Alex Salmond's dream of an independent Scotland suffered a massive blow as it was revealed the new, break-away country would have to re-apply for EU membership.

Salmond's government have long claimed that Scotland would automatically remain a member of the EU, a claim which has formed a key part of his campaign in the run-up to a 2014 referendum on independence.

According the the Scotsman however, the European Commission, the EU's executive body, has written to the House of Lords economic affairs committee stating that this is not the case.

eu accession

The letter puts Salmond in a very awkward position, effectively neutralising his independence stance

The letter says: “If a territory of a member state ceases to be part of that member state because it has become an independent state then the treaties would cease to apply to that territory.”

Scotland would become a "third country", one which would have to go through the usual application processes for EU membership in line with the Lisbon Treaty.

Johann Lamont MSP, Scottish Labour Party Leader, said: "Alex Salmond makes it up as he goes along.

"He claimed for months he had sought legal advice on an independent Scotland’s place in the EU and then had to admit he hadn’t.

"The effect of that on Scotland could be devastating. Scotland could be forced to join the Euro as all new entrants have to.

Scotland could face stiff resistance to EU membership from an unlikely source.

To become a member, a prospective state must have a treaty of accession ratified by each member of the EU.

In addition, each long-standing EU state also wields a veto including Spain which is currently dealing with it's own separatist movement in Catalonia.

Paul Preston, Professor in International History at the LSE, told the Huffington Post UK: "On the basis of the venom towards Catalonia emanating from Madrid, it is reasonable to suppose that Spain would not vote in favour of Scotland as a way of sending a message to the Catalan independence movement."

Another headache for Salmond would be that EU accession typically takes years, not months.

Croatia will have waited over a decade from accession submission to full membership next year.