Despite Scotland’s referendum on independence failing to create a new nation, the September 18th vote may serve a more significant purpose for Scotland and the rest of Europe. That is because politicians in the United Kingdom’s Parliament pledged, in response to the strong showing of pro-separatist voters, devolution of powers to the regional levels of government in the UK, including Scotland. In many regards, it seems the shakeup could benefit the Scots more in the long run than an actual separation.

Scotland’s referendum vote will have reverberations around the continent because it served as a barometer for what territories like Catalonia, Flanders, and the Basque region can accomplish in a time of increasing interdependence. The gains won by the Scottish referendum have the power to influence Europe’s overall narrative regarding what a country needs to preserve its identity and power in the 21st century.

During the height of the Better Together campaign, pro-unity politicians pleaded with the Scots, arguing that there would be changes in the relationship. Leading figures like David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown have all signed a resolution to that effect – even though specifics on what exactly the Scots could gain are currently slim. But we can expect that it will be to the tune of greater devolution of taxation and welfare authority to the regional Scottish government. Of course there is no guarantee that this resolution will overcome political gridlock—and some Labour party leaders have expressed their reluctance to get onboard.

Scotland is not the only European region struggling with questions about its governance.

Despite Scotland’s referendum on independence failing to create a new nation, the September 18th vote may serve a more significant purpose for Scotland and the rest of Europe. That is because politicians in the United Kingdom’s Parliament pledged, in response to the strong showing of pro-separatist voters, devolution of powers to the regional levels of government in the UK, including Scotland. In many regards, it seems the shakeup could benefit the Scots more in the long run than an actual separation.

Scotland’s referendum vote will have reverberations around the continent because it served as a barometer for what territories like Catalonia, Flanders, and the Basque region can accomplish in a time of increasing interdependence. The gains won by the Scottish referendum have the power to influence Europe’s overall narrative regarding what a country needs to preserve its identity and power in the 21st century.

During the height of the Better Together campaign, pro-unity politicians pleaded with the Scots, arguing that there would be changes in the relationship. Leading figures like David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown have all signed a resolution to that effect – even though specifics on what exactly the Scots could gain are currently slim. But we can expect that it will be to the tune of greater devolution of taxation and welfare authority to the regional Scottish government. Of course there is no guarantee that this resolution will overcome political gridlock—and some Labour party leaders have expressed their reluctance to get onboard.

Scotland is not the only European region struggling with questions about its governance. In Spain, the north eastern province of Catalonia is home to a separatist movement that could only dream of the successes of the Scottish referendum. Catalonia is an industrial and economic powerhouse of Spain, responsible for 19 percent of Spanish GDP, and has long complained of a subsequent lack of tax benefits to reflect the region’s affluence (it is estimated that Catalonia contributes between 4 and 7 percent more to the central government than it receives back in fiscal transfers). Catalan separatists have pushed for a proposed – non-binding – referendum to take place this November, but rulings by Spain’s high courts deemed the vote illegal.

Even if the Catalan referendum doesn’t take place this year, the sentiment behind it isn’t going anywhere. Around 80 percent of Catalonians support at least holding a referendum on separation from Spain, but the Spanish right, currently in power, is historically opposed to regional autonomy or efforts to decentralize authority. Nor is Catalonia the only region of Spain with significant support for secession. Close to 60 percent of the population in the northern Basque country, which spawned the violent ETA militant group, support a referendum for independence. The push for a referendum in this region is less of a focal issue in Basque than it is in Catalonia, but it is a sentiment that is certainly on the Spanish government’s radar.

Then there is Belgium, which has had to manage a delicate balance between two ethnically, linguistically, geographically and economically distinct enclaves. Dutch-speaking Flanders, in the north, with about 45 percent of the population, produces some 57 percent of the nation’s GDP. Like Catalonia, a primary issue for those who advocate that Flanders separate from its poorer neighbor, Wallonia, is the drain of taxes from Flanders to subsidize the rest of the country.

But the cultural and ethnic considerations play a major role as well. The people of Flanders do not share a common language with those of the French-speaking southern Wallonia region. As of now, there is no push for a referendum vote in Belgium, but the precarious political environment would be ripe for a resurgence of the issue. Belgium’s new government, which has been in protracted coalition forming talks for over six months, is set to only include one political party from Wallonia, while the three other parties are Flemish and include the majority supported and pro-separatist party, Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie.

Rounding out the major pro-separatist regions of Europe is the island of Sardinia, Italy. Sardinia is a culturally distinct region, with pro-separatists well represented within the local government. Demonstrating the potentially immediate effect of Scotland’s efforts, some of these local leaders were in Edinburgh on September 18th to observe what they call the “Scottish lesson.” While these leaders believed that Scottish secession would springboard their own independence campaigns, Scotland may still hold some valuable lessons on the benefit of a referendum vote for forcing more concessions from reticent central governments.

"The Scottish Referendum has been a major tipping point both for the UK and other Member States," argues Nick Blow, Managing Director of the Brussels-based Strategis Communications. "Clearly that the trend is to more localised power and accountability. Whether this be for the natural region states like Catalonia or the emerging ‘city states’ such as London. This increased complexity of glocalisation will be a challenge for all those working on public policy whether in government or outside.”

That is why the Scottish Referendum movement did not end on September 18th – and indeed, it was always going to have effects beyond the borders of the UK. The Scottish people managed, if not full independence, then at least to hold the global spotlight and push the national parliament to work for the reform a centuries old union. And if Parliament does approve major changes, separatist parties from Belgium to Italy could find just the argument they need to revive their cause.