Gianni Pittella: "Scotland is better off in the EU as part of the UK"
"Scotland is part of Europe, there is no doubt about it. Though there is no doubt that being part of such a great and historic family as the United Kingdom has more advantages than disadvantages in Europe and in this global world. Therefore, we are deeply concerned about the prospect of a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum.
"If we look carefully at the destabilisation of the international scene all around us and at the deepening of the on-going economic crisis, it doesn't seem to us that abandoning the UK would turn out to be a wise step to take.
"It is clear Scotland’s admission to the EU will not be as automatic and easy as Yes supporters claim. It will take years. Scotland will have to apply to become a new member state and the accession will have to be approved by all other member states – a situation which will not be easy, especially when many countries are worried about the implications for independence movements at home.
"Having Scotland outside the European Union means the English-Scottish border becomes a customs frontier, with controls and tariffs. EU regional funding would end. Fishing rights would have to be re-negotiated from outside. And that is just the start of a very long list of disadvantages. An independent Scotland would have no automatic right to the various special treatments that the UK has been granted over the last few decades, from the budget rebate to having no obligation to join the euro or participate in the Schengen area of travel without frontier controls. No new member has been accorded such special treatment.
"What is more, are we really sure that the genuine interests of Scotland will be better advocated in the European and global context as a small and new independent state and not as part of bigger and internationally stronger United Kingdom? Scotland will be in a better position to fight for better conditions along with people in Wales, England and Northern Ireland who are all experiencing the same challenges.
"We deeply believe that a Scotland within the United Kingdom can give people greater hope.
Alex Salmond has failed to engage with the left of Europe; the SNP have not shown they are committed to making Scotland a more progressive country - with their friends in high business and commitment to cut corporation tax.
"The right battle should be for making UK an increasingly socially just country, rather than going alone and taking the risks that entails. We need a stronger Scotland in the UK to make a better and more effective Europe."