"[Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy told reporters, “The only thing that I would like is that Scots are realistic about the consequences of secession. It is clear to me that a region which asks for independence from a state within the European Union, will be left outside the EU.”
Scotland is engaging in a multi-year effort to secede from the United Kingdom by 2016. Other separatist movements, particularly the Catalonians in Spain, have been watching Scotland’s efforts carefully. If successful, Scotland’s independence would surely give confidence to other independence movements throughout the European Union and possibly the world.
Not all secessionist movements are the same however. There are many differences between Scotland and other separatists. First and foremost, Scotland is already a state which has its own legislature, while other independence movements are breakaway regions. Scotland is a semi-sovereign state (more than just a “region” as Rajoy suggests) with membership in two unions: the United Kingdom, and visa vie the UK, the European Union. The big question here is- if Scotland dissolves its union with with the rest of the UK will it also dissolve its union with the EU? The Spanish Prime Minister says yes, but the article does not go into detail about Rajoy’s argument about why. Would not it be possible for Scotland to withdraw from one union but not the other? Or is it that since Scotland’s membership in the EU is through its membership in the UK, withdrawing from the UK also means withdrawing from the EU?
This story has many interesting implications for the United States as well. Within the US there are a number of secessionist movements, some want total independence while others only want to secede from their existing state while retaining membership in the United States. Most recently, the efforts to create North Colorado have been making headlines. Prime Minister Rajoy’s line of thinking about Scotland’s continued membership in the EU suggest that it could be possible for proposed states like North Colorado to separate themselves from their current state, but in doing so they may also dissolve their union with the United States. What if people in North Colorado vote to separate from Colorado and the rest of Colorado votes to let them secede, but the US congress does not approve them as a new state? Would North Colorado then be independent of both Colorado and the US? Or would their independence efforts simply fail forcing a return to the status quo?