Nationalist Revolts in Europe: The Quest for Catalan Independence

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In the current profound financial crisis, most European member states wish they did not lack the freedom of decision-making with regards to their economic and monetary policies. But there is one thing they have not surrendered to Europe: their national identity. The case of Catalonia exemplifies this notion of nationalism, which has resulted in demonstrations and elections for the democratic right of the people to decide. Since there is no single European identity among the 27 member states, the EU finds itself at a crossroads; it can either push for further integration, or it can take a step back and surrender the power to the nation-states.

The Complexities of State and Identity Fragmentation in Europe

Amid the financial turmoil across Europe, some European regions —such as Scotland, Flanders and Catalonia— are desperately seeking to gain greater self-rule, intensifying an identity crisis that has persisted throughout history. In an era of globalization and economic interdependence, nationalism is becoming the dominant form of identity protection, turning it into one of the most profound crises affecting the continent today. In fact, the primary objective of many nationalist political parties throughout Europe is to increase their self-rule and, in most cases, gain independence, which the states do not commonly perceive as a feasible option. In other words, secession is generally seen as an unviable solution to the country’s financial and economic problems, especially in a moment in history when politicians, diplomats, economists, and academics are pushing for greater European integration, globalization and free trade worldwide. It is also argued that the thought of potential war or conflict, even at a local level, makes many fear the option of independence, especially since the current European Union was once created in order to avoid future wars in the region —a fact that new generations tend to forget. But would these potential new European states actually undermine Europe’s capacity to act globally? Shouldn’t these nations have the right be heard, according to democratic principles?

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