Seems like the map of Europe will continue changing in the next few years. This is nothing new, it has been in constant change over the 20th century when dozens of the current established countries like Norway, Iceland, Finland, Slovakia or more recently Montenegro or Kosova have achieved their own state.
The UN acknowledges the right to self determination for all the nations in the world and in a European Union where only states have a voice and in a globalisation context in which we live it has become an urgent matter that those nations that have the will for their culture to survive and not be lost in the tide organise themselves as a state. It has become an advantage to the small and to have a distinct voice, to be flexible and to have a unique point of view.
Before the model was the big nation-state concept, which explains the success of states like France or the United Kingdom but now this has changed. We have added another layer of complexity, the European Union, and as a result many of the nations that composed the old big Nation-States have lost their voice completely and feel their culture threatened and their economical development endangered.
Let’s recap the current situation. Scotland is walking towards independence, with SNP in the government that is planning a referendum on independence and with London having already admitted that they’ll respect what the Scottish decide and seem to be the ones who to be in a better position right now. Wales have also seen a rise of their desire for greater autonomy, claiming the devolution of some powers back from London. Flanders, in Belgium the country is divided between the French and the Flemish (a dialect of Dutch) speaking communities and since 2007 parties claiming more autonomy or independence for Flanders have experienced huge growth. Also in Corsica there seems to be a desire for a greater autonomy from France.
In the Iberian peninsula, after almost 300 years it seems possible for Catalonia to recover its independence. Events have been accelerating within the last year culminating so far with the self organised independence referendums and the organisation of Reagrupament, a political association that is committed to declare independence the minute it achieves the majority of deputies in the Catalan Parliament.
Also in the Iberian Peninsula, in the Basque Country’s independentist political community have recently made a very clear statement that violence must stop, paving the way to a non violence scenario that will accelerate events towards its independence.
Small countries have shown to be better prepared than big ones to deal with the challenges of globalisation in general and with the current crisis in particular. That’s why aiming to less layers of administration and bureaucracy makes sense. Small countries know better how to deal with their own problems and needs and to make themselves heard without being diluted by the intermediary.
Since all nations I’ve mentioned in this article are already part of the EU their independence would not require the resulting two states to reapply entrance to the EU and therefore the split would not be traumatic and without violence.
Now it is up to the European Union countries to pay attention and deal with these cases in a constructive way, listen to how europeans want to organise themselves and make sure that their democratic decisions are respected.