Nov 30, 2012 18:12 Moscow Time
© Collage “The Voice of Russia”
The worsening economic situation in Europe may lead to the appearance of new states. The increasing integration of the Eurozone countries has triggered centrifugal trends inside these countries.
Regions are dispersing, and some are demanding political independence, while others are satisfied with economic independence.
The map of Europe might change in the next three or four years. Nationalists in Catalonia, who won the local elections, are preparing to hold a referendum on the secession of their region from Spain. There is a growing probability that the Dutch speaking district of Flandria will secede from Belgium. An agreement on holding a referendum on independence of Scotland in 2014 has been signed. “The Northern League” of Italy is pressing for at least economic independence of the industrial provinces from the “lazy and corrupted” according to their opinion, south. Bavaria has strictly demanded reforms in Germany’s financial constitution saying that it cannot tolerate how its money is being ineffectively used by other regions.
“Regionalism” is the other side of European integration, says president of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remisov. Small regions are no more afraid of independence because they are under the “umbrella” of European structures, which have undertaken a lion’s share of states’ functions.
Some experts link the strengthening regionalism to the economic crisis. The Eurozone’s rich participants, Germany and France are unhappy that they are forced to solve the problems of their poor neighbours. Successful regions have no desire to subsidize less developed ones. During the crisis, there is no extra money. However, director of the Centre for German Studies of the Institute of Europe Vladislav Belov insists that the economy is a secondary factor.
“Partially, this is a response to multiculturalism; more attention is paid to native culture. There is a concept of “German culture”, Goethe, Schiller but German culture is still based on regional culture. There is one culture in northern Germany, another one in the south. This is a result of the growth of cultural self-identification that leads people to such conclusions as “we work better and we deserve a better life, we should not feed others,” Vladislav Belov said.
The European authorities still do not know how to respond to the new challenge. They even cannot assess all the possible consequences. Political scientist at Moscow State Institute of International Relations Professor Valery Solovei believes that the strengthening regionalism and a possible disintegration of states are part of global changes that the international community is being pulled into by the economic crisis.
“This is similar to what the world faced in the early 20th century. We are waiting for a tide that is moving towards us. It is growing higher and higher, but we cannot assess neither its scale nor its cause. Or we vaguely see the reason and the nature of these phenomena and sporadically react to them. We press buttons, guessing not knowing if we’ll be lucky or not,” Valery Solovei said.
Economists are discussing a coming change in technological patterns. Political scientists talk about transformation of social and political systems. Some experts believe that regionalism is only an objective process that has to be understood. If the decision on independence is adopted within the framework of democratic procedures, the European elite has no right to disrupt it. Possibly, Europe is offering a new development model the advantages of which have yet to be understood and put to use.