Senior members of the Spanish parliament's committee on the European Union have told BuzzFeed News that Spain will not seek to block Scotland from joining the EU if it becomes independent from the UK.
Spain has repeatedly been pointed to as a stumbling block for Nicola Sturgeon's ultimate goal of an independent Scotland joining the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA) on the basis that the government in Madrid would not allow anything that could boost the independence movement in Catalonia.
However, two members of Spain's joint committee on the EU told BuzzFeed News that those familiar with the two situations in Scotland and Catalonia are aware that they are totally different and the members could not foresee any reason why Spain would stop an independent Scotland joining the EU.
While the members do not speak for the Spanish government, the EU committee as a whole provides the government with advice on how to deal with issues within the EU such as how it implements European law into its national law and the approach it should take on new EU members.
Fernando Maura MEP, one of the committee's spokespeople, told BuzzFeed News the situations in Catalonia and Scotland are "very different" and, when asked if Spain would seek to block an independent Scotland from joining the EU, responded: "No, not at all."
Maura went on: "The difference between Spain and the UK is the constitutional system. In the UK, there is no constitution to say Scotland cannot leave the United Kingdom or have self-determination. This is not the case in Spain, there is not this possibility.
"If Scotland is independent from the United Kingdom, Scotland can negotiate with the European Union to become part of it. If that’s the case, Spain has not anything to do but negotiate in terms of our interests."
Maura added: "If the UK leaves the EU, Scotland in one moment can be part of the EU if Scotland has independence from the UK. It will be a sovereign state."
A spokesperson for the vice chair of the Spanish parliament's EU committee, Jose Cano, told BuzzFeed News that, while the Scottish government is unable to negotiate with any EU member state while it's part of the UK, he was sceptical of claims that Spain would block an independent Scotland's future entry.
"I have never read such comments from any Spanish political leader," said the spokesperson. "If Scotland gets its independence, in a legal referendum in the United Kingdom, if that is legitimate then Scotland will claim independence and be accepted by the international community.
"If that happens, then the discussion will be whether Scotland should or shouldn’t join the EU. In that case, Spain would have nothing to complain about at all."
However, another Spanish MEP told a Scottish government minister on Monday that if Scotland became independent and applied to become a member of the EU, it would have to "join the queue after Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, Turkey", adding that "rules are the rules".
A spokesperson for the Spanish government's ministry for foreign affairs made it clear to BuzzFeed News that they will not negotiate with Scotland while it is not independent and "if the United Kingdom leaves, Scotland is leaving".
However, while the spokesperson did not wish to comment on "internal issues regarding other member states" of the EU, they went on to say an independent Scotland joining would be considered like any other potential member.
"If your hypothesis were to arise, Spain would act in the same way that it has done with all the candidacies that have been presented in the different stages of EU enlargement," said the spokesperson.
"Spain would examine the issue in the light of the EU treaties, bearing in mind the interest of the Union as a whole, the common values that bind us all together ... and the legitimate defence of the interests of Spain and its citizens."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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