The Disunited States of Europe

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by Vivienne Walt,

from Fortune Magazine,

Scottish voters decide this month whether to split from Britain. Catalans in Spain have called for their own independence vote soon. Can the continent weather the separatist storm?

“Scotland has been a nation for a very long time,” says Duncan Ross, a professor of economic history at the University of Glasgow. “We should have the right to decide how to rule ourselves.”

Perhaps so. Yet for Europe the question is, At what price? The intense nervousness over how the Scots might vote extends far beyond the territory’s rugged mountains. Many in Europe fear that Scotland’s independence fervor could ripple across the continent, where a number of separatist campaigns have simmered for years. The hotspots range from the mountainous Basque region at the border of Spain and France to the Mediterranean island of Corsica to the lowlands of Belgium, where many in the Flemish majority want to say tot ziens to their French-speaking countrymen.

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