Backers of Scottish independence just got a face full of cold water from Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission. If Scotland leaves the UK, he said, it would not automatically convert into an EU member state. It would have to reapply, and since Denmark and the UK are the only countries with the right to stay out of the Euro, an independent Scotland would have to commit to adopting the continent’s most loathed currency, and all the policies that go with it.
Scottish independence leaders have been assuring their countrymen that the transition to independence would be smooth. Clearly, it won’t be. And they are deceiving themselves if they think anybody with authority in Europe will help them.
What the Scottish nationalists seem too dim to have figured out is this: The EU is a club of countries, and many countries besides the UK face secession movements. None of the central governments want to encourage breakups because they all fear the fever will spread. The EU is going to put every possible pitfall in the way of secessionist movements everywhere in Europe, and it’s likely to take a very tough line in negotiations with breakaway countries as a way of discouraging other restive regions in other parts of the continent from getting too frisky.