Secessionist movements and Euroscepticism: are they a problem for the European Union?
The result of the recent Scottish referendum on independence, one hand averted the risk of destabilization of the equilibrium, on the other hand also raised the issue of the spread of political parties and independence movements within the European Union.
Following the failed attempt of Scotland, Catalonia also can not pursue the road of independence. The Catalan referendum, which was to be held on November 9, has been blocked by the High Court, which upheld the appeal filed by the government in Madrid, temporarily suspending the referendum, waiting for the judgment within five months. A decision motivated by doubts of the referendum is unconstitutional because it infringes the principle of “indissoluble unity of Spain”, enshrined in the Constitution. According to The Premier Mariano Rajoy words, the referendum “attentive to the rights of all the Spaniards”.
All over the European Union territory, however, there are many parties that affirmed the recognition of the right of peoples to self-determination, as enshrined in international law.
This right is a Golden Rule (ius cogens) of international law and establishes the right of a people subjected to foreign domination to gain its independence, joining in another state or at least to be able to independently choose their own political system.
The European Nations that are facing this problem are:
- Spain: the breakaway regions are Catalonia, Aragon, the Canary Islands, the Basque Country and Galicia.
- Great Britain: the independence movements are present in Scotland, but also in Cornwall, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- France: fears separatists in Corsica, Brittany and New Caledonia.
- Belgium: There are separatists between French and Flemish
- Slovakia: Hungarian minority claim to the wrongs suffered by the peace treaties after the First World War.
- Romania: has to face the presence of the Hungarian minority, the most important in terms of numbers.
- Italy: the major claims of independence came from the Northern League and the independence movements of Sicily and Sardinia.
Another problem that the European Union is facing is the advancing consensus of Eurosceptic parties. The phenomenon is revealed by the results of the last European elections. The theory Eurosceptic, although not recently codified, today, has been established and widespread in a capillary way, within all member States of the European Union.
A cause can be identified in the climate of economic crisis and the difficulties that Europe is experiencing. This situation comports the increase of the critical elements, of the people discontent and, as a direct consequence, of the utterances of this malaise.
The opposition of the Eurosceptic parties primarily concerned the following issues: the process of European integration, the adoption of the euro as a unique currency and also the immigration policies.
According to the Eurosceptic, in fact, the process of European political integration directly strikes the essence of the concept of the sovereign state. These arguments are shared and supported by the political parties and nationalist movements, which-from always-manifest reluctance to accept the loss of state sovereignty, the basis for the Union creation.
Another problem concerns the excessive bureaucracy of the European Union within the European institutions. It would be wrong to slow down, hinder and – at times-block European initiatives.
Even within the Eurosceptic parties, however, there are discrepancies. Some, in fact, would like their state to come out by the European Union, while others aim to eliminate the European Union itself.
We analyse the main political parties and movements Eurosceptic (grouped by country):
The Austrian Freedom Party (in German, invoking Österreichs, FPÖ) was founded in 1956, and it is nationalist and populist party. The party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, on the one hand, emphasizes the necessity of creation of new labour policies (especially in favour of the workers) and, on the other hand, pursues an anti-immigration policy, accompanied by a campaign against the Roma population.
The New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie in Belgium, N-VA) is a Flemish centre-right party, founded in 2001 – led by Bart De Wever. NVA claims the independence of Flanders, one of the three regions that make up Belgium. It also proposes some kind of federalism and economic proposals relating to the management of the EU budget. Among the Eurosceptic parties, the New Flemish Alliance is the party who had the most moderate program: it supports the Euro, the single market, a common defence and foreign policy at Community level.
The Front National (National Front in French): a right-wing nationalist movement founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen and led today by his daughter Marine Le Pen, who is President. Among the proposals in its program’s it wants the return to national currencies, the implementation of protectionist policies, the abolition of the Schengen Treaty (the system of free movement -in EU territory- of citizens of States that have signed the agreement). The FN has a strong opposition about the Roma population presence.
The Alternative for Germany (German Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) is a conservative party founded in 2013 by Bernd Lucke, an economist and professor of macroeconomics at the University of Hamburg. Lucke immediately proposed to hold a referendum to approve the transfer of sovereignty from the member states of the European Union, Germany’s exit from the Euro and the creation of monetary unions or alternative boundary parallel to the current one. Lucke has also spoken about energy policy, criticizing the willingness of Chancellor Angela Merkel want to shut down by 2020, all nuclear power plants operating in the country, arguing that such a choice could lead to an increase in energy prices.
Golden Dawn, the far-right nationalist party, has campaigned hard Eurosceptic, more than any other party in Europe. Much of the policy proposals of the movement (who denies being a neo-Nazi despite having many connotations) focus on the issue of immigration and the will to get out of the Euro. In recent years, the political action of the Golden Dawn was organized mainly through a series of protests, succeeding in some cases to influence (albeit indirectly) the government’s choices: non-EU nationals residing in Greece cannot vote (nor were able to nominate) in the European elections, even if they were born and raised in the country, according to an amendment approved by Parliament election Greek.
- Lega Nord (LN), founded in 1995 by Umberto Bossi. LN is against the bureaucratization of the EU and European integration. It also would be Italy’s exit from the euro as a unique currency and different (and more restrictive) immigration policies.
- Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), founded by former comedian Beppe Grillo, supports the need for Italy to exit from the Eurozone and a return to national currencies.
– The Netherlands
- The Party for Freedom (Dutch Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV): founded in 2004 by Geert Wilders, who is still the leader. It is a right-wing party, the populist anti-European orientation. PVV opposes Turkish membership in the European Union. The biggest political success of the PVV was the rejection in 2005 of the referendum for the creation of a European Constitution. Geert Wilders wants the Netherlands brought out by the European Union and the European institutions considered as a real bureaucratic dictatorship. Geert Wilders is also known for its critical stance towards Islam and it was always very hard towards the citizens of Moroccan origin who are in the Netherlands (not immigrants), and has always had good relations with the governments of the state of Israel (an aspect that distinguishes it from the positions of other Eurosceptic parties).
- The Socialist Party has always opposed to membership of the country to the EU.
- The Reformed Political Party, the oldest political party, Dutch, Calvinist orientation and Eurosceptic.
In the Netherlands all the Eurosceptic parties have criticized the free trade agreement, proposed by the United States, because it would jeopardize the production of local industries for the benefit of multinational corporations.
– United Kingdom
The UKIP was founded in 1993 by some members of the more conservative wing of the British Conservative Party. Among its major policy proposals are the withdrawal of the Maastricht Treaty and the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The leader of UKIP Nigel Farage, after being severely criticized by the other British parties, mainly as a result of a series of campaign posters as defined by many observers as racist, tried to mediate some of its positions: confirmed its intention to restrict access to a number of social benefits to about two million immigrants Community staying in the UK (mainly from the poorer EU countries such as Romania and Bulgaria), but has ruled to want to expel from the country. In addition, in the program of his party are asked to stop immigration for the next five years. The most discussed topic was that of labour in the party program concessions are offered in the labour market for British citizens, always at the expense of immigrants.
In any case, the Eurosceptic parties and movements have an impact on important political processes:
– In 2005, the European Constitution was rejected in referenda held in France and the Netherlands
– In 2008 another referendum in Ireland has rejected the European Treaty, which was to replace the European Constitution.
A defeat for the Eurosceptic, however, came with just the second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (held in 2009). At that 67.1% of Irish voters expressed for yes giving the final go-ahead for the ratification of the Treaty.