Secession within the EU?

While I’m on the topic of secession, I thought I’d point readers to the upcoming vote in Catalonia to see if they want to secede from Spain. Central to my arguments for secession is the role that new states would have within a broader free trade zone (like the U.S. or the E.U.). For Catalonia, the British paper Telegraph reports:

Catalonia wants to collect its own taxes, to control how they are spent and it seems prepared to break away from Spain to do so.

But with a clear road map yet to be outlined the process of separating from Spain promises to be burdened with hurdles.

While Catalans prize their role as citizens of Europe, EU officials have warned that membership of the union won’t be automatic. Instead Catalonia would have to gain admission, joining the queue of a list of new European nations seeking membership, and the process would likely be blocked by a vengeful Spain.

This is key to not only Catalonia’s success, but also the success of secessionist movements everywhere. If regions within current states want independence, they have to be sure to not confuse political independence with economic independence. The latter will only lead to poverty. I highlight this point because new states formed during the beginning of the post-colonial revolution of the 60’s and 70s thought that economic independence was the key to liberty. How wrong they were.

The key to the velvet divorce of Czechoslovakia and the peaceful dissolution of the USSR was international recognition of the new states. The reason why secession failed in the Balkans, in Africa, and in Asia is because the international community did not recognize the new states because of various geopolitical reasons.

If Catalonia is to be successful, it will have to be a member of the EU, or find free trade agreements with a number of states as quickly as possible. My one suspicion I hold about secessionist movements is they tend to be parochial, and falsely believe that autarky is the best way to prosperity.

Let us hope the Catalonians continue to press forward with plans to be a part of the EuroZone, and that Spain will not be nearly as jealous as pundits believe it will be. If Catalonia is able to join the EuroZone fairly quickly, it may lay the path for the creation of more new states within the EuroZone, but also throughout the world. Despite my anti-statist views, I wholeheartedly think that more states are better than fewer. It’s counterintuitive, I know, but so is the argument that gutting the defense budget of the US and bringing troops home from rich regions of the world is good for national (and global) security. (h/t LDL2)

8 thoughts on “Secession within the EU?

  1. Brandon: You are right but shooting at clouds. I think you would have trouble pointing to any secessionist movement in Europe, including successful ones from the ex-Yugoslavia, that argued for economic self-sufficiency. They all aspire and aspired to join the EU.

    Economic self-sufficiency is a silly idea pushed by would-be elites in poor countries who try to replace the standing, and international trade-linked existing elites. Wherever they gain power, theses new elites quickly impoverish their countries by implementing even a few measures toward self-sufficiency. In time, they become fascist countries out of economic necessity.

    The gospel of economic self-sufficiency can only be preached credibly to illiterate masses in very poor countries. Extreme nationalists, half-literate movements like the current French Front National espouse the same ideas in principle but they only dare go part of the way.

  2. How much does the Catalonian economy contribute to the Spanish economy? I would guess that, given Spain’s current fiscal condition, any positive reaction from Spain would depend on what they will get out of letting Catalonia secede. Also, does the Euro-zone need any more countries?

    • wbwise:

      How much does the Catalonian economy contribute to the Spanish economy?

      A lot! According to the article I linked to, Catalonia is the wealthiest region of Spain and accounts for 1/5 of its GDP. In fact, wealth is one of the big factors for secessionist agitation (did you really think this was about something other than money?!).

      Also, does the Euro-zone need any more countries?

      Oh yeah! Lots more. Hundreds more! I wrote about this a while back. You can find more on the benefits (and costs) of secession here as well.

    • So in that case, i.e. Catalonia being a major contributor to the Spanish economy, will Madrid let its most prosperous province just leave? As for more countries in the Euro-zone, given the lack of a central financial authority – not the one they have that has no teeth – would more countries be a good idea or just lead to more chaos?

    • will Madrid let its most prosperous province just leave?

      Good question! If I were Madrid I wouldn’t want Catalonia to leave, that’s for sure. This, of course, is why I think the EuroZone is a good idea: because it weakens the nation-state.

      As for more countries in the Euro-zone, given the lack of a central financial authority

      If only there were no central monetary authority! Then Europe wouldn’t be in the crisis it is in right now. The only central authority that EuroZone needs is the one that was in place prior to the creation of the central bank there: the one that bound all sides to free trade agreements and not much else.

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