Denmark will adapt, says ‘Yes’ camp, just like Scotland will

The success of its similarly-sized Nordic neighbour lends a “very positive perspective” to the pro-independence campaign

Aye or Naw? It’s a simple question that Scotland will be answering as this issue hits the streets on Thursday 18 September, but the complexities could have far – reaching consequences for its citizens, both home and abroad.  

The battle for independence might have been bubbling away for decades (well before the release of ‘Braveheart’!), but few anticipated how the 2014 referendum has seen support for a break from the 1707 union reach record highs and an electorate split right down the middle.   

Most Scots know that ending their 307-year marriage to England will have massive repercussions, but few seem to know for sure what independence will bring.

An unprecedented case
Despite the ‘Yes’ campaign’s increasingly compelling vision for independence which has clawed back a 16 percent lead in a little over a month experts believe that questions over currency and EU membership have not been definitively answered. 

Alan Macniven, who lectures in Scandinavian studies at Edinburgh University, believes that questions like these have “never been addressed satisfactorily". 

“There has not to my knowledge been any situation where an EU country has left and had to reapply," he said.

“So whilst there may be many opinions on what might or might not happen, I think there is a very unique dimension to the case, and so far we have had very few honest attempts to figure out what the solution might be.”

EU not a problem
However, Macniven’s Danish colleague, Bjarne Thomsen, who also lectures in Edinburgh, does not envisage there being a problem.  

“My sense is that obviously a separate Scotland would have to apply as a new country, but equally it is difficult to imagine that a country such as Scotland would not be perceived as an attractive member state,” he said.

“I think the notion that it would not gain access is fairly unrealistic and perhaps part of painting a picture of greater difficulties.”

In the right direction
Campaigners against independence also argue Scotland would struggle on the international stage.

However, Louise Batchelor, a former BBC news presenter and pro-independence campaigner for the Scottish Greens, believes momentum is firmly behind the ‘Yes’ campaign.  

“Everything is going in the right direction, and the fact that we are doing so well in the context of a very negative media is incredible," she said.

“Everything here is driven by London and the financial sector. For example, there is not nearly enough emphasis on protecting the 
environment."

Not helped by the media
Simon Poulsen, the head of the European Enterprise Network Denmark (EEN), agrees that the press coverage can be wayward at times.

 “The argument in the English press that a small country cannot survive is out of date and quite laughable,” he said.

“Independence has been in discussion for many years and Scotland is in a much better position than many other countries undergoing such changes.”

Dispelling the myths
In a similar vein, Thomsen believes that Denmark – with a comparable population size – is the perfect example to dispel this view and lends a “very positive perspective" to the quest for independence.

“Differences between the Finnish language and Scandinavian languages have not hindered Nordic co-operation," said Thomsen.  

“My hope would be that Scotland would be seen as an exciting partner, and it is quite possible that links between the Nordic region and Scotland could increase further in the future.”

Macniven stresses that “longstanding" historical links between Scotland and Scandinavia already provide a backbone for co-operation.

“Business as usual”
According to Poulsen, the perception in the Danish media today that the Yes vote will be bad for business is a slightly “clichéd" view of the Scottish market.

“They believe Scotland outside of the EU is not a sound financial future,” he said. “But Danish companies have a lot of joint interest in Scottish industry and there is a lot of potential for co-operation. Some of the most reliable Danish business partnerships are with Scots.”

Regarding the currency, Poulsen contends, Danish industry is not at all concerned despite one or two banks airing their fears.

“This will be business as usual,” he said. “Money is money."

Not about the short-term
Andrew Christie, a Scot living in Denmark, expects a financial backlash, but that this will be short-lived.

“I would be concerned about the immediate aftermath with businesses threatening to relocate and the uncertainty surrounding the currency and EU membership,” he said.

“But this vote is not about the short term. This vote is about giving future generations control over their own destiny."

Prospering like Denmark
And Christie is now confident that his country can prosper just like his adopted one.

“In some respects it is a step into the unknown, but I believe that, once the dust has settled on the initial fallout, Scotland would go on to prosper as an independent country,” he said. 

“You only have to look 600 miles east to Denmark to see that it’s possible."