Charlemagne: Homage to Caledonia

DAVID CAMERON has won few friends with his demands to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union. But there is one place where he is admired: Catalonia. This is not because he wants a referendum on EU membership, but because he is letting Scotland vote in September on independence from the United Kingdom. The Catalans plan their own ballot two months later, although Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has vowed to stop it. Proof, say Catalan nationalists, of Britain’s deep democracy and Spain’s lingering authoritarianism.Romantics see parallels in the fate of Scotland and Catalonia, both small nations merged into larger kingdoms in the early 1700s that now seek to rule themselves. Other governments are nervous. If Scotland or Catalonia become independent, why not the Basque Country, Flanders, Corsica, or even Bavaria?Senior leaders in Brussels have taken to issuing increasingly blunt warnings to would-be breakaways. Speaking in Madrid in December, on the day when Catalonia fixed a date for its referendum, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, said any secessionist region would be treated as a new country, to which the EU’s…

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