web analytics

Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

EU regionalism on the decline?

Following my recent posts on national vs European identity and regionalism and the EU (as part of a vague attempt to get an idea of the nature and importance of geographical/cultural identity), this may be of interest – Why the end is nigh for regionalism in Europe, from The Lobby. Quick excerpt:

Up until recently this was very much not the case. The Scottish National Party had just won power in their (regional) Parliament in Scotland, the Basque terrorists ETA continue to plant bombs in Spanish coastal resorts, and Belgium was in danger of being torn asunder by its perennial north-south divide. In the Balkans the newly independent states of Kosovo and Montenegro demonstrate that similar regional aspirations have led successfully to self-determination (although Kosovo is still very much a work in progress).

“This apparently contradictory trend of both centralisation towards Brussels and devolution towards the regions looked to be the way forward – until along comes the biggest financial meltdown since the 1930s. Now it’s all about strength in numbers.”

Worth a look – though it’s worth noting that now that France and Germany are out of recession (with the Eurozone’s economy declining by just 0.1% in the last quarter), it looks like all the doomsday scenarios predicted by the economic experts (the self-same experts who failed to predict the economic collapse) may not be quite so catastrophically inevitable after all. If the economy starts to revive again, I’d expect a swift return to business as usual – because there’s nothing the EU does better than the same thing it’s always done…

I’m sure there’s more to be said here about how the first port of call for Catalonia is the national machinery of Spain (the example used in the post linked above) rather than the supranational machinery of the EU.

But I’m not sure how much that would necessarily say about the strength of regional identity in Catalonia – it’s more a comment on the relatively tiny amounts of cash the EU has at its disposal. (The EU’s budget? 139bn euros; Spain’s budget? 374bn euros.)

This tiny EU budget, of course, is something set by the member states. Because it’s not in their interests to give the EU too much cash to spread around – not only might they not be able to control where it goes, but it could also (as if the EU, rather than Spain, came to Catalonia’s aid) help bolster regional nationalist movements and undermine the power of the governments of the member states.

At the risk of annoying a second nationalist movement in a week, this is why – in the present circumstances – I can’t see Scottish independence as being a viable option: the EU simply can’t afford to fill the void that would be left by the withdrawal of UK/English funds.

One Comment

  1. Interesting point. I suppose that whatever the current situation, when the economy rights itself, the old dynamics will resurface and the economic risks will be forgotten.

    Let’s not forget that the reform of the world financial system is a critical aspect of this. If things are done properly, strong national governments from big countries won’t have to provide such massive bailouts.