Scotland would have to re-apply for membership of the European Union if it becomes independent, Brussels has insisted.
Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesman for the European Commission, insisted the so-called “Barroso Doctrine” would take effect if Scotland left the UK.
In 2012, former Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso stated that “a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the Treaties would no longer apply on its territory”.
The SNP has insisted in the past that Scotland would automatically join the EU as it is already a member as part of the UK.
But at a briefing in Brussels today, Mr Schinas said: “The Commission does not comment on issues that pertain to the internal legal and constitutional order of our member states,” he told reporters, before adding: “The Barroso doctrine, would that apply? Yes that would apply, obviously.”
His comments are a blow for Nicola Sturgeon, who has said that in the wake of the Brexit vote, independence is the only way to protect Scotland’s EU membership.
Meanwhile, the head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, also said that Scotland would have to re-apply to join the nuclear military alliance if it left the UK.
“If it happens then the UK will continue as a member of Nato, but a new independent state has to apply for membership and then it’s up to the 28 allies to decide whether we will have a new member because all decisions in Nato are taken by consensus,” the Norwegian told Sky News.
“Not automatically, because by leaving the UK it will also leave Nato. But of course it’s absolutely possible to apply for membership.”