Independent Scotland will affect EU

Independent Scotland will affect EU (credit: Emily Giedzinski/) Independent Scotland will affect EU (credit: Emily Giedzinski/)
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This Thursday, Scotland will vote on whether to become an independent country. This is not the first time such a referendum has occurred, but it seems to be the first time that it has a chance of passing.

Recent polls show a near 50–50 split among Scottish voters. If the measure passes, Scotland would separate from the United Kingdom (UK), thus breaking a union with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland that has existed since 1707.

United States media coverage has been scant, but the consequences could be significant either way. An independent Scotland would need to apply to the European Union (EU), and the new United Kingdom would be significantly weaker as an economic power. The Economist warns that this would weaken the EU as a whole, since the UK is already promoting a referendum to leave the EU itself.

If Scotland were to become a sovereign nation, there would be an immediate currency issue since it currently uses the British pound. Most EU countries use the euro, but Scotland would generally have to be approved for EU membership before it could start using the euro.

Leaders from the “Yes Scotland” campaign say that an independent Scotland would continue using the pound, but foreign investors worry that without support from the UK the Scottish pound would lack financial backing.

In terms of representation, an independent Scotland would have its own governing body. Scotland votes consistently more liberally than the rest of the UK, so it would be able to represent its people with more authority, instead of being confined to a liberal minority of the UK Parliament. Scotland would also make domestic decisions independently. For example, Scots generally oppose nuclear weapons, but the UK stores its nuclear weapons in Scottish lochs. An independent Scotland would likely become an anti-nuclear state.

Even if the referendum falls short, the British will have to revisit their relations with Scotland. Issues such as national defense and economic security will have to be brought into question if the countries remain united, but Scotland will probably get more autonomy within the United Kingdom.

No matter which way the vote goes, the result of the Scottish referendum will set a precedent for the rest of Europe. Other semi-autonomous regions — the Catalan and Basque regions of Spain, the Flemish regions of Belgium — have unsuccessfully attempted to break away before. If Scotland succeeds now, we may see a new precedent for European independence.