What Europe’s newsdesks are saying about #ScotRef

Nathanael Williams

We bring you the analysis and perspective of press from all across Europe as Scotland gears up for #ScotRef

THE EUROPEAN PRESS had a varied but largely enthusiastic reaction to the announcement yesterday (13 March) that Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, would next week seek to gain agreement from Holyrood to prepare for a second independence referendum.

We look at the analysis, solidairty and caution from news and commentators across the European Union.

1.) The cause is Brexit and nothing else

There is a clear understanding in the European press, especially France, that the cause of the proposed second Scottish independence referendum is the UK Government’s policy of pushing for a hard Brexit. French analysts also commented that the first minister’s announcement would have severe consequences for the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

2.) Uncertainty in Europe

The French paper, La Tribune, asked if the move towards independence might not be as simple as some in France, Europe or the UK believe. It’s coverage pointed to uncertainty around the reaction of the UK Government, and its stance position in EU negotiations affecting the prospects of any future referendum. Some press in France are still raising the possibility of Scotland being blocked from continuing EU membership by Spanish veto power, despite Spanish MEPs confirming earlier this month that no such action was being contemplated.

3.) Optimism for #ScotRef

L’Unità, an Italian publication, led with the statement, “this time…they might win” in an article that expressed optimism about the case for independence and shed light on the “pro-European” credentials of the Scottish Government.

4.) Germans interest and doubts

The news in Germany was focused on reporting what Sturgeon said as opposed to the response by May. There was considerable interest in Brexit as the main cause of a referendum but also detail of the legal difficulties to come. The German outlet Heute questioned wether the UK Government would dare block another independence referendum.

5.) The end of the UK and historic shock

Although more commentators across the Channel understand the political dynamic that has driven increased interest in Scottish independence, there remains a shock at what the consequences for Brexit and independence will mean. Many German commentators are beginning to grasp the idea of a new political reality that will remake Europe and their relationship with Scotland and a rump UK.

Jochen Buchensteiner of the Frankfurter Allgemeine has framed the situation as increased pressure for May and a burden for a UK state under constant attack.

6.) It’s all about the timing

The Swedish journal DN.ekonomi looked to the timing the Scottish Government might choose as #ScotRef edges closer. They observed, as stated by the first minister, that it would be better for Scotland to launch a second referendum before being dragged out of the EU. There were also mentions for the Scottish Greens, who are recognised in Sweden as players in their own right.

7.) A democratic perspective

Polish press had a wide ranging response, however many papers did concentrate on the democratic case made by the first minister, in emphasising to their readers that the Scottish Government had gone out of its way to make compromises with the UK Government over the EU.

8.) Two kinds of separation

ABC International from Spain led with the comments from the first minister on the “instransigence of the UK Government” and “lack of compromise” but also compaired an independence referendum with the case for Brexit. In their editorial view separation was separation, but that did not stop the paper’s analysis covering the nuanced points of pro-European feeling in Scotland as a marker of the Yes campaign.

Picture courtesy of France1, CATAXLOT, predz, red marcin, Karl Ludwig Poggemman

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