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SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP has welcomed a statement by the European Commission in which it describes a possible future independent Scotland and the remaining parts of the UK equally as "the parties concerned" - and refuses to differentiate between them in terms of EU membership.
The Commission's statement, in an answer to a question from a Catalan MEP, states that they are unable to comment on specifics, given that the terms and result of the proposed independence referendum are not yet known.
The treatment of Scotland and the remainder UK (rUK) as equal parties is fully in line however with legal opinion that Scotland and rUK will constitute two successor states to the current UK. Mr Hudghton commented:
"The Commission is right not to speculate on the outcome of the referendum given that the Scottish government's consultation is still ongoing, and it is not the EU's role to pre-empt the democratic will of the Scottish people.
"A number of supporters of the anti-independence parties have attempted to spread scare stories about Scotland's future role in the EU - and they would perhaps be better advised not to pre-empt that democratic will.
"The Commission make clear however that they regard both Scotland and the rUK equally as 'the parties concerned'.
"They go on to speak of the future relationship 'between those parties and European Union partners' - again implying both that Scotland and rUK are being treated equally and that the rest of the EU remain 'partners'.
"As a matter of fact Scotland, together with the rest of the UK, is already a member of the EU. The Commission states that the terms of the European Treaties are decided by its Member States - and both Scotland and the rUK will play their role as equal Member States in amending those Treaties to take account of the two successor states post- independence".
Notes for editors
*In response to a written question from Catalan MEP Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, the Commission stated: At the present time, the Commission is not able to express any view on the specific issue raised by the Honourable Member given that the terms and result of any future referendum are unknown, as is the nature of the possible future relationships between the parties concerned and between those parties and European Union partners.
The Commission would recall in this context that the terms of any European Union Treaty are decided by the Member States of the European Union.