After he was named the next president of the European Commission, one of the first things Jean-Claude Juncker did was to puncture the hopes of any Scottish nationalists confident of soon becoming citizens of the EU’s 29th state.
In the next five years, Mr Juncker said, the EU would not take on any new members but would rather “consolidate what has been achieved among the [existing] 28”.
Officials in Brussels noted the alarm in Edinburgh and moved quickly to explain that the new president had been talking about the Balkans, adding that Scotland would be a “special case”. But deliberately or not, Mr Juncker had made the point that there is no guarantee an independent Scotland will be able to join the EU.
EU lawyers and constitutional experts have no doubt that Scotland’s accession to the bloc is possible but Edinburgh will have to run a lengthy gauntlet of potential vetoes, crucially from Spain, which fears a Scottish Yes could accelerate Catalan dreams of independence. It will also need to deal with the question of joining the euro, which is now in theory obligatory for any new member. [...]