Europe's 27 states may think they can play hardball with the UK and Catalonia but the problem is much greater than that for keeping the union together. With regard to countries, the UK has gone for it, rightly or wrongly, but Holland toyed with the idea, so did France and Italy while some of the eastern members are not too happy with their lot either. Narrow that down and it’s not just a handful of countries which are watching Brexit closely before they plan their future.
Catalonia, irrespective of the Spanish constitution which is now facing probable reform, could act as an example to a host of regions across Europe which would also like to break away from their central governments. Madrid has just about managed to keep the Basque Country onside in Spain, but there are movements across Europe that could end up physically separating entire nations.
In the 2017 edition of its annual Transforming World Atlas - which uses maps and other data visualisations to illustrate major global issues - Bank of America Merrill Lynch focuses one map on the growing secessionist movement across the continent. "Many areas in Europe have strong secessionist movements (e.g. Scotland, Catalonia, Basque, Flanders, Veneto) or have political parties agitating for greater ruling autonomy," the report’s authors wrote this week. Even Yorkshire, due to its size, feels that it should perhaps enjoy more autonomous rights. How long can the union stay united?
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