Alyn Smith MEP has told BBC Radio Scotland that the SNP “can do business” with European Commission presidential candidate Jean-Claude Juncker, but has yet to decide whether to back his candidacy.
Juncker’s candidacy is expected to be confirmed by the European Council later today, despite strong opposition from Prime Minister David Cameron, who said Juncker was the “wrong person” for the job because he “has been at the heart of the project to increase the power of Brussels”.
Once selected as the official candidate, Juncker needs to be approved by a majority in the European Parliament to win the position.
Juncker is the preferred candidate of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), which won most seats in the EU elections last month.
Explaining his position, Smith praised Juncker for having “said sensible things about independence, not like his very unlamented predecessor”.
The outgoing EC president, José Manuel Barroso, made remarks critical of the Scottish independence movement and said an independent Scotland joining the EU would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible”.
But according to Smith, Juncker “has said that the independence process is entirely not a matter for the EU and the EU should respect any democratic vote”, which he characterised as a “sensible approach”.
He added: “We have not made our final decision on whether we will back him or not, but if he is the nominee I think we can do business with him.”
SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson also suggested this week that Cameron’s opposition to Juncker’s nomination was driven by a desire to “score points in the Westminster arena”.