Europe and Regionalism Part I

By | October 20, 2021

The financial crisis has created new contradictions and highlighted conflicting interests in Europe. It has led to conflicts between northern and southern European countries – the southern European countries have been hit hard by both a debt crisis and an unemployment crisis . The crisis has also given rise to separatist movements in many regions, such as Flanders in Belgium, Scotland in the United Kingdom, Catalonia in Spain and the so-called Padania in Italy. These are rich areas in the states to which they belong. The crisis has led to setbacks here as well and strengthened the reluctance to pay taxes and transfers to poorer parts of the country.

  • What are the rich regions?
  • Why are they rebelling right now?
  • How do they argue for secession?
  • Is it free to detach?

2: States and regions

The state borders in Europe have been changed a number of times throughout history. Some states have been engulfed by neighboring countries, while others have emerged, been conquered and resurrected. Many regions have previously been independent political entities, often with their own traditions and language until today. The state borders are a result of old conquests, peace treaties and power relations between princes and between political leaders.

Many of the regions that have active independence parties , and which have strengthened their demands for secession or greater autonomy in response to the financial crisis, thus have a past as independent entities. Some have also been part of neighboring countries. Almost all countries in Europe have regions with their own historical and cultural identity.

SCOTLAND was merged with England in the United Kingdom in 1707. At that time, the Scottish Parliament was dissolved. The Scottish struggle for independence was abandoned after a military defeat in 1746. Scotland gained internal autonomy from 1999, when the Scottish Parliament was restored. Many Scottish nationalists have had a dream of full secession from England, and today a referendum may be held on this issue.

According to TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA, CATALONIA was incorporated into Spain from 1716 and gained political and cultural autonomy in 1978, after the fall of the fascist Franco regime in 1975. Here, too, separatism – the struggle for independence – has gained momentum, not least after the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Separatism in Catalonia has been less violent than the corresponding struggle in the Spanish Basque provinces further west.

FLANDERN is the richest of the three regions in Belgium. The country became an independent kingdom after a revolution in 1830, when it seceded from the Netherlands. Belgium thus consists of three regions – the Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, the French-speaking Wallonia in the south, and the bilingual capital Brussels. Flanders and Wallonia already have significant regional autonomy (See HHD No. 13 2007–2008 ).

PADANIA in northern Italy has a slightly different background. Only the northern Italian nationalist party Lega Nord considers “Padania” a political and cultural entity. The name is derived from the Latin name for the river Po – Padus, and the area includes several regions that were incorporated into Italy when the country was united in 1861. In the wake of the financial crisis, there are even some who have wanted to restore the city-state of Venice.

All these regions have long had independence parties – political parties that have spoken out and stood for stronger independence. Such parties have had varying support . The larger national parties have, among other things, contributed to weakening them by accommodating and addressing some of the complaints.

The Spanish government has entered into agreements on internal self-government with each of the historical regions of the country. The United Kingdom has transferred power and decision-making power to newly created regional parliaments, among other things, to neutralize Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland independence demands. In some periods this has satiated the hunger for full detachment, in other periods it has rather sharpened the appetite. Here, there has been a changing balance of power between different factions within the regions.

3: Why dissatisfied regions?

Many of the historic regions have been subjected to forced integration into the states to which they belong. Rebellious freedom fighters have therefore been able to cultivate the memory of fallen greatness and abuse. The regional languages ​​have been gradually eradicated, such as Gaelic and Celtic languages ​​in the peripheral zone of Great Britain – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Elsewhere, languages ​​and national symbols have survived, such as in Catalonia and the Spanish Basque provinces. But they were subject to prohibition and repression in the Franco period until 1975.

Politically, the regions have often been subordinated to a stronger national center, such as London in England and Madrid in central Spain. Belgium, on the other hand, is an officially language-divided country, as is Switzerland.

At the same time, many of the regions have been economically successful . Much of the competitive industry and growth industries in Spain are located in Catalonia and the Basque Country ( HHD 15 2009-10) . Some of the taxes and fees collected from there are transferred to other and poorer parts of the country, ruled by the political-administrative elite in Madrid. Flanders is a richer and more industrialized part of Belgium than Wallonia, with widespread aversion to economic transfers out of the region. For a long time it was the exact opposite, then it was Wallonia that had to transfer to Flanders.

Europe and Regionalism