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
- Buttin T. Independent Catalonia Has to Become the Twenty Ninth State of the European Union. The New Federalist, 18.10.2017. Available at: https://www.thenewfederalist.eu/independent-catalonia-has-to-become-the-twenty-ninth-state-of-the-european?lang=fr (accessed 10.03.2021).
- Statement on the Events in Catalonia. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/STATEMENT_17_3626 (accessed 10.04.2021).
- Birnbaum Ì. Catalan Separatists Counted on Support from the E.U. But They Got the Cold Shoulder. Washington Post, 01.11.2017. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/catalan-separatists-counted-on-support-from-the-eu-but-they-got-the-cold-shoulder/2017/11/01/62df9380-be6b-11e7-9294-705f80164f6e_story.html (accessed 15.03.2021).
- The Catalan Crisis, Scotland, and the Role of the EU. The Guardian, 15.10.2019. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/15/the-catalan-crisis-scotland-and-the-role-of-the-eu (accessed 12.03.2021).
- Merkel, Macron and May Show Support for Spain over Catalan Crisis. El País, 20.10. 2017. Available at: https://english.elpais.com/elpais/2017/10/20/inenglish/1508492716_965994.html (accessed 12.03.2021).
- DeFotis D. Catalan Secession Vote, Nigeria Nightmares? Barron’s, 05.10.2017. Available at https://www.barrons.com/articles/catalan-secession-vote-nigeria-nightmares-1507229491 (accessed 10.03.2021).
- Barber T. The Catalan Ñrisis Poses a Threat to the European Order. Financial Times, 06.10.2017. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/b31c20f8-a9bb-11e7-ab55-27219df83c97 (accessed 11.06.2021).
- Zonova T.V. From Europe of States to Europe of Regions? Polis. Political Studies, 1999, no. 5, pp. 155-164. (In Russ.) Available at: https://mgimo.ru/files/30031/30031.pdf (accessed 20.05.2021).
- Young R. EU Needs a Smarter Response to the Catalonia Crisis. Politico, 12.10.2021. Available at: https://www.politico.eu/article/catalonia-mariano-rajoy-eu-needs-a-smarter-response-to-the-catalonia-crisis/ (accessed 18.08.2021).
- Consolidated version on the Treaty of the European Union. Official journal of the European Union. Article 4. 26.10.2012. C.326/18. Available at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html%3Furi%3Dcellar:2bf140bf-a3f8-4ab2-b506-fd71826e6da6.0023.02/DOC_1%26format%3DPDF&ved=2ahUKEwiStYeYirH1AhWRposKHRzXDF0QFnoECA4QAQ&usg=AOvVaw0FB_WORFarx-78JNTzyjDI (accessed 10.09.2021).
- Garret M. Why the European Union’s Hands are Tied over Catalonia. The Conversation, 19.10.2017. Available at: https://theconversation.com/why-the-european-unions-hands-are-tied-over-catalonia-85661 (accessed 10.03.2019).
- Kholodkovskii K.G. Separatism in Western Europe. A XXI Century Perspective. South-Russian Journal of Social Sciences, 2018, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 27-37. (In Russ.) Available at: https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/osobennosti-separatizma-v-zapadnoy-evrope-xxi-veka/viewer (accessed 11.09.2021).
Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX