Would-be splitters

On October 15 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond signed a 30-clause agreement granting the Scottish government the power to hold a referendum on independence before the end of 2014. Also on October 15, the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya Artur Mas i Gavarró threatened to draw the European Union into its independence row with Spain, after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced he would block the referendum on independence that Mas plans to hold during a four-year term that starts after regional elections on November 25. On October 14, at the Belgian provincial and municipal elections, Bart De Wever’s separatist NV-A party made sweeping gains throughout northern Flanders, and De Wever himself won the race to become mayor of Antwerp, Europe’s second biggest port city. On October 13, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) chairman Íñigo Urkullu Renteria, candidate to head the Basque government in upcoming elections to the Basque Parliament on October 212012, responded to Rajoy that he has no project for Basque independence in the immediate future, but that the Basque nationalism is not the devil. Both Mas and Urkullu praised the “Scottish way” and the example of the British democracy.  
These are all different situations. Scotland had a long existence as an Independent state, but at present its linguistic assimilation into the English is quite complete: just 1% of the population of Scotland can speak Gaelic, even if 85% Scotland’s adult population speaks a Scots dialectal variety of English. On the contrary, roughly 94% of the population of Flanders speaks Flemish, 48% of the population of the Basque Country speaks Basque and 47% of the population of Catalonia speaks Catalan. But historically neither Flanders nor Catalonia and the Basque Country has a history of independence, even though they have long held strong nationalist feelings. Yet due to the continent’s economic crisis, moves toward separatism in the EU have been getting more attention.