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Breakaway regions lose EU status, European Commission confirms

Message by EC president's spokesman is aimed at Catalonia's secessionist leaders

Press conference by EC spokesman Margaritis Schinas

The European Commission on Thursday reiterated that if part of a member state breaks away, it  automatically falls outside the European Union.

The message was aimed at Catalonia, whose nationalist leaders are threatening to declare unilateral independence if they win an absolute majority of seats at the regional election on September 27.

A newly independent region by the fact of its independence would become a third country with respect to the Union”

“If part of a member state ceases to be part of that state, because of the territory becoming an independent state, the [EU] treaties would no longer apply to that territory,” said Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, at a press conference on Thursday.

Schinas said that Juncker maintains the line first formulated in 2004 by then-Commission chief Romano Prodi, at a time when several Eastern European members were joining the union.

Both Prodi and his successor Jose Manuel Durao Barroso systematically defended that this is Brussels’ position, and Juncker made similar statements during the campaign run to the European elections of May 2014.

With 10 days to go to the Catalan elections, Juncker’s spokesman stuck to this position.

“A newly independent region by the fact of its independence would become a third country with respect to the Union, and may apply to become a member of the Union,” said Schinas.

In recent months, European leaders have made it clear that a one-sided declaration of independence would force Catalonia out of the EU and put it last in the line of membership applicants, as UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently noted during a visit to Madrid.

English version by Susana Urra.

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