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Nationhood for Scotland and Catalonia: a threat or an opportunity for the EU?

last modified Jul 24, 2015 11:31 AM

On 30 June 2015, The Forum on Geopolitics at the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge, supported by Diplocat, Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, and The Delegation of the Catalan Government in London hosted a colloquium "Nationhood for Scotland and Catalonia:
Threat or opportunity for the EU?". Videos of the conference presentations and keynote address are available here.

Catalonia and Scotland


The so-called 'Edinburgh Agreement' between David Cameron and Alex Salmond to allow a binding referendum on Scottish independence stands in sharp contrast with the Spanish government's outright opposition to allowing a similar vote in Catalonia. This highlights the distance between different conceptions of democracy coexisting within the European Union, which are rooted in the diverse political cultures of nations with different historical backgrounds.

The European project is faced with the democratic peaceful demands of Catalonia and Scotland willing to be recognized as nations within the EU. In so doing, they invoke the right to self-determination and adopt a pro-democracy and pro-European Union stand. This takes place at a time when the traditional nation-state is being challenged by transnational and global governance, a time in which belonging to the nation acquires a fundamental role in legitimizing the political aspirations of national minorities across Europe and beyond.


This colloquium explored whether the rise of demands for self-determination in Scotland and Catalonia unravels or in fact reinforces the trend towards greater European political integration by examining:

  • The key reasons that have prompted the shift from devolution to secession in both Scotland and Catalonia
  • The novel political structures and new social attachments that may emerge as a response to demands for self-determination
  • The novel instruments and actors leading political mobilisation and social change
  • The international consequences of secessionism in EU



Session One – Chair: Dr. Charles Jones

'The dangers of Catalan Secessionism'

– Dr. Jeff Miley, University of Cambridge

'The Opportunities of Catalan Secessionism'

– Professor Montserrat Guibernau, Queen Mary University of London

Session Two – Chair: Prof. David Runciman

'The consequences of the SNP results in the 2014 Referendum and their potential impact upon UK and EU politics'

– Professor David McCrone, University of Edinburgh

Session Three – Chair: Baroness Julie Smith

'Defense implications of Scottish and Catalan secessionism'

– Professor Malcolm Chalmers, RUSI

Session Four – Chair: Prof. Montserrat Guibernau

Keynote Address

– Mr Antoni Bassas, former Washington correspondent (2009-2013) for TV3; currently Journalist and Audiovisual Chief of Ara newspaper


With thanks to Diplocat: Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia for kind support of this event and a drinks reception.

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