Separatism in a united Europe

While we have a strive to unite Europe, there are ongoing activities in Catalunya to separate this region from Spain. I have no specific opinion on how well founded this is and what advantages a separation from Spain would have for the Catalans, but I think that each people has the right to self-determination.

The problem is that this right is not generally accepted. If we take United Nations, it consists of states, all of those negative to separatist tendencies in their own countries and therefore, in principle, against such tendencies even in other countries. Of course, if it gains their own interests, they may deviate from this principle. Russia, who fought two wars against the separation of Chechnya, freely abandoned the principle of inviolated borders when it recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and later annexed Crimea. The separation of Kosovo from Serbia is an example were Western states have deviated from the principle of unviolated borders.

Therefore, the international community are acting as hypocrites when they refuse to discuss the ongoing separatism in Catalunya and Iraqi Kurdistan. In fact, there should be international rules set up for dealing with such situations, e.g. concerning minimum population in the appointed areas, defined geographic borders, procedures etc. Personally I think that there should be a qualified majority of e.g. 60 % required for separating a region from a country. Generally, if a set of recognized rules are set up, they should cool down hotheads and reduce risks of conflicts. In the ongoing case between Catalunya and Spain I guess that an “International Convention on the Right to Self-Determination” would have brought the conflict out of the way a long time ago.

Sadly enough the conflict is there and, regardless of outcome, it will remain a problem for some time, not only for the directly involved, but for the whole EU. If there really will be a separation, more European regions will eventually go in the same direction. If this is the case and the new countries formed eventually gain EU memberships, the existing unbalance between big and small EU countries will further increase. This is of course negative.

The proposed “Transnational lists” for future EU elections will add to the unbalance between small countries and regions relative the dominating countries. My proposition is in stead to go in the opposite direction, that is to regionalize the elections. While smaller countries like Sweden and Finland should continue to have one list each, bigger countries like Germany and France should be divided into regions of about 10-15 million inhabitants like Nordrhein-Westfalen and Île-de-France. The distance between the EU citizens and their representatives will thus diminish, not increase as in the actual proposition. The Council of the European Union may remain like today.

Summary: Although not advocating separatism, I find that the present resentment of any endeavors in that direction should end and that the international community should produce rules and procedures to deal with such situations. As for the actual situation in Catalunya, the EU states must act promptly to avoid an escalation of the conflict. If Catalunya still persists in the strive for independence, rules must be established and a new referendum held. Although not desirable, a new member state in Europe is no disaster. Europe can be stronger even with more members. The proposed “Transnational lists” for EU elections is a bigger risk for European cohesion as this will broaden the gap between voters and representatives.

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.