Catalonian independence gives hope to other autonomous regions in Europe

Catalonia declared its independence 2 days ago. But Spain has cracked down by withdrawing the region's autonomy and taking over the government.

As for the rest of Europe, all members of the EU support Spain's actions. And why wouldn't they? Most of them have their own headaches with autonomous regions that want to break away to form their own countries.

In recent years, we've seen Scotland fail in its bid for independence, but the Orkney Islands off the coast desire independence from Scotland. Much of Northern Italy wants more autonomy while a push for outright independence is underway in South Tyrol.

What the drive for independence by Catalonia has done is open a long simmering desire by Europe's autonomous minorities for independence.

The Express:

The success in Catalonia could give the Basque Country a reason to resume its fight for independence from the Spanish central government. 

A new generation of young Basques who feel ignored by Madrid could decide to revisit Eta’s unilateral 2010 ceasefire.

The group killed more than 800 people in a 50-year campaign for an independent state. 

The map shows the Orkney Islands, which is exploring independence from Scotland and the UK following Brexit. 

More than half of the local politicians have demanded an investigation into “greater autonomy or self-determination” after the vote to leave the European Union. 

Orkney has traditionally been against Scottish independence and prefers Westminster government to Holyrood. 

The Galicia independence movement is a political movement, which supports the independence of the region. 

Some groups also propose a unification with Portugal, the military organisation is called ‘Restistencia Galega’. 

The Isle of Man, Cornwall and Sicily also feature in the map. 

In 2014, 89 per cent of people in Venice in Italy voted for independence in an online petition, which led to the forming of a party called ‘Veneto Si’. 

Before the First World War, South Tyrol in Italy belonged to Austria, but became part of Italy when the conflict ended.

Many people feel closer to the Austrians and there are strong voices calling for independence. 

The problem for all these autonomous regions is that their economies are tightly integrated with the countries they seek independence from. Most of them have also lost their uniqueness as they have been fully assimilated into the social and cultural life of their hosts.

There are exceptions. Sicily has maintained its unique culture as have the Basques. The Welsh have managed to keep their own language and customs despite attempts by the English crown to wipe them out. 

These independence movements remind us that Europe is far from being a united whole. Much of the continent's landmass was fought over and divvied up by the great powers hundreds of years ago. Belgium, for example, is a country formed out of several minorities including French, Flemish, and Walloons. Since winning independence in 1830, Belgium has been held together by a series of compromises between its French, Flemish, and German speaking peoples. There has been uneasiness from both Flanders and Walloonia who have made noises about more autonomy. Will the example of Catalonia increase their activism?

Along with the massive influx of Muslim refugees, the push for more independence by these regions serves only to divide the EU even more. No wonder that the "President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has admitted “cracks” are appearing in the EU after Catalonia declared itself independent of Spain." 




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