It’s official: Independent Scotland would have to apply for EU membership

Uncertainties over an independent Scotland's relationship with the EU have been laid to rest, after the European Commission confirmed to a Lords committee it would need to re-apply for membership.

In a serious blow to Alex Salmond's reputation, the letter said all existing treaties covering the UK's EU membership will cease to apply

"Alex Salmond makes it up as he goes along. He claimed for months he had sought legal advice on an independent Scotland’s place in the EU and then had to admit he hadn't," Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said.

"In the face of all the evidence to the contrary, Salmond claimed Scotland would remain in the EU.

"Now we have a definitive view from the European Commission that an independent Scotland would have to re-apply to join the EU."

He added: "The effect of that on Scotland could be devastating. It could be forced to join the Euro as all new entrants have to. It would lose all the opt-outs gained by UK governments over the years.

"Far from Scotland gaining more power, we would in fact be ceding more power. It would merely be a transfer of powers from Edinburgh and London to Brussels and Frankfurt."

Scotland could face considerable resistance to even getting into the EU.

Various European governments have good reason to obstruct the process, as they grapple with their own separatist activists.

The Spanish government, which is blocking Catalonian and Basque efforts for self-determination, wants Scotland to "get to the back of the queue" if it goes independent. The Cypriot government would take a similar position.

The European Commission letter said a vote for independence in 2014 would not be "neutral".

It went on: "If a territory of a member state ceases to be part of that member state because it has become an independent state then the treaties would cease to apply to that territory."

The rest of the UK would then remain within the EU as the successor state, the letter read, directly contradicting arguments made by senior Scottish National party (SNP) figures.