The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Scotland the Brave Once Again Shot Down by EU

The Scottish National Party doesn’t seem to get it. Months after European Commission President José Manuel Barroso pointed out that an independent Scotland would not automatically gain entrance to the EU, Scottish politicians are still trying to convince everyone that the EU has got it all wrong.

This week Barroso yet again warned the hopeful Scots that they would have to re-apply for membership—which surely means that the several EU states that are fending off independence movements of their own would impose tough terms and make Scotland sweat as an example to their own wanna-bes. Either oblivious to the political realities or hoping that the voters aren’t very smart, the Scots are urging EU leaders to hold “early talks” on their independence:

[The Scottish government] has always maintained that, in the event of a “yes” vote, Scotland would “quite clearly” remain part of the European Union and negotiations would take place “from within that context”.

Responding to Mr Barroso’s intervention—described by Prime Minister David Cameron as “significant”—Ms Sturgeon said the SNP government did not agree that an independent Scotland would have to reapply for European Union membership.

She said early talks were now being sought with the European Commission to discuss the specific process of Scotland becoming independent.

In the minds of the Scots, the EU is still the nice, welcoming organization of the 1990s that seeks to extend its comforting umbrella to as many members as possible, handing out money and privileges to the periphery. Those days are long gone. The EU of 2012 is an organization fighting for its life, and it’s definitely not looking to stir the pot by sanctioning national independence movements. Furthermore, those wary of German dominance of the EU don’t want to see the UK weakened by a Scottish spin-off.

In the end, the whole thing will likely be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot. The Scottish public is more practical than are its politicians. Polls suggest that only one-third of the Scottish public supports independence, and if it begins to look like separation is a real possibility, this number is likely to fall further as the public confronts the inevitable ramifications of a split. Support in England for a split, however, might be another story.

Published on December 12, 2012 7:00 pm