Scottish independence talks offer lessons for Catalonia, politics professor says
There would be “nothing to prevent” Scotland from joining the EU after independence, but it could involve “difficult negotiations”, according to a political analyst.
Niklas Bremberg, associate professor of political science at Stockholm University, also said the process by which Scotland could leave the UK could set an important precedent for other places like Catalonia.
Speaking ahead of the launch of a book comparing Catalonia and Scotland, Bremberg said the process by which either location could potentially gain independence would be “extremely important”.
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He said: “Not just for Catalonia in the event Scotland go first, or for Scotland in the event Catalonia go first.
“But it would also be important for other places across Europe in terms of how it would be a negotiated process – where there would be a clear outcome of a referendum that would lead to a negotiated process, where it would also be clear the result would take into account people who are not in favor of independence.
“That would be the key thing to focus on – the process in which independence would be achieved, which would have a huge impact.”
Bremberg and co-author Richard Gillespie, from the University of Liverpool, will launch “Catalonia, Scotland and the EU: Visions of Independence and Integration” tomorrow at an online event organized by the Center on the constitutional change of the University of Edinburgh.
Bremberg said that if Scotland became an independent country and sought to join the EU, there could be certain issues around which there would be “difficult negotiations”.
“Scotland would now be in a weaker position to secure withdrawals, for example from euro membership, or other EU policy areas that some actors in Scotland might want to see withdrawals from” , did he declare.
“If Scotland became independent and applied for EU membership, I wouldn’t see anything stopping that from happening.
“But it could be that in terms of how Scotland enters the EU, they would have less clout.”
Bremberg said Scotland appeared to have learned the lessons of the unilateral push in Catalonia “not being welcomed” by the international community.
A symbolic vote organized in Catalonia in November 2014 took place in defiance of the Spanish Constitutional Court which declared the vote illegal.
In 2017, the pro-independence parties managed to pass a law for a full referendum in the regional parliament, which was again banned by the Spanish Constitutional Court. The poll was marred by violence as Spanish police used force to try to arrest him.
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“It’s very clear that very few important players in the EU and Europe as a whole were in favor of the unilateral moves we saw in Catalonia,” Bremberg said.
“The feeling that some actors in Catalonia were pushing for independence unilaterally and against the rule of law and without first seeking constitutional change.
“It was something that was very badly perceived. I think that’s of course something the SNP leaders and people in Scotland appreciate and know about.
He said a common theme linking the independence movements of Scotland and Catalonia was the idea of a nation held back by constitutional arrangements.
“A lot of people who support independence in these two places also do so because they align or think of independence as a way to pursue a different political project,” he added.
“There, the issue of democracy and self-determination becomes more important, rather than a sense of ‘private nation’.”
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Bremberg said it was difficult to see the path by which Catalonia could achieve independence.
“At least in the Scottish case, you can always go back to the 1707 treaty and say there’s a way the UK was made and there’s a way it could be undone,” he said. he declared.
“In Catalonia it’s harder to see that – the history and the way the Spanish constitution is set up at the moment, it allows fewer opportunities in that sense.
“From a very general point of view, you could see that the road to Scottish independence would be easier if a negotiated settlement could be agreed between Edinburgh and London.”