THE leaders of Catalonia and Flanders have joined forces to ask the EU to find a way for their countries to  stay in the bloc if they become independent.

Quim Torra and Jan Jambon want to see "mechanisms that could allow the integration of new independent states born by democratic means" in to the union.

In a joint statement, the leaders said they believe in a Scottish solution to their aspirations for their nations to split from Spain and Belgium respectively. 

Mr Torra - whose predecessor lives in exile in Belgium to escape a Spanish arrest warrant - repeated his calls for "an agreed referendum like that of Scotland" in Catalonia. 

Catalan and Spanish observers have noted that Mr Torra has moved away from Slovene style to Scottish style independence.

The Catalan government held an independence referendum in 2017 without the permission of the Spanish authorities.  This plebiscite was ruled illegal and its organisers were jailed or forced to flee the country.

A Spanish crackdown has seen support for independence fall. The latest poll, according to the Barcelona newspaper El Periodico, measured backing for independence at 42% and opposition at 48. Polls and surveys have fluctuated in recent years with independence trumping staying in Spain as recently as early this year.