In the strongest and most apocalyptic intervention from Europe to date in the increasingly divisive Scottish debate, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told parliament in Madrid that all of the EU’s leaders were aghast at the idea of an independent Scotland.
Seeking to contain his own separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country, Rajoy did not say he would block a Scottish bid to join the EU and pointed to the differences between the UK and Spain. But he made it plain he viewed Alex Salmond’s hopes or declarations concerning an 18-month transition to Scottish membership of the EU as a pipe dream, views echoed less stridently by senior policymakers in Brussels.
Scottish secession would be a catastrophe, declared the Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo. “It would start a process of Balkanisation that nobody in Europe wants.”
Rajoy underlined the extent of EU elite’s opposition to an independent Scotland. “Everyone in Europe thinks that these processes are tremendously negative because they generate economic recessions and more poverty for everyone,” he said. Scottish secession would be a “torpedo to the vulnerabilities of the EU, which was created to integrate states, not to fragment them. Strong states are what’s needed today.”
Probably too late to have a substantive impact on the referendum but I suspect it will form part of an EU-wide plan to take easy access to the EU off the table for any breakaway entity. Thus it will influence the longer term debate in Scotland.