“Juncker thinks 100 states in the EU difficult but not totally impossible” But is it? Consider Catalonia, the EU, Brexit and Kurdistan

On Friday, October 13, 2017 Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, stated the following: “But if you allow Catalonia – and it is not up to us of course – to become independent, other people will do the same. I don’t like that. I don’t like to have a euro in 15 years that will be 100 different states. It is difficult enough with 17 states. With many more states it will be impossible,” The Guardian, 10/14/2017.

There are some important points to this:Is the independence of a region currently inside a EU state “not up to us of course?”. Of course, it is not, but this does not entail that the EU has no influence or responsibility. An independent Catalonia (or Scotland, for that matter) would, on current rules, have to apply for EU membership or to belong in the single market.

Is it conceivable that as many as “100 different states” might adopt the euro? Leaving aside the difference between joining the EU and adopting the euro as a currency (central as it is to a long-standing division within the Alternative für Deutschland), the idea of “100 different states” is not far-fetched. There seems to be potential secessionism or division all over the place. There are Russians in the Balkan states, and Germans in Bavaria and even in Denmark, and there is a patchwork in eastern Europe. It is not only in Spain (the Catalonian and Basque regions) or Belgium, which is well-known (see, for example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_separatist_movements_in_Europe). Even in Sweden, where I live, there are secessionist movements in Jämtland (neighbouring Norway) and Skåne (neighbouring Denmark). Åland, a Swedish-speaking island in the Baltic, is a potential secessionist from Finland.

Naturally, the degree of active secessionism varies. Sometimes, it is just a matter of a desire for an independent or semi-independent region within a country (e.g., as Åland within Finland). Sometimes, it involves a desire to set up a wholly new country (e.g., as Scotland or Catalonia). An important aspect is whether the desired new country spreads across countries, which is the case for Catalonia but not for Scotland. It is not the same as for the Kurds, which are scattered around Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. What area would an independent Kurdistan cover, and how would these other countries repond to having Kurdistan enclaves as part of a greater Kurdistan.



What do these points entail for Brexit? The main aspect concerns which geographical unit is going to exit the EU. Clearly, the current position is that all of the UK (covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is to leave.

A point that has been made is that, so far, the borders of nation states in western (albeit not in eastern) Europe have been stable to a historically unprecedented extent. However, the underlying potential for far more of a patchwork is already there, in relation to membership of the EU, the single market and the euro. Is Jean-Claude Juncker’s fear of “100 different states” inconceivable? Is he “mad”  not to seriously consider this? Or is it really such a bad idea?

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. britur

    The EU got cold feet and has opposed Catalonia’s referendum result for independence! Interesting to see how this may affect other regions interested in independence! Any ideas anyone, can’t anyone see into the future? What’s wrong with you guys?!

  2. britur

    Thanks Francoise for your thoughtful response. UK and France were responsible for much of the map drawing in colonial times.
    You mention the Welsh, Scottish etc, but what about London declaring independence, not totally impossible, and perhaps much to gain if the UK continues to go down the drain!
    Afterthought any idea on what Macron’s response would be to growing secessionism??
    Best Brian

  3. Françoise Olive

    That Kurdistan is not a country but enclaves in 4 neighbouring countries. It is a shame and in great part a decision by the UK and France. Kirkuk’s petroleum didn’t help, only helped BP. Has nothing to do with secessionist movement in Europe. We may respect the independence of Catalina, but it will encourage all secessionist movements, past and present in the EU. It’s like in the UK, nowadays, people consider themselves as Scottish, Welch, Irish, English, never as British. In Belgium, you are either Flemish or Wallon. Could Europe encompass 100 countries, I don’t think so. Then there is the possibility that more countries will want to exit the EU with the rise of nationalism.

    1. britur

      Hello Francoise! Hope all well. I am seriously considering cutting down my FB activities, because it takes a lot of time, but most importantly, things get lost in FB. I am thinking of transposing some of the recent dialogues we’ve had on FB to this site where I think they could have much greater impact. What do you think? Are you looking for any part-time work? Maybe too busy??

    2. britur

      That is the really interesting point namely “Then there is the possibility that more countries will want to exit the EU with the rise of nationalism.”
      Yes, why should London not do a Catalonia? And become its own independent state. It could afford to, and probably would be much better off.
      I think the EU should unless they are totally stupid, which is also possible, be aware of this possibility, and logic I think tells us depending on how seriousöly they take the risk of secession that on balance they would not give a good agreement to the UK, in order to deter others! What do you think?

  4. britur

    Comment on Funny Guy’s post. Surely Juncker is not suggesting 100 states as members of the EU. They can’t manage 27 at the moment. And I don’t think he can count either, because you refer to him as referring to 17 states. Bit fishy I think.

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