Separatism in Europe (4) – Political and Economic Implications

2014 will be a decisive year for separatist movements in Europe. A referendum on the independence of Scotland is scheduled for September. Catalonia’s government intends the same for November, but has to face strong opposition from Madrid. Belgian federal elections will be held in May, giving Flemish separatist sentiments opportunity to express themselves.

The blog series ‘Separatism in Europe’ will feature four posts analysing various ideational, political and economic aspects of separatist movement in Europe.

The final post in the series presents recent research on the political and economic implications with reference to eventually established new states. The  previous posts of the series looked at the characteristics of separatist movements, possible scenarios and EU membership.

Political and Economic Implications

Professor Roland Vaubel, in Economic Affairs 2013, argues that in case of secession “the winners gain more than the losers may lose”. The article further looks at the perspective of membership in international organizations, such as the EU and UN, for new states.

A study by Erika Forsberg, originally her Ph.D. at Uppsala University, now published in International Studies Quarterly 2013, examines the often-heard argument according to which territorial concessions to separatist groups may create “domino effects’. She finds that “data on territorial concessions globally, 1989–2004, provides no evidence of domino effects” both within and across borders.

The UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research, in its February 2014  journal, features a series of articles on the economic implications of Scottish independence, ranging from  economic and fiscal implications, currency options and public debt, funding pensions in an ageing society, and fiscal policy. The final article draws lessons for Scotland from the political economy of small European states.

On the political and security dimension, a Washington Quarterly  article by Malcolm Chalmers and William Walker discusses the possible implication of Scotland’s secession on UK nuclear deterrence and defense policy.

As can be expected, a strand of research draws comparisons with past secessions:  for example an article by Stefan Wolff and Annemarie Peen Rodt, in Europe-Asia 2013, examines available options for self-determination claims based on the Kosovo case;  Christopher J. Borgen, in Goettingen Journal of International Law 2010, undertakes a comparative analysis of separatism in Kosovo and Catalonia.

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