by an adjustment of EU rules.
"The final part is that you have to get agreement of all 27 countries, soon to be 28, of all ministers, and then it has to be ratified by each country," said Miliband. "France has said that any enlargement of the EU will require a referendum in France." (Source The Observer 4 Nov 2011.)To the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party and its by-blow Plaid Cymru), Herman Achille Van Rompuy has given a profound judgement on the separatist agenda (Salmond and chums), Europe doesn't want separatism in its march towards a united Europe ...