Catalonia Tumbles Into the Sea

Not quite — but lawmakers in the dynamic and semi-autonomous Spanish province have approved a plan to secede by 2017:

The chamber, based in the northeastern city of Barcelona, passed the motion by 72 votes to 63.

The proposal was made by pro-secession lawmakers from the “Together for Yes” alliance and the extreme left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP). The groups together obtained a parliamentary majority in regional elections in September.

The Spanish government reacted swiftly. In a nationally televised address, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that his government will appeal against the decision at the Constitutional Court, which has in the past blocked moves toward independence.

“Catalonia is not going anywhere, nothing is going to break,” Rajoy said.

As has been noted here and elsewhere too many times to count, the EU Superstate has rendered Europe’s national governments almost superfluous. Does it matter to Catalans if they remain in Spain, so long as Brussels dictates so much of their domestic policies? Britain, which isn’t even fully integrated with Europe, had to fend off an independence movement in Scotland last year.

But how long will Britain remain in the European Union? Even that now is subject to a debate which would have been almost unthinkable at Number Ten Downing Street just a few years ago:

During a speech at a Confederation of British Industry conference in London, Cameron said he was “deadly serious” about securing EU reforms, adding that if renegotiations failed Britain “will have to ask ourselves — ‘is this organization for us?'”

Cameron was heckled by anti-EU student protesters during his speech, whom Cameron called “fools.” The student protesters chanted that the CBI was the “Voice of Brussels” — where the headquarters of the EU is located in Belgium. Cameron later said that he wasn’t going to “pretend for a second that Britain couldn’t survive” outside of the EU.

“The status quo isn’t good enough for Britain,” Cameron said, calling for flexibility within the union.

Cameron is merely talking reform within the EU, but it’s the threat of exit which makes such talk possible.

Meanwhile, Croatia just elected a new conservative plurality intent on closing the border to Muslim refugees — an echo of movements already underway in Austria and Hungary. Maybe what those three countries need is a new Habsburg to tie it all back together again.

Honestly, these days I can’t figure out if Europe is falling apart or coming together but at the moment I’m pretty sure the answer is a resounding “Maybe!”