The New York Times – Europe’s Richer Regions Want Out

CATALONIA may be the catalyst for a renewed wave of separatism in the European Union, with Scotland and Flanders not far behind. The great paradox of the European Union, which is built on the concept of shared sovereignty, is that it lowers the stakes for regions to push for independence.

While a post-national European Union may be emerging out of the euro zone crisis, with a drive for more fiscal union and more centralized control over national budgets and banks, the crisis has accelerated calls for independence from member countries’ richer regions, angry at having to finance poorer neighbors.

Artur Mas, the Catalan president, recently shook Spain and the markets with a call for early regional elections and promised a referendum on independence from Spain, although Madrid considers it illegal. Scotland is planning an independence referendum for the autumn of 2014. The Flemish in Flanders have achieved nearly total autonomy, both administrative and linguistic, but still resent what they consider to be the holdover hegemony of the French-speakers of Wallonia and the Brussels elite, emotions that will be on display in provincial and communal elections Oct. 14.

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