Former European Council president Donald Tusk has said Scotland would be welcomed into Europe “enthusiastically” if it won independence from the rest of the UK – but the process of rejoining would not be automatic.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Tusk said he felt “very Scottish” following Brexit, adding that Scotland would be treated with “empathy” if they gain independence and look for a place at the EU table.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has signalled an intention to rejoin the European Union as a member should Scotland leave the UK, however her opponents have said there is no guaranteed access to the bloc.
On 31 January, German MEP and European Greens co-president Ska Keller told the PA news agency it would be “stupid” of the 27 EU member states to veto the membership of an independent Scotland.
The comments from Tusk come after a YouGov poll which showed 51% support for independence – a majority for the first time in five years.
However, a majority of Scots surveyed also said they would not like to see another vote on the issue in 2020 or 2021, but most said they would like to see another referendum within the next five years.
Tusk was initially reluctant to comment on Scotland’s place in Europe, saying he would like to respect the “sovereignty” of the UK – a major issue during the Brexit campaign.
He said: “I want to stop myself from saying something too blunt.
“But sometimes I feel like I’m a Scot – I feel like I’m Scottish, especially after Brexit.
“But at the same time, I know how important the word sovereignty and integrity were in the internal debate in the United Kingdom.
“I feel like it is not my role to intervene.”
However, the Polish politician did expand on his feelings towards an independent Scotland – and his thoughts on how other member states may react.
Tusk said: “Emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic here in Brussels, and more generally in Europe.
“If you ask me about our emotions, you will witness I think always empathy.”
Despite his claims of countries welcoming Scotland in, Tusk said there would still be a process of application for any country to re-enter the EU.
He said: “If something like, for example, the independence of Scotland happens, then we need a regular process.
“It would be a new process.”
In the 2016 Brexit referendum, 62% of Scottish voters voted to stay in the EU.
Tusk’s comments come just days after the UK left the European Union and the first minister announced plans to “ramp up” the campaign for independence.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.