Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Catalonia and Brexit: the same nationalism

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, will not enter the history books as an enlightened leader. However, when in 2014 he had to decide to allow the Scottish referendum, he used his brain and opened the door for the referendum. It took place on September 18, 2014. Only 45% of the Scotts voted for independence.
The contrast with the referendum in Catalonia could not be greater. The Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy stupidly decided to use violence to prevent a referendum in Catalonia, despite the fact that a peaceful referendum would most probably have led to a similar outcome as in Scotland. Spain and Catalonia are now on collision course; a situation that could have been avoided if the Spanish Prime Minister had not suffered from dogmatism and a degree of nationalism equaling in intensity the Catalan version.
The Catalan nationalists now have been given a fantastic boost thanks to Rajoy's stupidity. The TV images of Spanish robotic police officers hitting old and young to prevent them from voting create a perception of an oppressed people fighting for their freedom.
Nothing could be further from reality. The Catalans are not an oppressed people. They have a high degree of autonomy. They can organize their own education in their own language. No obstacles exist for the cultural development of Catalonia. It is the most prosperous region of Spain. Barcelona is a bustling city like no other in Spain. The Catalans are heard at the regional, national and European level. The image of an oppressed people is ludicrous.
Catalan nationalism is of the same kind as British nationalism that led to Brexit. It is based on a number of myths.
The first myth is that there is an external enemy. For the Brexiteers these are the European authorities (the European Commission, the European Court, etc.), which impose their arbitrary will on Britain. For the Catalan nationalists the enemy is the Spanish government oppressing the Catalan people.
The second myth is that the people who fight for their independence have a clearly defined identity. The task of national politicians is to listen to the will of the people. There can be only one voice. There is no room for different and opposing voices. The British government is now calling for patriotism. The opponents of Brexit are not true patriots.
The third myth is that independence will generate unsuspected economic prosperity. When the people “take back control” they will have the tools to achieve maximum economic prosperity. That is today the argument of Brexiteers like Boris Johnson. When Brexit will be realized (preferably as soon as possible), Britain will have achieved its true destiny. "Global Britain" will take over from the protectionist EU. Great Britain will merrily conclude free trade agreements with the rest of the world, which will lead to unprecedented prosperity. A similar argument of more prosperity for an independent Catalonia is heard from Catalan nationalists today.
The reality is that globalization undermines national sovereignty. This happens in many ways. One example. Large multinationals blackmail national governments in Europe, with the result that corporate taxes decline almost everywhere. In no country, however, is there a will of the people in favour of reducing these taxes. Yet this is the outcome because governments act as national entities. Were they to decide jointly on corporate taxes in Europe, multinationals would be unable to blackmail these governments and there would be no creeping decline in corporate taxes.
Another example. International trade today is not influenced so much by tariffs but by non-tariff barriers. Large countries decide about standards and the regulatory environment that will govern trade. There are now essentially three countries, the US, the EU and China that can aspire to decide about the nature of these standards and rules. The other countries play no role in this game. Thus when Great Britain exits from the EU so as to gain more sovereignty (“to take back control”), this gain is only formal. In fact its real sovereignty declines. Obviously the same holds for Catalonia.
We arrive at the following paradox in a globalized world: when nationalists pursue more formal sovereignty they achieve less real sovereignty of the people. They want to take back control and they end up with less control. That’s what Great Britain will end up with. That’s also what the Catalan nationalists will achieve if they pursue their nationalistic dreams.
This paradox has a corollary: when countries in Europe renounce formal sovereignty this leads to more real sovereignty of the peoples of Europe. 

31 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This is pretty poor analysis. People in Catalunya want independence because they believe that the people best placed to decide the future of Catalunya are the people who live there. It is also untrue that people who want independence assert some clearly defined identity. Switzerland for example, with three major language groups, has an identity, but it is anything but clearly defined. The same applies in Scotland where we are happy to regard ourselves as a mongrel people, with many overlapping identities. As regards the claim that inependentistas believe in some unsuspected economic prosperity, this is just absurd. Catalans and Scots fully accept independence within the EU. The complete opposite of Brexiteers. It might also be worth mentioning that some of the most successful countries in the EU, in terms of equality, social justice and prosperity, are relatively small countries, not too dissimilar to Catalunya and Scotland.

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    1. Some accept, not a super-majority, which means you are subjecting all people to your own definition of independence. The outcome, a reduction in prosperity, will afflict everyone. In Spain, the people who will suffer most as a result of partition will be the poorest in Spain. Collectively, the country is stronger; separately, all will be worse off.

      In respect to Scotland, a great country, the influence is Westminster is in fact far greater now than it would be under full independence. Under full independence, the UK would need to be come a federation, and as such the value of votes would surely be attributed on population. In that scenario, Scotland, Wales, and NI come under excessive influence by the English - an irony if ever there was one. My views are offered as opinion and no disrespect is intended.

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    2. Influence? I'd say dictatorship, control.......since 1707, England/Westminster has thought of Scotland, not as an equal country but as another Colony to rob blind and control. This is what we Scots want absolutely free of! It is not as if we haven't been Independent before, we were far more centuries an Independent and European country than a forgotten country, manipulated to work for England and not for Scotland kind of country. If people know Scottish history they will know our forefathers fought very hard against the merger between Scotland and England, there were only several thousand of the elite and well to do people in Scotland sold Scotland out and the ordinary working class Scots did NOT get a vote whether to merge or stay Independent.

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    3. Because the wealthy elite of Scotland wasted all Scotland's wealth and England wanted Scotland's land (which many Scots were kicked off (Highland Clearances) so the wealthy of England could take great swathes of our Highlands and Islands for sheep farming. We lost so many Scots then, they went and settled in Nova Scotia and elsewhere abroad in disgust of Scotland and the greedy.

      Our Independence is to return Scotland back to a pro EU Independent Scotland and we would have wo n in 2014 had it not been for the mass interference by Westminster, MI5 and the unionists north and south who had 99.9% of British Nationalist media including English owned Scottish papers (controlling what they want Scots to believe from HQ in England).

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    4. There may have been violence in Catalonia which turns my stomach what our friends in Catalonia suffered from but what the British Nationalists did to Indy Scots was systematic over several years, the lies they told, calling us Nazis yet we are far, far more inclusive and welcome anyone because we are Civic Nationalists and Internationalists, not inward Brexiteers.

      I was a unionist under Labour member for 40 years, blinded by their lies, but I hate the union now,WM and their media,may they rot in hell. I hope with all my heart Scotland will return to Independence and I hope sincerely the lovely folk of Catalonia have their democratic voice listened to. Both Catalonia and Scotland are the wealthy parts and main Spain and Westminster/London need our wealth, this is why they would do anything in their power, we seen it with fascist Spanish Police and Gov, the brutality which has damaged Spain.

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    5. Scotland will be Independent, it is our right, we have many from all over UK who have wanted all the great benefits of Scotland but treat Scotland as North Britain and that is further control in my mind.

      Thankfully we have many English Scots voting for Indy because they love Scotland like we do and want free of Westminster control and have same vision for Scotland for them and their loved ones as us Scots born.

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    6. There is only one newspaper that prints all the political news that the biased BBC, Skynews, Channel4News keep hidden from us and that is The National, also Business for Scotland is a great voice of fact about Scotland's economy and check out our adopted Scot Richard Murphy who has revealed the misleading data that was produced year in year out about how Scotland's economy was faring, it was all distortions aimed at fooling Scots into believing we were too poor. His website is www.taxresearch.org.uk and type in Scotland GERS to find the real truth about Westminster con, they set that up to make fools of Scots for decades.

      All the great successes through our Scottish Gov, these British Nationalist far right media only want to distort the real facts as well as hide the positive facts about Scotland. I feel we are in a British open jail with Tory Nazi-esque in control in Westminster.

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    7. Tories have been responsible for thousands and thousands of deaths via their Medical Fit for Work Assessments, the misery and pain the sick, disabled and mentally ill have went through that it hastened their deaths through illness or suicide. UN has already called them up against their human rights abuses and Conservatives in power ignored them and continue to have blood on their hands at the deaths, homelessness of so many. Folk wonder why Scotland wants Independence, our SNP Scottish Gov protects Scots from the harsh austerity cuts and mitigates quite a few to protect us. That is what you call a compassionate, honest, decent and principled party full of values.

      WM and fascist unionists won't stop till they get rid of SNP. We'll make sure it won't happen and recent polls after 10 years see SNP gaining again, they are well in front of ScotLabour and Tory and on course to win back seats in WMinster.

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    8. Jeez.... never read such rubbish.. do you work for the SNP by any chance?

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  3. May be Rajoy is not so stupid, but committed to his electoral base. Many PP voters already believe Franco was the lider who saved Spain from separatists and communists, and they will not accept a referendum under any circumstances.

    On the other hand, been Catalonia one of the more richest regions of Spain, it has the more indebted regional administration, and public benefits and services suffered severe cuts.

    Of course catalan nationalists argue this is because a disproportionate contribution of his region to the national budget, a poor financial system for his region and a real discrimination on the infrastructure investments from Madrid.

    Others argue all is a problem of bad administration of the catalan govern, but because PP has a very low electoral base in Catalonia, they had little to no interest in prove this, which is interpreted by separatists as a prove they are right.

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    1. You are clearly very uneducated about Spanish history. Catalonia is what it is now, thanks to all Spaniards.

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  4. The scottish independence referendum took place on 18 september 2014 actually.

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  5. I mean its Spanish nationalism that underlies the anti-Catalonia movement.

    Same old nationalism all around. Why is Spanish Nationalism so much better than Catalonian nationalism?

    Because it independence strengthens the hand of multinationals? Because Madrid already invested in infrastructure? Because in practice they still have less power when it comes to trade?


    Nation states as a whole seem to have a pretty good track record of governance when they don't get conquered and or razed by the big boys. Besides, I'm sympathetic to the idea that they don't want to pay so much to Spain. Plus, independence with free enough borders seems to increase the bargaining power of individuals. More competition.

    I also think the cops beating people for voting was more than just stupid -- it was wrong. At the very least Catalonia would gain the power to make sure that Spanish cops don't beat their pro independent citizens, which seems like an important form of sovereignty.

    This does underscore the arbitrariness of borders though. I mean, what if a town in Catalonia voted for independence from Catalonia? How large or small do polities have to be to be "legitimate"

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  6. Another myth is that people revolt for no particular reason at all. Something powerful drives Catalonian nationalism and needs to be accomodated. Probably it German driven austerity since 2008.

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  7. Logically, in your argument (significant parts of which I don't accept) could Scottish citizens not escape the self-inflicted damage of Brexit (which we voted against by a large majority) through self-determination and a rejoining of the EU?

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    1. The majority of Scots, however still do not want independence. There was a slight jump in the polls after the Brexit referendum but the polls have gone back down to roughly 45/55 with independence on the losing side. Given what's happening in Spain and Catalunya right now, what do you think are the chances of Spain voting for our entry into the EU? I would say they're precisely nil. A number of other EU countries have regions who would like to break away. No one wants to upset their apple carts. I doubt our entry would be smooth. Also given our current economy, the price of oil and the fact we do not have our own currency, even George Kerevan (ex-SNP MP) said we'd have to sell the family silver to float our own currency. The EU would impose austerity max on us before we could hope to join. Scotland's best hope as a nation is to keep pushing the UK government to give up this ridiculous notion of Brexit and go cap in hand back to the EU and ask forgiveness.

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    2. I agree with some of what you say but — I may be proved wrong here — if that is 'Scotland's best hope', hope is in very short supply. I think it is important to have a reasonably long-term perspective on such a major shift as Scottish self-determination, and to take a socio-economic developmental perspective. The fact that Scotland's economic performance is in some respects weak is not a great advertisement for the benefits of UK membership; take away EU membership by Brexit and difficulties are magnified. Small countries, from Norway and Switzerland to Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium—in or out of the EU—do not have a bad record in our so-called 'globilised' world. I wonder how many 'regions' in EU countries have so many clearly separate legal, cultural and social institutions as Scoltand, not to mention recognised national status in a set of major international sports. Scotland has a ready-made centuries-old se of national institutions. Peter Katzenstein 'Small States in World markets' (Cornell UP 1985) though dated is still worth looking at. Michael Keating& Martin Harvey's 'Small Nations in a Big World: What Scotland Can Learn' (Luath Press, 2014) brings things up to date. The realities of Brexit may well bring many more Scottish citizens (as opposed to subjects of the British crown) otherwise, like most humans, wary of significant change to back Scottish self-determination.

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  8. I'm fascinated by these comments - I get the feeling there's an automatic response that says "any small entity reacting against a big entity is a good guy". What happened last Sunday was terrible -Rajoy was inept - but Catalonian Nationalism is no cut and dried good gut thing. It's motivated by forces every bit as venal as the those behind Brexit - and Nigel Farage is one of those supporting it. Catalonian Independence is backed by parties with a heritage every bit as rooted in Franco as Rajoy - the opposition within the Catalan Parliament is socialist. You need to separate bad descision making by individual politicians from the underlying story. Opposition to separation is strong within Catalonia itself.

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    1. The catalan independentist movement is quite complex. For starters, PSOE called himself socialist because originally (1931-1939) they were socialist , nowadays they are more on the center to right wing. They support Rajoy, it's conservative and autoritarian measures (the gag law for example) and it's violence on 1-O.
      The independence movement is the union of 3 political parties. They go from the center-right (Pdecat) to left (ERC) or extreme-left (CUP) and it's heritage is far from being rooted compared to Rajoy.
      Farage it's supporting the movement in the same way that Russia does it, because they are interested in collapsing the EU.

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    2. PSOE still is quite leftist. Look at what other leftist parties say they are for /against across EU. PSOE is left of a lot of them. You are right that this is less leftist than it used to be... but that is because everybody (except for Corbyn) has given in to Globalism and Free Market Capitalism as a POV that no one can move away from.
      PSOE has been in power because they made deals with the nationalist movements. They actually made the rule that people from all over Spain have to learn Catalan to be in a governmental role and make people from other regions go through tests to prove that they have adapted enough... yet somehow Catalans do not have to go through the same to show they know Castillano enough.
      The seperatist movement has grown simply because people in all regions have become far more inward looking, forgetting the past (it was Franco who put the industry in the North) and being more self absorbed.
      So Catalonia feels it pays too much to the central government (just look at how the movement has grown since 2008 - when austerity hit... the finger quickly pointed to Madrid). That in essence is what it is about. But what people aren't voting for is a solution. Just not being part anymore of another problem...

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  9. Spanish constitution doesn’t allow regional separation. The whole country would need to vote for it should the parliament would ever agree to allow it. Do a better research before you comment about something or stay quiet. After that mistake your whole article falls into pieces

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  10. Arguing that the EU imparts greater sovereignty on the nation state is very odd indeed. The European Central Bank is instrumental in driving the EU agenda, which is wholly focused on the harmonization of labour laws, judicial reforms and all manner of structural changes required to create a single market for the benefit of the largest multinational banks. For these grotesque institutions debt is the weapon of choice and the servile world of academia spawns their champions. Their greatest fear is devolution because it weakens their power structure. The concentration of power, in the hands of technocrats they control, is what they seek. Catalonia threatens that. So the revolution must be quashed. It's as simple as that.

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  11. Dear Mr de Grauwe, before issuing so strong opinions , frankly, you should be better informed. It is disheartening to read how people like you write on issues with so little preparation.

    You don't know the actual degree of autonomy that Catalonia has. It is clear from what you wrote. You just know what you read on some theoretical paper or what you heard from your presumably neutral Spanish colleagues. In fact, if Flanders had the degree of autonomy that we Catalans have, you would not be lecturing other nationalisms so easily. If Catalonia had the degree of EFFECTIVE autonomy Flanders has, I would probably not be so strongly pro-independence as I am. It is easy to despise other nationalisms once your people has achieved a really superior degree of autonomy.

    Just 5 points because I have little time. There would be tenths more complaints.

    DEMOGRAPHY: Catalans are 7 millions out of 46 millions Spanish. Basques are only 2 millions, but have a very different statute of autonomy. It is clear that when in disagreement, the Spanish nationalism will squash us. On all relevant matters. In Belgium, you Flemish are in a majority at state level. A COMPLETELY different scenario.

    CULTURE: how come if we are so independent we are in so clear a minority when it come to cultural services ? Books, TV channels, newspapers, Radio, cinema. Everywhere you'll see a proportion of cultural services completely skewed towards the Spanish-speaking side. In proportions of AT LEAST 80% to 20%. Nothing to do with the reality in Flanders. Nothing to do.

    JUSTICE: In Flanders, do you have a legal system that changes political texts approved by the population on referendum? That's what happened in Catalonia in 2010. It is a legal system hostile to Catalonia on all sensitive political matters. It is a legal system that, when it comes to political matters, it is basically shaped on the will of PP and PSOE, the two main parties. And whoever agrees with them. In addition, most judges do not speak Catalan, and even despise it. Majority of them comes from other Spanish regions or are born in Catalonia from immigrant parents. Would you like that Justice in Flanders was administered by mostly Wallonian Judges that can't speak Flemish ?

    INVESTMENTS: we have no say on the relevant ones, and no access to money to build them. Madrid decides everything at this level. And we will always be in a minority in Madrid. By definition. How come Catalans have to pay millions and millions at toll stations every year and most regions enjoy toll-free roads? How come the Mediterranean Corridor has not been built ? How come you can get much much faster to Madrid than to Barcelona from Valencia by train?Because Madrid wants a centralized state. Everythings has to serve Madrid.

    FISCAL SYSTEM: In Catalonia we have a fiscal drain that is much higher than in Flanders, for instance, and probably the highest of all Europe. You should know it.

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  12. Of course I do not agree with your title, which in my opinion has little to do with your contents, i.e. your arguments. I am personally disappointed Guy Verhofstad cites you in this context, the whole of the EU makes a sad impression on me with respect to Catalonia. I fully support Guy Verhofstad in his opinion and strategy on Brexit. I am writing this as a German citizen. Catalonia has little to do with general aspects of globalisation, but much more to do with European history in the wake of 1990, the opening of the Berlin wall. Catalonia has a long history of oppression from Spain, including really bad oppression by Franco, including quite some mass torture and mass murdering. Of course Spain is different now, it is a democratic state, and a member of the EU. I have many Spanish friends, and I love Spanish culture. All of this is without questioning. But Catalonia has a right to independence if the region democratically decides to do so. In a free vote, a majority might also choose to stay inside Spain, which is alright as well. But it would be a free choice. All of this goes back not to globalisation, but to the end of WW1, and Woodrow Wilson. People should have a say in which Nation inside Europe they like to live. The EU is born out of this spirit, to promote peace, and cannot go back to the supremacy of the nation state now, even if this is politically convenient. Spain cannot just write in its constitution that the nation is non-dividable, this is against fundamental citizen rights. Here I also contradict Macron, who otherwise I consider a political ally, and of course Angela Merkel. The EU must become a serious defender of basic European values, this is my dream. Otherwise I do agree that globalisation is undermining the nation state. Living in the UK, I know what that means by now. But here the EU with its market size and power is the only viable solution I see for the future. Let us become true Europeans!

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  14. I'm sorry, I can't let this article go unchallenged. Nationalism isn't always a bad thing that leads to genocide and war. If the British (leave voters) don't want to be part of a European superstate then that is their prerogative. We weren't told this was going to happen when we joined the Ccommon Market or given referendums along the way on whether we agreed with the Lisbon and Maastricht treaties. And there are plenty of people around the other member states who feel the same, but they aren't necessarily Nationalists either.
    As for Myth 1, I think the EU has proved they are not our friends in the way they are behaving towards us now. Do we really deserve punishing for leaving? The EU wants to see really hard times happening in the UK and that is disgraceful to want. In fact the only thing most Europeans like about us is our money and you are panicking to see that go.
    myth 2, the British have seen migration for centuries, but the most diverse migration has happened in the last 70 years. We don't all have the same identity and opinions are split, as the referendum showed, but we, unlike the EU are not anti-democratic and the will of the people here, voted for brexit.
    Myth 3, most brexiteers know brexit will come at a cost (they'll not admit it because the remoaners - what we call the people who voted remain and haven't stopped moaning about the result - already think we are stupid so this would increase that feeling & the abuse we get from them) but money isn't everything, and what we gain will be worth what could be only a short term pain. The future isn't known. Some said not joining the Euro would be a big mistake and cost us, but that didn't materialise, so maybe the same will happen again. Remainders don't have crystal balls, we could make brexit a success and that why to get behind brexit now even if you voted remain, is a patriotic thing to do. To try to make Brexit unsuccessful as some remoaners are trying is surely a bit traitorous!

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  15. As a non-Catalan Spanish, I would like to write a few words about this. And first of all, excellent

    post, thank you for it.

    I cannot fully describe the sadness that I feel these days. The disaster that I see, how a society that

    lived together for generations now cannot continue that way. The fact that we have many more things in common than differences. What is happening is unbelievable.

    Let me start as Paul De Grauwe, emphasizing the lack of skill of the Spanish central government. A

    government that only considers the "rule of law". This is a required ingredient of the recipe, yes, but it is not enough. The full clash is about feelings, and they failed to counteract feelings. The government is composed of old lawyers, and they lack the skills for this purpose.

    But although I complain a lot about the central government, let me as well indicate that there is

    something worse: Catalan politicians. This is the root of the problem.

    Catalonia, among the wealthiest regions in Spain and the European Union, got different extreme left

    parties in their parliament that claim that they are "poor" because "Spain steal their money". Can you believe this? A system that gets taxes from citizens according to their income, and redistribute to regions according to their population. This is not steal, this is solidarity.

    Spain, a country where there is way more diversity than in many other countries, a place where almost

    half the population live in bilingual areas (Catalonia, Basque Country, Valencia, Balearic Islands,

    Galicia, and other at a lower level). A country like this is apparently "totalitarian".

    A country where different communities have been living together for 500 years, having multiple ties together, multiple Catalan prime misters (example: Francesc Pi i Margall). Now, from one day to the other, all this is bad.

    A region with one of the largest level of autonomy that I know. All elements of society are directly

    under control of the Catalan government (education, police, transport, health, etc.). Only the army is

    missing. Never in history of Catalonia there have been a level of freedom like this. However, their politicians claim that they are a "colony". And this is not said by the average Joe, but by top level politicians.

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  16. [I rewrite the post above because of the indentation]

    As a non-Catalan Spanish, I would like to write a few words about this. And first of all, excellent post, thank you for it.

    I cannot fully describe the sadness that I feel these days. The disaster that I see, how a society that lived together for generations now cannot continue that way. The fact that we have many more things in common than differences. What is happening is unbelievable.

    Let me start as Paul De Grauwe, emphasizing the lack of skill of the Spanish central government. A government that only considers the "rule of law". This is a required ingredient of the recipe, yes, but it is not enough. The full clash is about feelings, and they failed to counteract feelings. The government is composed of old lawyers, and they lack the skills for this purpose.

    But although I complain a lot about the central government, let me as well indicate that there is something worse: Catalan politicians. This is the root of the problem.

    Catalonia, among the wealthiest regions in Spain and the European Union, got different extreme left parties in their parliament that claim that they are "poor" because "Spain steal their money". Can you believe this? A system that gets taxes from citizens according to their income, and redistribute to regions according to their population. This is not steal, this is solidarity.

    Spain, a country where there is way more diversity than in many other countries, a place where almost half the population live in bilingual areas (Catalonia, Basque Country, Valencia, Balearic Islands, Galicia, and other at a lower level). A country like this is apparently "totalitarian".

    A country where different communities have been living together for 500 years, having multiple ties together, multiple Catalan prime misters (example: Francesc Pi i Margall). Now, from one day to the other, all this is bad.

    A region with one of the largest level of autonomy that I know. All elements of society are directly under control of the Catalan government (education, police, transport, health, etc.). Only the army is missing. Never in history of Catalonia there have been a level of freedom like this. However, their politicians claim that they are a "colony". And this is not said by the average Joe, but by top level politicians.

    [continue]

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  17. [continue]

    A region that is bilingual, where it is forbidden for teachers to speak Spanish at school, and business must provide information to customers in Catalan and not Spanish. The same freedom that is requested to say "yes" in a referendum, is negated to parents to decide the language to teach their children. Isn't all this about freedom?

    A Catalonia divided in two groups. The wealthy Catalan elite, owners of companies, working in public jobs, and keeping control of the Catalan state; and the poor immigrants from the rest of Spain, Spanish speakers. Wasn't society about helping the poor and keeping those in power under control?

    Now, suddenly, the feeling of hate is unstoppable and there "must be" a Unilateral Independence

    Declaration. A "couple" which is unable to break-up friendly, facing a "divorce" full of grievances. I do not understand.

    Catalonia politicians arrive to the XXI century with XIX century mentality. Once country, one language, glorious history, extended borders. Have a look to the "local" weather forecast of typical Catalan newpapers (example: www.avui.cat or www.ara.cat). Their "Catalonia" does not match current borders between countries. An independent Catalonia means international conflicts with all nearby countries (for Valencia and Balearic Islands with Spain, Perpignan with France, Alghero with Italy).

    The European Union was created to prevent this. After generations and generations of French and Germans killing each other in their wars, that became World Wars, they now live in peace. It is not the free

    market what makes EU great (but it contributes), it is the fact that country borders are irrelevant.

    Finally, there is a nice joke in Spain these days: "Voting is like having sex. It is really good and everybody wants, but you have to agree on it before, otherwise it is a rape."

    I hope this post helps to explain the situation. And in any case, my best wishes to Catalan citizens.

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