MADRID – In both Catalonia and Scotland, calls for independence are growing once again – an indication of conditions not only in Spain and the United Kingdom, but in the European Union as a whole. Indeed, the EU’s weakness in confronting its financial crisis both reflects and reinforces the erosion of its raison d'être – political integration. Whatever its roots in old grievances, secessionism, it seems, is a painful symptom of this degenerative process.
The perverse irony here is that Europe’s shrewdest secession-minded parties are dressing up their programs in European garb, promising that the new states will have automatic EU membership. The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) and Convergència i Unió (CiU) in Catalonia are both exploiting the concept of European cosmopolitanism to revive narrow nationalist ends and, ultimately, to break up the countries of which they are now a part.