A referendum on whether Scotland will remain in the United Kingdom, or become an independent country will take place on Thursday 18 September. In recent weeks the independence movement have gained momentum and may actually win. However no matter if the United Kingdom breaks apart or remains united, all parts of the UK will remain within the European Union.
The European Union currently consists of 28 member states and in total about 250 regions from the wider Europe, stretching from the Azores to Tartarstan, from Norrbotten to Sicily. Within the EU, the regions have gained importance under the Lisbon Treaty and the European Commission now has to consult on policy with local and regional authorities and their associations across the EU as early as in the pre-legislative phase.
The regions are defined as directly-elected sub-national authorities at the level immediately below the central state. Led by regional and local Place Managers, they are living out the practicalities of European integration on a daily basis. They form the building blocks of a grassroots Europe, co-operating with one another across national boundaries, implementing joint projects and identifying common solutions to shared problems.
This makes sense and the economic integration and learning experience have only just begun. A rural region in Poland (where I am at the moment) or Croatia most likely have more in common with a rural region in Eastern Sweden, than any rural region have with their own national large cities. The European Union Strategy 2020 is designed to during the next six years further enhance regional development.
As we in Bearing work with Place Managers to support regional and local development across Europe, it is fascinating to observe the Scottish referendum debate in the UK. As the independence movement is gaining momentum and may actually win, many observers forecast a looming doom over the Island race.
It may be useful to keep sanity by thinking a bit about the bigger picture. In the European Union context, the nation states are bound to loose importance over time. Economic growth, post crises period, has to be redeveloped from Europe´s grass roots, and they are the towns, cities and regions where Mayors and other Place Managers work hard to create new opportunities for employment, education and research with the aim for the regions to flourish.
The borders of Europe’s nations have never been solid over time. In the time-lapse video below, you can see how 1000 years of European history plays havoc on the stability of the borders we take for granted today. If you look carefully, there is actually an independent Scotland until 1707. What matters nowadays though, is that we are all part of the European Union with free movement for people, goods, services and capital across the national borders.