September 20, 2014
Since the debate over Scotland stirred up and the insinuations with similar cases started to formulate (e.g. Catalunia, Corse, or even Transnistria) I could hardly see any positive relation with the Scotland being completely independent as a sovereign state – and therefore as candidate member-state for the EU, the possible turbulence of British and Scottish pound in the global market, the way these two separate states would live with each other in a number of issues that would surface. Especially in this period of time for the European Union, such a development would possibly be destructive in various ways for the EU, Britain and Scotland itself – even if the YES side had a strong saying on Scotland’s sufficiency on building its future alone.
On the other hand, the outcome of the referendum brought about – or it is going to bring about- significant changes for the other members of the Kingdom as well, like the Wales and Northern Ireland. In the months to come PM David Cameron is expected to address such concerns / developments and capitalize the profits of “NO” both in terms of his leadership as well as for the people of the UK.
The second thing to point out is that in any case, the referendum itself brought a significant evolution on the way social and political demands should be addressed. In the EU we have hardly enjoyed the power of direct democracy as the Scots did last Thursday. We have hardly given to the people of Europe the right to respond massively in issues that concern their future. In this respect, it is also vital to highlight how interesting and articulating was the political debate and the arguments of both sides in the case of Scotland. We still believe that representative democracy is the means of absolute expression of the people, but we still miss that there are other means of democratic participation other than a 5-year round elections that can definitely bring more enthusiasm and be more didactic for both the electorate and decision-makers.
To that end, I do reckon that the referendum in Scotland was of paramount importance for the EU and its constituencies. But from that point, we need also to ponder upon the correlation between this referendum and other ones that might take place in the near future for cases allegedly similar to Scotland. If we still believe, as Europeans, that the EU or each of the member-states cannot work together and address the concerns of our era in smaller units -meaning through the split of the current sovereign states without vital or insurmountable burdens to deal with- with decreased powers and more prone to indecisiveness, then we can no longer exist together. Those who were correlating the case of Scotland with that of Kosovo or BiH or even Catalunia, have nothing else in mind than the thirst to see the EU being drawn into new adventures of illegitimacy and instability. It is different to let the people decide what their fate might be through a referendum and different to hope for partition.
As citizens of the EU we need to stick together and fight together for a better future, no matter how hard this process might be. It only takes to see what other states face in adjacent regions when not embarked in a democratic Union of states. From Ukraine to Argentina, we can assess the merits of being part of a club of states that need to support and co-exist with each other, even if some member-states exert more power than others. In this respect, and with reference to Scotland’s referendum, our goal is this: to strengthen democracy and citizen’s participation in the EU, try to improve the wrongdoings of policy-making, and understand that we are living in multicultural societies where compromise and accommodation of different needs have to be preserved and negotiated. Not to fall apart.Dimitris Rapidis