The president of the European Commission has stepped into the row about an independent Scotland's place in the European Union (EU) by saying all new states will have to apply.
Jose Manuel Barroso's comments contrast with the SNP's claim that Scotland would automatically become a member state if voters back independence in 2014.
Mr Barroso told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that he would not speculate now about possible secessions within existing states, such as the UK.
But he added: "To join the EU, yes, we have a procedure and it is a procedure in international law.
"A state has to be a democracy and has to apply to become a member of the EU. All the other member states have to give their consent. A new state, if it wants to join the EU, has to apply to become a member of the EU, like any state."
The Scottish Government argues that EU membership will continue but it is also claimed that a newly-independent country would have to negotiate re-entry.
With no definitive statement on Scotland's position, voters could be left in the dark until after the referendum in two years.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Our position is quite clear. Yes, there will have to be negotiations, the negotiations will take place from within the context of the European Union.
"The negotiations are about the representation Scotland will have and the rest of it."
A report by the House of Commons Library at Westminster previously set out the potential options for Scotland in the event of independence. As well as automatic or renegotiated entry for Scotland, it suggested the rest of the UK could be forced out by the dissolution of the Union.