Scotland decides: EU hails Scotland vote as boost for 'united' Europe

Supporters from the "No" Campaign celebrate in Edinburgh, Scotland on Sept 19, 2014. European Union leaders hailed Scotland's rejection of independence on Friday, saying the vote will help strengthen and unite the 28-member bloc. -- PHOTO: REUTE
Supporters from the "No" Campaign celebrate in Edinburgh, Scotland on Sept 19, 2014. European Union leaders hailed Scotland's rejection of independence on Friday, saying the vote will help strengthen and unite the 28-member bloc. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (AFP) - European Union leaders hailed Scotland's rejection of independence on Friday, saying the vote will help strengthen and unite the 28-member bloc.

"I welcome the decision of the Scottish people to maintain the unity of the United Kingdom," European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said.

"This outcome is good for the united, open and stronger Europe that the European Commission stands for," Mr Barroso said in a statement.

EU president Herman Van Rompuy said the outcome meant Britain "is and will remain an important member of the European Union to the benefit of all citizens and member states."

Neither Mr Van Rompuy nor Mr Barroso referred to the "In-Out" referendum on EU membership promised by British premier David Cameron for 2017 but Brussels is watching developments on that count carefully, stressing repeatedly how important the country is to the overall success of the bloc.

Mr Barroso, who heads the EU's executive arm, said it would carry on a "constructive dialogue" with Scotland, which has limited self-rule powers but is now likely to get more, after voters said no to ending the 307-year-old union.

He said the commission welcomed the fact that during the independence debate "the Scottish Government and the Scottish people have repeatedly reaffirmed their European commitment."

"The European Commission will continue to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Scottish Government, in areas under its responsibility, that are important to Scotland's future, including jobs and growth, energy, climate change and the environment, and smarter regulation."

Mr Barroso had previously warned Scotland that it would have to reapply for membership of the EU if it became an independent state, and angered Scottish nationalists by saying that the process would likely be difficult.