Why Scottish independence matters for Europe

September 9, 2014

Should the EU head honchos in Brussels be quaking in their boots at the prospect of a less United Kingdom come September 18? The repercussions of a yes vote could cause a domino effect that may eventually lead to the break-up of the European Union.

This may seem dramatic, but how someone decides to vote in Glasgow could alter the course of modern history. The prospect of a not-so Great Britain could make it easier for the Conservatives to get re-elected at next year’s General Election. One of the Tories’ pledges, if they do get re-elected, is to hold a referendum on UK membership to the EU in 2017. Without a pro-EU Scottish voter base, there is a real chance that the UK could vote to leave the EU.

If the UK leaves the EU then this could make it hard for the Union to continue in its current form. It may seem that the UK and the EU are like an old married couple, continually picking at each other, but the UK holds an important position that is vital for keeping the Union alive.   It is a powerful counterbalance to Germany – the other powerhouse in the Union. France, the second largest economy in the EU, has proven itself unable to stand up to Germany. It is going through a duel political and economic crisis of its own, and harsh economic reforms could leave the government of France impotent for some time.

Without a counterbalance to Germany, will the other countries in the EU want to be ruled by Berlin? It seems highly unlikely. Considering a Greek threat to abandon the EU in 2012 as a result of German calls for austerity nearly caused the whole institution to collapse, Germany may not be the most popular leader of the whole project.

Aside from the German question, Scottish independence could add fuel to the Catalan independence movement in Spain. The Spanish government has resisted calls from the Catalan region to hold a nationally recognised referendum on independence, however, later this week supporters of independence will hold another street protest known as Catalan Way 2014, which is expected to occupy two main streets in Barcelona. This campaign started in 2013, with a 300-mile human chain, which moved throughout the Catalan region from Vallespir in France to Montsia in Spain. If Scotland succeeds in gaining independence, then it could add fuel to the Catalan’s fire calling for an independence vote, potentially leading to a damaging tussle with Madrid. If Spain can’t keep Catalonia, then why should Greece and Portugal endure EU-inspired austerity measures?

A break-up of any union is full of uncertainties and unknowns. If Scotland decides to go it alone, it could rip the very fabric that holds the European Union together. This is why the upper echelons in Brussels will be watching the outcome of the Scottish independence vote very carefully.



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