Separatism as a threat to the European Union (The Case of Catalonia)

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-1-51-59
E. Cherkasova,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 04.10.2021.

Abstract. The Catalan crisis raises deep concerns about the very nature of European democracy. This is no longer an internal affair of Spain – rather a European and global crisis. Brussels, having declared that the Catalan problem is an internal affair of Spain, cannot completely abstract from it, both for economic and political reasons. It is quite obvious that the Spanish political elite failed to come up with an attractive alternative for Catalonia, or even a basis for a positive dialogue. By decisively taking the side of Madrid after the unilateral declaration of independence, the European Union has caused great disappointment among the Catalan nationalists. The EU is “tired” of crises and seeks to avoid involvement where possible, and it also lacks political or legal tools to resolve separatist-related problems. The European Union turned out to be unprepared for the Catalan crisis politically and intellectually. An extensive network of the EU authorities in the field of crisis management has shown its ineffectiveness. The example of Catalonia clearly demonstrates that the issue of separatism in general poses a serious threat to the European Union and the future of European integration. This threat is twofold. The rise of separatism in Catalonia led to a deep constitutional and political crisis in Spain itself, superimposed on economic problems, especially aggravated during the pandemic. The fourth EU economy is faced with an acute problem of maintaining territorial integrity. The Catalan crisis demonstrated the inability of Brussels to resolve this kind of conflict with mechanisms at its disposal. New mechanisms are needed that can ensure an optimal balance between supranational, state and local government institutions. The events in Catalonia have clearly demonstrated that separatist movements can pose no less a threat to integration as such recognized challenges as terrorism, migration, climate change and cybersecurity. Crises emerging within the European Union have become a serious obstacle to further integration; consequently, the focus of the EU’s anti-crisis policy is gradually shifting from external problems to internal ones.

Keywords: EU, Spain, Catalonia, nationalism, separatism, independence, security, autonomy, mechanisms, crisis


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For citation:
Cherkasova E. Separatism as a threat to the European Union (The Case of Catalonia). World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 51-59.

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