The Catalan independence movement in Spain and the Venetian and Lombard autonomous ones in Italy have concerned some observers who are worried that the EU might be falling apart at the seams of nationalism just like the USSR did before it. In and of itself, there's nothing new in the fact that differing degrees of separatism are present within the EU, but it nowadays seems like everything is quickly coming to a head and that these movements are enjoying more support than ever before. Part of the reason behind this rests in the popular perception that the EU in its present format is as ineffective as the USSR was in its dying days, and that the growing squabbles between some regions and their national governments might presage the unravelling of the bloc as a whole.
It's pertinent to mention that Western Europe has yet to see a revision of its post-World War II borders, unlike Eastern Europe which underwent German Reunification, the dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia, and the dismembering of Serbia, which is why the latest developments in this part of the EU are attracting so much attention. Catalonia has a chance at becoming independent, but Madrid is doing everything in its power to prevent this from happening. As for the regions of Northern Italy, they only want more autonomy, but granting them more independent control over their finances could put the country on a slippery slope since it might interfere with Italy's budget allocations to the poorer regions of the south and eventually provoke a counter-reaction there.
The prevailing theme amid all this geopolitical speculation is the very essence of nationalism itself, the modern manifestation of which came to the fore of the European mentality only in the 19th century. Nation-states such as Spain, Italy, France, and even Germany are nowadays presumed to be united entities, though this conclusion overlooks some of the stronger regional identities within their borders and the "economic nationalism" that they've acquired in recent years. As ethno-regional and economic fault lines in the EU widen as a result of the financial and migrant crises, Brussels is beginning to look just as powerless as Moscow was in the post-Cold War twilight years of the USSR when its own identity crisis became uncontrollable.
Robin Öberg, a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Exeter, originally from Sweden, and Evans Agelissopoulos, political commentator from Greece, joined the discussion.
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