Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
You will note that this diary has only been recommended only by non-Europeans. For most Europeans the issue is not quite as simple as Spain wrong and Catalunya right. The question of which polity should take priority is at the core of the issue, and it is Spain which is the member of the EU, and thus in receipt of more direct EU support.

That is not to say that most Europeans think that Spain has acted wisely or well in its treatment of Catalunya and its separatist politicians. Most would advocate a much more conciliatory approach. Spanish authoritarianism has uncomfortable resonances of Francoist dictatorship and many Europeans died fighting for the Republican side in that civil war.

But that civil war is not one which most Europeans feel comfortable about revisiting. Many EU member states have separatist tensions and regions of their own to deal with. Nobody wants the EU to fragment into even more, smaller states and statelets.

The common response is to try to sublimate those regional tensions into a larger European whole. The more important the EU becomes in citizens everyday lives, the less the national states like Spain figure in their lives. The hope is that Catalunyans will feel more comfortable as part of a stronger EU than they feel about a resurgent Spanish state with a history of repression.

This may all be wishful thinking, of course. Historically, European states have tended to emerge as the results of wars or violent national liberation movements rather than peacefully by consensus. If Catalunyans want to go down that route, that is their choice, but they are playing into the hands of a Spanish state which has a virtual monopoly on the means of force.

Even Northern Ireland nationalists eventually gave up their attempt to gain their goal by violent means. Their aspiration is to remain/become part of a European Member state and so the EU can be broadly supportive. But the EU cannot support an attempt to undermine the constitutional order of the EU, which is based on Spain as a member state.

Abuses of human rights can be sanctioned and the Spanish government advised to take a more conciliatory and sympathetic approach, but that is about as far as it goes. As the examples of Hungary and Poland also show, the EU has very little institutional power to force Spain to grant Catalunya more autonomy, much less independence.

EUrotribers generally are no great fans of nationalism per se, as it has resulted in too many wars in Europe, and latterly in the Brexit debacle. The whole point of the EU is to diffuse these nationalist tensions, and replace them with a broader European identity. Clearly this is work in progress, but it has resulted in 60 years of relative peace, something Europe has almost never experienced before.

So while we have no problem with Catalunya seeking to express its regional identity in stronger regional institutions, that does not necessarily extend to support for Catalunyan independence - or the excesses and stupidities of the Spanish state, for that matter.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 11th, 2020 at 10:55:05 PM EST

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