BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Scottish independence would have been “cataclysmic” for Europe, spurring separatism elsewhere and creating an “ungovernable” continent of rival nationalisms, a senior European Union official said on Friday.
In one of the first comments from a European commissioner following a referendum on which the EU executive had observed a scrupulously neutral stance in public, trade chief Karel De Gucht told Belgium’s VRT radio he had feared a Yes vote.
“If it had happened in Scotland, I think it would have been a political landslide on the scale of the break-up of the Soviet Union,” said De Gucht, a Belgian liberal who does not support demands from some of his fellow Flemings for their own state.
“It would have been cataclysmic for Europe. That was what I feared,” he added.
“A Europe driven by self-determination of peoples ... is ungovernable because you’d have dozens of entities but areas of policy for which you need unanimity or a very large majority.
“Moreover it’s about countries, or parts of former countries, that would behave in a very nationalistic way.”
The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, whose team will step down at the end of October, is expected to give a formal reaction to the Scottish vote later on Friday.
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alastair Macdonald