The debate over whether Scotland can join the EU and how long the country should wait has been fierce in Holyrood. The SNP lashed out at the UK’s decision to vote for Brexit and called for a second independence referendum in hopes Scotland can return to Brussels as a member state of the EU. Spain is a European country at the center of the debate – where its own struggles with Catalonia over independence have raised fears that Madrid block Ms Sturgeon’s European plans. This was highlighted when Spain’s conservative MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons warned Scotland’s deficit could prove costly.
Last year he said: â€œIt is obvious that the Scottish figures are not what the European Union expects from countries which want to become members.
â€œThe numbers are a long way from the European numbers – very, very, very far. It would be a problem.
A week earlier, it was revealed that Scotland’s deficit stood at Â£ 12.6 billion, or 7% of GDP.
When countries apply for EU membership, the bloc’s Copenhagen criteria require the deficit to remain below 3% of GDP.
Data released in August 2020 showed Scotland’s budget deficit to hit Â£ 15 billion in 2019-20, or nearly Â£ 2,000 per person.
The Scottish Government’s annual expenditure and revenue report (GERS) found Scotland’s budget deficit for 2019-2020 to be 8.6% of GDP, down from 7.4% the previous year.
However, countries can agree to work towards this figure while entering the EU.
Croatia did so after joining the bloc in 2013 – but had to accept austerity measures.
Another boost for Ms Sturgeon came in 2019, when another figure in Madrid said he would not veto Scotland’s EU membership after trade unionists warned that Madrid would block entry to Scotland.
The Spanish Consul General in Edinburgh, Miguel Angel Vecino Quintana, confirmed that Spain “will not block Scotland’s entry into the European Union if independence is legally obtained”.
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“And this time independence would be different, because in 2014 Scotland would have left the UK and the EU at the same time.
â€œNow Scotland is leaving a small union to join a bigger union. “
He also praised Ms Sturgeon personally, naming her as a potential future candidate for the presidency of the European Commission.
He continued: â€œNicola Sturgeon comes across as a genuine, politically astute and trustworthy person, while Boris Johnson comes across as someone you cannot trust very quickly.
“I can imagine Nicola Sturgeon as President of the European Commission, she seems to be much closer to the center of gravity of European politics than Boris Johnson is.”