By Chris Rumbles

Two opposing French politicians have criticised European Commission president José Manuel Barroso for wading into the debate over an independent Scotland’s European Union membership.

French Socialist MP Axelle Lemaire, whose unique constituency role covers all French people living in Northern Europe, joined her conservative UMP counterpart, Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, in saying President Barroso’s comments were nothing more than a manoeuvre to earn political capital ahead of a rumoured campaign to become NATO secretary general.

She has been joined by Ms Garriaud-Maylam, a senior figure in France’s main opposition party, who speaking in the Herald, said President Barroso was sending out threats that were in no way “credible”.

She said: “The threats formulated by Mr Barroso are inappropriate and the result of Spanish and English pressure. London is increasingly worried.

“If Scotland votes for independence, it will stay in the European Union. It would be in England’s interest.”

While appearing on the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme, Ms Lemaire denounced the actions of President Barroso:

“It’s up to the Scottish people and to the people who live in Scotland, in general, to express their views. There is a very heated but democratic debate going on, and I don’t think it was up to President Barroso to say what he thinks about it.”

Ms Lemaire went on to say: “We all know he’s the current President of the European Commission, but his mandate is coming to a term soon with the new commission that will be nominated after the European elections taking place at the end of May, so he has a personal agenda…

“In order to become that, he needs the support of the United Kingdom and David Cameron, so, clearly he did that for reasons that probably aren’t as legitimate as they appear…”

Axelle Lamaire – Referendum is discussed at 2 mins 55 secs

President Barroso’s comments while appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show last month ignited further debate on Scotland’s place in the EU should it vote ‘Yes’ in September.  Mr Barroso explained he thought it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for an independent Scotland to obtain enough support among EU members to maintain its membership, he later appeared to backtrack on the comments.

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, who convenes the European Committee in the Scottish Parliament, welcomed what she described as “common-sense opinions” from both Ms Lemaire and Ms Garriaud-Maylam that helped counter anti-independence “scaremongering”.

She said: “With Labour edging ever closer to the Tories’ commitment to an in-out EU referendum, it is now indisputable that the threat to Scotland continuing in European Union comes from remaining under the Westminster system.

“Westminster’s lurch to the right is being driven by UKIP’s hard-right agenda and is the biggest source of uncertainty faced by people and business.  We know from the most recent poll that support for Scotland remaining inside the EU is strong, but the same cannot be said elsewhere in the UK.”

An IPSOS MORI poll conducted last year found that 53 per cent of people in Scotland would vote to remain in the EU compared to 34 per cent who would vote to leave.   YouGov polling produced this week showed that, for the first time in over a year, a majority of people said they would vote to stay in Europe in the event of a UK referendum on membership.  41 per cent of respondents said they would vote to stay which was marginally above those who would vote to leave with 39 per cent.

Earlier this week Labour leader Ed Miliband gave mixed messages on the party’s stance on an In/Out UK referendum.  Though initially suggesting one was “unlikely” with a Labour government, Mr Miliband then promised he would “guarantee” one if the UK’s relationship with the EU altered.

The Conservatives and UKIP are supportive of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU while Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg recently claimed his party were “now Britain’s only party of in” despite its similar stance to Labour on the issue.


2014-03-14 07:59

Barrosso is eyeing the top NATO job when he steps down later this year. Cosying up to Cameron is just all part of the canvassing he is doing to land the job. He will say whatever his hosts want him to say even although it is not based in fact. Good for a headline or two but that’s it.
Barrosso might never get to the top NATO job anyway as there are rumblings in Portugal which may well scupper that aspiration.
2014-03-14 08:13

This demonstrates how little research goes into ‘serious’ BBC programs and how devalued the interviews, by even the supposedly heavyweight journalists, have become.
Simply allowing Borroso’s comments to go through unexamined, with such important constitutional issues in the mix, has put the BBC into the 2nd or 3rd devision.
2014-03-14 09:11

A reply from his office which did not answer any of the four questions I asked.

President Barroso has asked me to answer to your email of 17 February. We have
taken good note of the views and concerns you express.

President Barroso made clear that his comments in response to a question in a TV
interview did not relate to the specific internal constitutional arrangements of
the UK or any other Member State. He expressed his respect for the ongoing
democratic process and recalled it is for the Scottish people and for the
British citizens to decide on the future of Scotland. President Barroso
reiterated the European Commission’s view in general terms, in line with the
responses given to several questions from the European Parliament as well as
from the UK House of Lords and the Scottish Government.
2014-03-14 09:32

Axelle Lemaire is good. Studiously remaining neutral and only speaking to those things she knows about and has experience of.

We have more than a few politicians who could learn a thing or two from that.
2014-03-14 09:41

I’m surprised the BBC didn’t seize on the ex-pats political representation and compare it to Scot’s abroad being denied the vote.
How ironic if an independent Scotland did the same, and offered Scots living in England representation in Scotland’s parliament.- After a YES result of course.

As ever, a foreign commentator also reveals her superb command of a second language. Perhaps one day our government spokespeople will be equally fluent in French or German, or maybe even Norwegian. I suppose it comes down to priorities and our schools learning what is culturally relevant and most enriching.
2014-03-14 11:39

[Perhaps one day our government spokespeople will be equally fluent in French or German, or maybe even Norwegian.]
Or aiblins even thair ain Scots an Gaelic leids that the British government spent millions on tryin tae kill aff atween 1850 an the late 1900’s.
2014-03-14 12:59

Aye, that an’aw.

2014-03-14 09:50

Once again Cameron found out to be interfering in Scotland’s constitutional future. Whether or not money passed between Cameron and Barosso, this is corruption and abuse of power at the highest level.

These two men have questions to answer and should be held to account or even punished for their transgressions.

I have no respect for Cameron as a politician, nor as a man, but now he is not just a threat to Scotland, but the rUK and the EU.
2014-03-14 10:21


In these replies the European Commission has noted that scenarios such as the
separation of one part of a Member State or the creation of a new state would
not be neutral as regards the EU Treaties. A new independent state would, by the
fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the
EU Treaties would no longer apply on its territory. Under Article 49 of the
Treaty on European Union, any European state which respects the principles set
out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union may apply to become a member of
the EU. If the application is accepted by the Council acting unanimously, an
agreement is then negotiated between the applicant state and the Member States
on the conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties which such
admission entails. This agreement is subject to ratification by all Member
States and the applicant state.
2014-03-14 10:44

RTP- your comment above says everything in it’s last three words – “the applicant state”. The dispute is whether Scotland would actually be an applicant state, since we are already members. If we assume Scotland would be an applicant state, then Barosso is probably correct. But the UK being an entity created by the union of two sovereign kingdoms will revert to it’s former 1707 state once the Act of Union is repealed, so if Scotland is an applicant state, then so too must England.
Won’t happen. We will change an existing membership, not create the myriad of problems from two new ones.
2014-03-14 11:17

Quoting RTP:

A new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the EU Treaties would no longer apply on its territory.

That, the Article 49 bit and avoidance of mentioning Article 48 is virtually a direct quote from Barroso’s letter to Lord Tugendhat of 10 December 2012. See…/…

As Breeks says, that is very far from certain. But aside from that, what the EC really don’t want to address is the situation of EU citizens of other states who find themselves resident outwith the EU. That’s the reason why an excuse will be found to use Article 48 irrespective of economic, fishing rights &c; arguments.


2014-03-14 11:07

I agree with you Breeks if the EU treat England as the continuator and Scotland as a new state it would sound the death knell for the democratic process in the EU,
and the alternative being the prospect of treating both countries as new entities would be a can of worms they would incredibly stupid to open,

no,real politic will take the place of dry legal argument, Scotland WILL retain membership but the EU need to be very careful Scotland has other options and we don’t need to be seen as a supplicant,if they start playing hard to get, we could just as easily tell them to cram it, we have power and its time we showed some teeth.
Marga B
2014-03-14 11:35

OT, but I hope people vote strong candidates in the European elections – now MSPs will have some say in who is president, it would lessen chances of sharks like this man, capable of trampling on democracy to get in line for a cushy job in NATO. Which for the good of the world let’s hope he doesn’t get.

There’s another serious issue in the sinister EU-US trade agreement about to be signed but not applicable for a year. Any European input to resist it would be vital.

Here’s Ken Clarke’ transparent denial – see comments.…/…
Jo Bloggs
2014-03-14 14:54

Marga, it’s not as if the figurehead has any power within NATO, otherwise George Robertson wouldn’t have landed the job. It’s simply a figleaf sinecure.

2014-03-14 11:37

I wonder if we will see this on the BBC.

It’s not like continuing EU membership isn’t a vitally important issue for Scotland.
2014-03-14 11:40

Meanwhile, according to the Herald, Cameron’s planning to tell the Edinburgh Tory Conference today:

Quoting Cameron:

And look at who’s laying out those consequences: the governor of the Bank of England, the president of the European Commission, business chiefs from companies like BP and Shell; Alliance Trust and RBS; Lloyds, Barclays – the list goes on.

These are not political puppets, they are serious, non-partisan figures. So, the idea that these are empty warnings and political scaremongering is a myth, and we owe it to the people of Scotland to take that myth apart.

My underlining above, although some of the other individuals identified are a bit dubious: Carney? Barclay’s? Consequences, yes but hardly warnings.

Project Fear is clearly still running at full throttle despite all polling evidence pointing to it having no significant effect.

2014-03-14 11:48

Will Cameron be addressing the Labour party conference in Scotland or will he just leave it to his hired help Darling ?
2014-03-14 12:46

Comical Ali seems at a loss nowadays without a script, so I suspect he will just regurgitate Cameron’s speech.

After all, there’s nothing in it on which they disagree.

The Herald seem to have prevented from capturing pages. If you have any views left the full article is at…/…

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