By Olga Denisova
Scotland has announced its plans to hold a national referendum on independence from Great Britain by the end of 2014. The Dutch-speaking district of Flandria wants Belgium to turn into a confederation.
The trend inspires Catalans in Spain where separatism has long been on the rise. Developed districts do not want to share the debts of the rest of Europe.
Spain’s most economically prosperous district of Catalonia has long been dreaming of independence. The same holds true for Italy’s northern district of Padania and Germany’s Bavaria in the south. The recent municipal elections in Belgium earned the separatist New Flemish Alliance a victory. The party’s leader has already urged the government to negotiate a process that would turn Belgium into a confederation. The country’s southern French-speaking region of Wallonia is being subsidized, which finds no approval from a more prosperous Flemish region. Bart De Wever, the New Flemish Alliance leader, said before the vote: “The Flemish have had enough of being treated like cows only good for their milk.” De Wever appears to be familiar with a book by Wilfried Scharnagl, member of the Christian Social Union, titled “Bavaria can also do it on its own”. The author claims that Bavaria`s riches are being used by Berlin and Brussels.
Today the European separatism relies on economic issues, not ethnic or religious ones. All prosperous regions have strong separatist parties, says political analyst Mikhail Neizhmakov.
“The Scottish National Party has been enjoying a wider public support after big oil fields were discovered on the Scottish shelf. Italy’s Lega Nord (North League) party is also strongly opposed to the idea of paying for less prosperous south and Sicilia. Now that the economic crisis has not been overcome yet, separatist movements will grow even stronger.””
Yekaterina Cherkasova of the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations shares the opinion.
“Separatist movements have a direct link to economic difficulties and will develop relying on how the events unfold in the euro zone, especially in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.”
The head of the centre for economic studies at the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements, Vasily Koltashov, believes that separatism is part of the general crisis in the EU.
“Actually, Catalonia’s policy is equal to that of Germany. Germany does not want to take part in handling economic difficulties. Berlin says that it is necessary to find a way to financial stability, forcing countries to implement policies damaging their national economies- this is what we see in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy. As a result of this the whole regions, like Catalonia, start looking for independence.
Experts say that some regions could benefit more from the situation. Separated from a concrete country and the EU in general they would not have to pay those huge debts currently faced by Europeans.
Meanwhile, chances are very low for these districts to become independent. Belgium`s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo has ruled out a possibility of a state reform. He cooled down Bart De Wever by reminding him that Belgium held municipal, not federal elections. Catalonia’sleader Artur Mas does not receive support in Madrid either. He said he would ask Brussels for help if the Spanish government bans an independence referendum in Catalonia. Obviously, not all countries are ready to follow in the footsteps of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland’sfirst minister Alex Salmond, who set out terms for a Scottish independence referendum.