Separatism in Europe

Why do some regions in Europe want to separate from their state?

There are some regions in Europe that regularly announce their will to form an independent state. These separatist movements mostly take place in the richer regions. Examples in Europe would be Flanders in Belgium, Lombardy in Italy and – currently in the limelight – Catalonia in Spain. The mentioned regions are often upset by the solidarity payments they have to make for their poorer neighbouring regions. Thus, they want to become independent states with independent budgets.

However, the separatist movements do not only take place because of financial reasons. The separatist regions often have very own imaginations of their region. These include among others their language, culture, mindset and their history. Everything differs a little bit from the customs of the neighbouring region and thus the separatist region would be convinced that their futures will differ as well – and of course theirs would be more prosperous and successful. A recent example is the Spanish region Catalonia. The separatists reached the majority of mandates at the election in last December. Thus, they feel confirmed in their position to separate from Spain and will intensify their efforts. However, they also have to face strong opposition: The richer states of Catalonia are taking over the arguments of the separatists and pose the question, why they should co-finance the poorer regions of Catalonia with their money. Separatist movements can thus easily provoke chain reactions and comprise smaller and smaller entities, which want to become independent in the near future. A tough example is the troubled state of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was torn apart in the war from 1992 to 1995 and suffers from it until today.

For the national states it becomes increasingly harder to adjust to all geopolitical and economic challenges. This includes topics such as globalisation, climate change, financial crisis and the migration policy. In addition, the membership in the European Union continues to be a topic of relevance, which is critically questioned by the separatist regions. The United Kingdom with its Brexit decision could become a role model for these regions when it comes to the times after an EU exit. It remains to be concluded that some regions want to become independent because they hope for a better and more successful future. They tend to forget the advantages they have, when they are part of a bigger state. If some regions would really become independent states it only can be hoped that their decision is well-considered – with all consequences it brings – and will happen in a peaceful way through negotiations and without violence.