Juncker deals blow to Salmond's EU membership bid
Alex Salmond's claim that an independent Scotland would join the EU suffered a blow yesterday after the European Commission's new president said no new states would be admitted for five years.
Speaking before his formal appointment, Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU would "mark a pause" in its enlargement and "consolidate" with 28 member states.
The remark has major ramifications for the independence debate as Mr Salmond has argued that Scotland's membership would be negotiated in the 18 months between a Yes vote in September and leaving the UK in March 2016.
Mr Juncker's statement suggests Scotland would be outside the EU for at least three and a half years after quitting Britain.
Mr Juncker's remark came barely a fortnight after nationalists said he was a man they could "do business with" after a Yes vote.
Mr Salmond said yesterday that Westminster was the most significant threat to Scotland joining the EU, highlighting the appointment of the Eurosceptic Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary. But the pro-UK Better Together campaign and unionist parties said Mr Juncker was the latest in a long list of figures to warn independence would threaten Scotland's EU status.
A spokesman for the pro-separation Yes Scotland campaign said Mr Juncker was "obviously" talking about countries such as Kosovo that are outside the EU. (© Daily Telegraph, London)