European Union leaders have welcomed Scotland's rejection of a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. The decision has eased fears of growing separatist sentiment in the bloc.
The European Union stayed neutral throughout the run-up to Scotland's independence referendum, the results of which were released on Friday. Following Scottish voters' decision to remain part of the United Kingdom, many European leaders expressed relief.
European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso had drawn the ire of Scottish secessionist supporters after saying an independent Scotland would have difficulty joining the EU. He welcomed the result of Thursday's referendum, calling it a boost for a "united, open and stronger Europe."
Friday's outcome means Britain "is and will remain an important member of the European Union to the benefit of all citizens and member states," said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said he was "relieved" by the outcome of the vote.
"I admit, I am relieved about the result," he told Deutschlandfunk radio. "The next time I meet [British Prime Minister] David Cameron, I'll tell him that I like a United Kingdom in a united Europe."
'Good decision' for Europe
Germany's foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called Scotland's "No" to independence "a good decision for Scotland, Britain and also for Europe."
"The election result speaks for itself: the people want a strong Scotland in a strong Britain," he said ahead of a trip to the United Nations in New York.
Spain's leadership also breathed a sigh of relief on Friday. The country is currently dealing with its own separatist sentiment in Catalonia, a movement that has drawn inspiration from Scotland.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Scots had "chosen the most favorable option for everyone; for themselves, for all of Britain and for the rest of Europe."
"The Scottish have avoided serious economic, social and political consequences," he said.
NATO countries, including the United States, had expressed concern over the potential breakup of the UK, as Britain's nuclear missile force is located in Scotland.
"The United Kingdom is a founding member of NATO and I am confident that the United Kingdom will continue to play a leading role to keep our Alliance strong," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement. "I welcome Prime Minister Cameron's statement that the United Kingdom will go forward as a united country."
dr/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)