Catalan Bid For Independence Seen In Broader Context Of European Disintegration

Authored by Alex Gorka via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Catalonia’s secession movement has been growing in Spain for decades. The region has its own language and culture. On August 28, two pro-independence parties in Catalonia, the Junts Pel Sí («Together For Yes») coalition and the radical-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), submitted a bill to the regional parliament, which outlines the legal framework for the transition to independence. The two parties currently hold the balance of power in the assembly and, therefore, control the regional government.

The bill is set to be passed before the next referendum on secession will take place on October 1, fulfilling a pledge made by a majority of Catalan MPs. According to opinion polls, a majority of Catalans favor holding a referendum on their status.

While Catalonia has been steadfast in its determination to hold a separation vote, the idea of referendum has been firmly opposed by the central government in Madrid. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government is attempting to use the courts to prevent it from happening. Spain's Constitutional Court has previously quashed Catalonia's resolution to hold a referendum. 

The court and Spanish government have also warned Catalonian officials that they could face legal repercussions and sanctions if they help organize the vote. The war of words between Catalonia and the central government has escalated recently. The recent terrorist attack in Barcelona has failed to bring unity against a common foe. The Catalans are reluctant to comply with Spanish courts’ rulings and the use of force by the central government is hardly an option.

Catalonia, a prosperous region in northeast Spain, which generates a fifth of Spain’s GDP and already has wide sovereignty, managing its own education system and police forces. But it lacks the privilege the Basque Country enjoys, running its own taxes.

Over 70% of Catalans back the referendum, but a “yes” vote is far from being a slam dunk decision. In an opinion poll taken before the recent terrorist attack, 41 percent of respondents said they want Catalonia to be independent, while about 49 percent said they do not. Similar polling information following the attacks is not available. If people say yes, independence will be declared in 48 hours and a new parliamentary election will be held in six months to be followed by a vote on new constitution. Catalonia will form its own military, a supreme court and a central bank.

Catalonia is not the only such place one in Europe. More and more regions in Europe demand independence, greater autonomy and sovereignty. There is increased momentum for regionalism. 

The dream of independence never abandoned the Basque region, which is mainly located in Spain, but extends into France.

In Germany, Bavarians wish for greater autonomy or, even, independence. The calls for secession get louder there as immigrants’ flows hit the region.

Republika Srpska (RS) in Bosnia Herzegovina mulls secession.

Brexit would likely trigger a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Two of Italy's wealthiest regions, Lombardy and Veneto, have announced plans for referendums in late October aimed at obtaining greater independence.

There is also a secessionist movement in Italy’s South Tyrol. A pro-independence movement is strong in Flanders, the northern region of Belgium. There are also other, more marginal separatist movements in Europe, including Wales, Cornwall, Northern Ireland (the United Kingdom), Galicia, Aragon (Spain), Silesia (Poland), Frisia (the Netherlands, Germany), Sardinia (Italy), Brittany, Occitania, Alsace, Savoy (France), the Aaland Islands (Finland), the Faroe Islands in Denmark, as well as other small parts of Italy, Spain and Monaco.

The more integrated Europe becomes, the more secessionist movements appear on the continent. And the secessionist movements within national states are not the only thing to divide Europe.

A deeper look shows that the much vaunted European unity is a myth. Europe is getting increasingly divided between political alliances. Southern European countries tend to integration. The Visegrad Group, made up of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (the V4), is a bloc within the EU. In its turn, the European Union is on the verge of being divided into a «two speed» or «multi-speed» Europe. The idea of a «Federal Union» has been floated. It is expected that the final decision on the future functioning of the community will be made in December. The coming months are likely to see further turbulence. Germany holds legislative elections in September.

Multi-speed Europe would create rival blocs and perpetuate divisions, with France and Germany setting the rules and others left to catch-up. Countries outside the core will be marginalized being kept outside of the decision-making process. The EU is to become a loose alliance, a patchwork of blocs within blocks.

Actually, Europe has never seen such hard times in its history. The process of disintegration has started and is unstoppable. Today, the continent is divided into clubs, at times overlapping mini-coalitions based on shared geography or interests. «The purpose, even existence, of our Union is being questioned», EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini wrote in the foreword to the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy – the document that emerged a year ago.

The Brexit-started domino effect is continuing the chain reaction across Europe. Crises abound, and all of them boil down to people ultimately prizing their national and regional identities over state or supranational projects. The upcoming changes may make the West as we know it fade away, with new groups of states or national identities emerging. Russia, an island of stability on the tumultuous continent, will see the divisive issues aggravating its relations with the EU simply vanish as time goes by. Moscow will have to deal with something new to take the place of the disintegrating Europe.


BritBob Thu, 08/31/2017 - 05:36 Permalink

Under current international law, the right to self-determination is given to ALL non-self-governing territories. Outside of that remit 'consent' for a legally binding referendum - as per UK gov Scotland, gov of Canada re Quebec. The ICJ did rule that Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia 'was not unlawful' as Serbia had failed in its responsibilities to protect the people of Kosovo from discrimitation, de-housing and mass murder.  All Spain has to do is ignore Catalonia's referendum and her bid for self-determination.Spain also ignores the fact that the people of Gibraltar have the right to self-determination citing 'territorial integrity' as an excuse.  For the relevant international opinions on the right to self-determination and its application: - Gibraltar – Self-Determination (single page) :

MoonSun BritBob Thu, 08/31/2017 - 07:23 Permalink

I wouldn't say that Catalonia is a rich area. Its debt is rated as junk by all major rating agencies. Catalonia would not be able to get financing if it wasn't by the support of the Spanish State.Catalonia has wasted so much money lately. They have lived well over their means.

In reply to by BritBob

Expat Thu, 08/31/2017 - 05:18 Permalink

Catalonia has been pushing for independence for decades, not as a result of Brexit.  If anything, Britain was inspired by the Catalans, not the other way around.Scotland wants to leave Great Britain IN ORDER TO REMAIN IN EUROPE.Picking out an obscure region in Bosnia is a sign of desparation.  Why not point to all of Yugoslavia as an example?The other regions mentioned are not looking for full independence. They are looking for greater independence from the central government but wish to remain in Europe.I am not sure why Americans are so keen on seeing Europe disintegrate.  Schadenfreude?  Bitterness over European successes where America consistently fails?  Seriously, why the fuck do you care about France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc.?  Countries which ZHer's constantly mock, insult and deprecate.Europe is doing fine.  Many countries are still applying and eager to join the EU.  Britain will probably reverse its process as it realizes just how fucked it is on its own. 

gouyou Expat Thu, 08/31/2017 - 05:45 Permalink

I think most people want a local government they can control for most decisions, and a more global/federal government for some common regulations, for exchange fluidification, and for some backup in crisis situation: i.e. a bit like Switzerland, or the original USA.

In reply to by Expat

Ghordius gouyou Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:15 Permalink

most people look at the other's lawn and wonder why it's greener... while never enquiring why?yes, most people would be delighted if the Civics Fairy would give them a setup like Switzerlandit's the same people that would fight tooth and nail if you proposed any step towards that situationexample: Switzerland has 200+ treaties with the EU (org & member countries). one of them is the Schengen Agreement, which would be a no-no-no for most people dreaming the "Switzerland Dream". the same with Switzerland's contribution to the EU budget, or Switzerland's "taker but not shaper" role in EU regulationsoh, and Switzerland can only be participant to that thing because it has national IDs, something neither Britons or Americans would ever accept as "standard civics"most people want the Civics Fairy to show up, putting them to sleep in order to awake in Switzerland or such... "and don't bother me with details, particularly any which my belly does not want and my brain cannot or does not want to contemplate"well, the Civics Fairy does not exist. not as such. what exists is a "Civics Fairy Effect", and that is completely dependent on the average knowledge of civics in any countryin short, if the only two options known to you are either a brutal Rule of Man or an even more brutal Rule of The Gun In Your Hand... you'll end cheering for one of them... and there is no Switzerland for you

In reply to by gouyou

Ghordius Expat Thu, 08/31/2017 - 05:59 Permalink

+1 in fact Brexit, if done in it's fullest terms, might be the reason for Scotland to leave the UK...... and rejoin the European Union as a sovereign nation. just listen what Scottish leaders say aboutand the same is for Catalonian independentists, they want their own seat at the EU Council's tableand so on, from Basque country to Venetian independentists, etc. etc."I am not sure why Americans are so keen on seeing Europe disintegrate..."what "Americans"? where? here on ZH? hardly "Americans" in the average American sense, here"Doomers United" would be more apt, imho. in the sense of "Whatever, as long as we witness a huge BANG!, and pass the popcorn, please""... ZHer's constantly mock, insult and deprecate..." exactly and to the point. most here don't even care what target they are using for their poop pellets, as long as they get to throw them and giggle. oh, and don't forget the trolls, human and bot alike

In reply to by Expat

Doom and Dust Ghordius Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:14 Permalink

It's a bit more than Doomers United Ghordius you should know that. There's a libertarian streak here that's very American, and very consistent in its aversion to large government structures or even extra layers of administration.Whatever the EU is, it's uindeniably an extra supranational layer of state power, and thus a priori to be distrusted and even despised.Ironically, the EU in terms of political structure, federalisation and state sovereignty is shaping up to become more like the America the Founding Fathers had in mind than the US itself.

In reply to by Ghordius

Mr 9x19 Ghordius Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:17 Permalink

60 billions per months printed by the ECB, to do what.. buy back dept.  it is all about obligations buy back to make the masse imagine you gonna lower the unemploymeent. 60 billions per month = 30 millions jobs at minimal revenue. it would create  huge growth. instead, you buy back dept, create money, it is fucking instanity about a hand of frauder that have privatized the world economy. it cannot end well to govern population, by essence. you have to understand they all pilot the futur by buying prediction. no less, no more. it is hope and faith, and hand of bills in the pockets on the fly. people do not understanding it, will suffer to death. inevitable.

In reply to by Ghordius

quadraspleen Ghordius Thu, 08/31/2017 - 09:12 Permalink

To paraphrase John Mcafee (I seem to be offering this out quite a lot lately) I will eat my dick on national TV if a) Scotland ever leaves the British union, and b) if they ever join the EU as a "sovereign nation" They would have to accept the Euro, and in that regard would be little better off than Portugal or Spain. They don't have any surpluses, and way more than 50% of their trade is done with the UK. They will be chewed up and spat out like Ireland was. ain't gonna happen in my lifetime

In reply to by Ghordius

Singelguy Expat Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:33 Permalink

You need to stop watching the local news. It is more propaganda than CNN. Europe is anything but fine. The ECB has been printing money to the tune of €60 billion per month for the past year and the economy is hardly growing. Taxes are ridiculously high and the bureaucracy is strangling everything. The central bank prints and the member states raise taxes and continue to issue more bonds which the ECB eagerly buys up. In the meantime, the African migrants are over running the continent. There is no scenario where this ends well.

As far as Britain is concerned, they are headed for a hard exit. It will be dificult in the first few years, but they will eventually breathe a huge sigh of relief being out from the yoke of the EU idiots in Brussels. The future of the global economy lies in Asia, not the EU.

In reply to by Expat

Doom and Dust Singelguy Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:51 Permalink

What are you on about? European economies are growing just fine, better than the US on a per capita basis. Major tax cuts in the works where I live atm.All major central banks are printing, in fact all have roughly the same size balance sheet in absolute terms.And Britain? Britain is fucked. I used to hate Brexit, but decided I better get rich off it. Now I love it.

In reply to by Singelguy

Expat Singelguy Thu, 08/31/2017 - 07:43 Permalink

Sorry? Local news? Which news is that?  I read local papers, national papers, and, when I can, British papers (I frequently travel through London).  I watch CNN, NHK, Sky, Al Jazeera, BBC, RTL, and local French news programs.  I read Bloomberg, this site, and many other financial websites.  I meet with business leaders and commodity traders all through Europe regularly as part of my job.  I challenge you to have a broader, more balanced input.So, first, fuck you for being condescending and pompous.The crimes and flaws of the ECB are no worse than those of the Fed or the Chinese Central Bank, so why single out Europe?  The European economy is doing fairly well as evidenced by stock markets and exchange rates as well as stable employment figures.Taxes are "ridiculously" high.  Yes, those taxes would be ridiculous if you paid them in the US where the government provides few services to the its people.  Here, in evil commie Europe, those silly taxes pay for a very efficient public transportation service, universal healthcare, and free public education through university.  Europeans are healthier, smarter and happier than Americans by all surveys and tests and have been for hundreds of years.  So while we dont like paying taxes (who does?), we certainly enjoy the benefits of living in a socialist paradise.African migrants are a small minority in Europe though your local propaganda might lead you to believe otherwise.  Your statement is pure racism.  You sneer at European niggers from afar while you jerk off dreaming of having your own slaves and running a plantation.Britain is coming to the realization that the EU sends a large amount of money and business their way.  Funding for research, community centers, and public works relies heavily on EU money.  This myth that Britain get nothing back is bullshit.  Britain has no real economy beyond the City.  Now the City is fleeing to Europe in order to maintain its prvileges and profits.  When that kicks in, London will sink. What do you expect Britain to do?  Open up the steel mills and coal mines again?  Make wool and wheat?  It's a joke.  Brits thought they could quit the EU, stop paying into it, yet retain all the rights and privileges that go with being a member.  Try joining a country club and telling them you want to play gold and tennis but don't want to pay dues because that infringes on your sovereign rights.The future of the global economy may or may not lie in Asia but what the fuck does that have to do with Brexit?  Do you seriously think that Britain can negotiate better trade deals with China on its own vs the immense economic powerhouse on the Continent? The largest trading partner of the US is Europe!  The US exports more than twice as much to Europe as to the next partner, China.  China is not so much a trading partner as a factory state provding the US with cheap plastic shit.  The US has more important relationships with the EU, Canada, and Mexico.

In reply to by Singelguy

Jo A-S Expat Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:41 Permalink

Expat - Scotland does not want to leave Britain.  The SNP, and a large number of Scots, wish to leave the UK - there is a difference.  Also, the said Scots do not want to REMAIN IN EUROPE.  They are part of EUROPE.  As is the rest of the UK.  Even after BREXIT (should the EUSSR masters allow - or the UK government have the balls to carry out the will of the people) the UK will be part of EUROPE.  EUROPE is a continent and consists of many countries that are not part of the EUSSR.  Calling the EUSSR EUROPE is a typical Orwellian attitude to give it more likeability and, hence, legitimacy.

In reply to by Expat

Ghordius Jo A-S Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:54 Permalink

nice play of words. yes, Europe is geography, EU is notnevertheless, you are wrong1. the very leadership of the SNP clearly stated that they would want Scotland to leave the UK and rejoin the EU2. no "EUSSR masters" are hindering the UK to leave. they are just asking the UK gov how exactly they want to part ways3. calling the EU the "EUSSR" is not an Orwellian attitude. it's just... trolling

In reply to by Jo A-S

Ghordius Sandmann Thu, 08/31/2017 - 07:21 Permalink

no currency is not a problem. see Montenegro. and so reserves are a moot point, toono passports? a stamp in the old British one and a few month's time would solve that "problem", toono taxation policy? "copy/paste" does the trick (see the UK's proposed "Great Repeal Bill")you mentioned France. that's the "Auld Alliance" century-old BFF of Scotland. it does provide such services in a dozen countries, on a temporary basis or a permanent one, as wished. kind of "nation builder on demand", France, it would be delighted to be asked and to show "the Rosbifs" how such things are donewhy don't you run out the big guns? "Scotland would have to balance it's budget" is the biggest one I see, for discussion's sake

In reply to by Sandmann

Sandmann Ghordius Thu, 08/31/2017 - 09:31 Permalink

Scotland does not have passports. They certainly would not be issued with IPS documents from England & Wales. Really Ghordius, most people do NOT have passports and just like the "Australian" from Colne told to leave the UK despite thinking he was "British" - his documents, driver licence etc were immediately cancelled. You should read Page 1 of a British Passport to understand why your scheme is so madcap.If Scotland used the Euro it would be in worse shape than Greece  

In reply to by Ghordius

Expat Jo A-S Thu, 08/31/2017 - 07:24 Permalink

Wow, you are a grammatical Master!  So subtle, so full of shit.  If you are too stupid to understant that "Europe" in this context refers to the EU, I fail to see how you can be taken seriously.Basically, you are saying that I believe that any country or region which is trying to leave Europe is planning on picking up the entire physical area and moving it to Asia or South America.  Is that what you mean?Fuck off with your retardation.

In reply to by Jo A-S

World Cash Day Thu, 08/31/2017 - 05:42 Permalink

"Actually, Europe has never seen such hard times in its history."

Who wrote this crap?

So World War II was just some made up fairytale?


Catalonia should declare Independence and repudiate any and all debts Spain tries to hoist on it.

Doom and Dust Thu, 08/31/2017 - 05:51 Permalink

The Brexit-started domino effect is continuing the chain reaction across Europe.

Yes, the Catalan Independence movement is just a couple of years old.Also, most independence movements are fiercely pro-EU, especially the Catalans.This guy is an obvious moron flaunting his ignorance and stupidity on the internet like a wanking chimp. 

finnzero Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:08 Permalink

Åland Islands isn't looking for independence as far as I know. Åland Islands gets so much money from Finland so why would they declare independence.

MPJones Thu, 08/31/2017 - 06:49 Permalink

"A deeper look shows that the much vaunted European unity is a myth"As anybody who understands human drivers, or even history, will have understood at the time the EU was formed this was never going to work. There is no European demos. Hence the fascist superstructure on top of the construct to effectuate the supranational tax plunder and eventually the violence necessary to subdue national populations. Whereas the former has given rise to a very privileged new left-wing 'elite' outside normal democratic control, the latter is only gradually being implemented, e.g. by economic suppression of Greece and direct warfare against Sweden and Germany through immigration policies designed to displace naturally nationalistic and conservative populations with unattached aliens.The clear alliance between large global capital and governments in the EU is an excellent example of pure contemporary fascism with a very thin veneer of democracy.

Ghordius MPJones Thu, 08/31/2017 - 07:02 Permalink

"There is no European demos"correct. there is a French demos, a German demos, an Italian demos, etc. etc.and this "project", the EU, is over 60 years old and evolvingthe 13 colonies in America were not a demos, eitherthere was a Virginian demos, a New England demos, a New York demos, etc. etc.can you compare the US of 200 years ago with the US of today?the confederation of then with the nearly post-federal single state of today?

In reply to by MPJones

Sandmann Thu, 08/31/2017 - 07:00 Permalink

You might consider Catalonia as the spark in the Spanish Civil War 1936.......funnily enough you do not mention it.Why Freistaat Bayern ? You might consider Freistaat Sachsen which was once a powerhouse state until dismembered by Prussia and it could fuse again with Thuringen and become a bloc. There is less and less binding Northern Germany to Southern Germany.The EU could only function iof smaller countries were absorbed. The political status of tiny states like Malta or Cyprus or Estonia is disproportionate to their economic or population wighting