B1 Intermediate UK 70 Folder Collection
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At the end of 2017, the regional parliament here in Catalonia declared independence from Spain.
This followed a controversial referendum, where a reported 90% of the turnout
voted for Catalonia's independence.
But Spain is just one of 11 other nations facing pro-independence movements
looking to redraw the map of Europe.
Along with Spain - Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Denmark,
Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and the U.K.,
all have regions that are challenging their nationhood and autonomy.
Each region has their own reasons or becoming independent,
based on everything from historical border disputes to, in Catalonia's case, a strong cultural identity.
During Francisco Franco's fascist dictatorship in the middle of the twentieth century,
many Spaniards saw their democratic liberties eliminated and their regional identities suppressed.
This included local traditions, as well as the Catalan language, which many locals still favor over Spanish.
Following Franco's death in 1975, Catalonia was given a statute of autonomy in Spain's new constitution.
In 2006, a referendum gave Catalonia's local government further power.
But when the Spanish Constitutional Court modified the law in 2010,
the Catalonian people's distrust of the national government grew -
with 91% of its people saying they don't trust it to do what is right for Spain.
As the distrust between Madrid and Catalonian people continues,
the modern resurgence of calls for independence are also economically motivated.
Catalonia is one of the most prosperous regions in Spain.
It makes up just 6% of the Spanish territory, but contributes about a fifth to the country's GDP.
Cultural and economic divide is apparent in other countries too.
Take Belgium. It's home to two dominant cultural and linguistic groups,
with the Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and the French-speaking Wallonia in the south.
Flanders is the wealthier of the two, thanks to outside investment,
the second largest port in Europe and its education system.
Its territory covers just over 40% of the country, yet provides 58% of the country's GDP,
much more than Wallonia's 24%.
Its unemployment rate of 5% is half of Wallonia's at around 10%.
The region's strong economy has given momentum to the independence movement,
with the pro-separatist New Flemish Alliance now the biggest party in the country.
Political momentum also seems to be gathering in the Faroe Islands.
The Faroe Islands, home to 50,000 people, have been self-governing since 1948,
but the Kingdom of Denmark still controls its currency, foreign affairs and some of its courts.
With rising fish prices giving its economy a nice boost, Republican separatists want to seize the moment
and take its self-governance one step further with independence.
But Unionists fear the economy is too small to flourish alone -
if fish prices drop due to overfishing, that booming economy could see a downturn.
The islands are currently debating a referendum on a new Faroese constitution,
which is seen by most as the first step to gaining total independence from Denmark.
Regions using the threat of independence to gain power and greater autonomy
has become a bit of a trend across Europe.
The wealthy region of Lombardy, in northern Italy, has rallied support for independence
in order to put pressure on the federal government.
They want Rome to invest local taxes into their economy, rather than in poorer parts of southern Italy.
The Veneto region, with its capital Venice, is pushing for the power to set its own taxes.
Yet the pro-independence parties in both Lombardy and Veneto have only one municipal councillor,
with most residents in the regions saying they don't want full independence.
In Germany, the region of Bavaria has long entertained the idea of independence.
But in 2013, the region's secessionist party had its best result since 1966.
And a 2017 poll suggested one in three Bavarians want independence.
That may be one of the reasons why Angela Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union
were a bit more open to its Bavarian sister party's demands during coalition talks at the end of 2017,
in which Chancellor Merkel was forced to agree to the Christian Social Union's proposal
of a limit on the number of refugees allowed into the country.
But some analysts argue that increased autonomy in these regions
has actually reduced the chances of total independence.
Basque nationalists have been campaigning and fighting for independence
from Spain and France since the nineteenth century.
But since Madrid gave away significant autonomy to the Basque region,
the calls for independence have died down,
and ETA, the infamous Basque terrorist group,
is looking for formal international recognition of its decision to disband.
And momentum for Basque independence may have been harmed further by the Catalonia crisis.
A regional poll taken after the Catalonia referendum
showed that more than 40% of Basque people want further self governance,
but only around 20% actually want total independence.
The uncertainty that surrounds Catalonia looks set to continue
with the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont being arrested in Germany.
A regional court decided not to extradite him to Spain for the crime of rebellion,
but it could still send him home for the misuse of public funds.
For the rest of the EU's independence movements, the outcome of this constitutional crisis
may have a significant and long lasting effect.
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Who wants independence in Europe? | CNBC Explains

70 Folder Collection
robert published on December 21, 2018
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