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5.11.17

Whose Europe?

Imagine if a large part of Texas wanted to breakaway from the Lone Star State to become a US state in its own right and the people voted by referendum accordingly. Would it be forced to immediately quit the US federal republic, abandon the dollar and see its inhabitants lose their US citizenship? Would the new state in waiting be forced to reapply for membership of the USA with the rest of Texas threatening a veto? 

How about a French speaking part of the majority German speaking Swiss canton of Bern wanting to separate so as to join the French speaking Jura canton. Would the 'rebel' territory suffer immediately expulsion from the Swiss confederation and its inhabitants lose their Swiss nationality?

No, of course not! Such matters of territorial reorganisation would be handled internally and democratically with very little fuss. So why not then for a region of a member-state of the EU that wishes to do the same? Such questioning gives the lie to the idea that Europe is in anyway federal or that EU membership gives its citizens rights above and beyond those of the nation-states. Changing internal borders would have no effect upon the inalienable right to citizenship of all US nationals. For the Catalans  and their EU citizenship it's not at all the same. For them leaving Spain equals leaving the EU, for if the Catalans have EU citizenship it is only thanks to their status as Spanish nationals. EU citizenship is simply a bonus attached to having French, Spanish, German or other member-state nationality. 

Even when the legality of what the Spanish governments is doing is far from sure, the EU's institutions come out firmly in favour of Madrid. Perhaps the EU's mask has started to slip.  What we see behind the mask is not a Europe of and for the people - EU citizens with inalienable rights and EU institutions with the highest democratic standards. No, what we see instead are the member nation-states  huddled together for the purpose of self-preservation - even if the threat is an internal one from the democratic desires of the citizens themselves.

After following the events in Catalonia I'm left with the feeling that more than one member nation-state would rather sink the whole EU project and rob every European of its benefits than see part of their territory secede and become a new EU member. Is this the menace from Madrid that has kept the rest of the EU member states inline with Spanish wishes?

EU beware! Many regionalists, autonomists and democratic nationalists - until recently all convinced EU federalists dreaming of a Europe of a hundred flags - are becoming increasingly disenchanted at a time when the EU needs all the friends it can get. Let the peoples of Europe seize back control of the European project from the hands of our self-centred nation states and their self-serving bureaucracies.

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