The New York Times – The Inconvenient Truth About Seceding States

There are now serious secessionist movements in Europe. Flanders nationalists have won electoral pluralities. Catalonia will hold early elections on Nov. 25, and the Nationalist Coalition is well in the lead. The Edinburgh Agreement of Oct. 15 provides for a referendum on Scottish independence before December 2014.

Spain is the real problem. Driven by economic stress, nationalism has flared quickly in Catalonia. The Spanish response has been very firm: a referendum would be “illegal” and secession is “madness.” But a referendum will come, given that 80 percent of Catalans want one.

The E.U. could not change the accession rule to stop a Spanish veto of Catalan membership. Nor could it declare that its treaties cover Catalonia, because the institutional arrangements would have to change. Were Catalonia to secede, the only solution is that Spanish self-interest prevails so that severe disruption to its own economy is avoided. Spain would not block Catalonia’s admission to the Union — and to ensure this result, all the leverage of the E.U. would be brought to bear.

Whatever inconveniences would result from having more member states, the interest of the E.U. would lie in admitting the seceding states.

Read @ The New York Times