Eurozone Crisis and Rising regional sentiments in Eurozone countries
In recent times, the Eurozone Crisis, has played a role in fanning regional sentiments in some of the Eurozone countries. Between some countries tensions already existed which only got exacerbated following the crisis.
Here are some important observations
It is quite natural for a country to prioritize nationalism over anything else when faced with dilemma in the web of International Relations. This has widened the gap between rich and poor countries, some countries demanding more political and administrative autonomy and independence in other cases.
Very recently the Norwegian Prize jury conferred European Union with the Nobel Peace Prize for fostering peace on a continent ravaged by war in the past. Prior to euro crisis Eurozone was witnessed in the international fora as a benchmark for regional integration. But post the turmoil this feeling has certainly subsided among the international observers.
Among the Eurozone members regional priorities have been specifically flared up by countries under great economic distress like Spain, Belgium and Italy. But still the biggest culprit is said to be Germany. Since a long time it has been an engine for EU integration but recent crisis has disillusioned Germany political leadership with EU. As a result regional interests have dominated Germany over its pro EU stance. To add to the misery the recent Franco-German relations make it look even more difficult to handle the EU crisis.
In Spain the Catalan Nationalism has been worst hit by EU Crisis. Catalan became a nationality with the creation in autonomous region of Catalonia as per the directives of 1978 Constitution. Catalonia though being the wealthiest region of Spain was not granted full autonomy to collect its taxes and their expenditure. Feeling which crept in was that its contribution is more than it receives.
In November 2011, the Mariano Rajoy Government further tightened the control of central government in the regulation of regional budgets. This led to a political crisis. Though there is a speculation regarding Catalonian secession a poll in September showed that only 43% people want full statehood. May be future liberalization in the taxation policies will prevent its secession.
The major cause of tension in Germany is the economic and developmental differences that persist between the eastern and the western states. Most of the riches are found in the western states with most of the commercial and industrial activities around the Danube and Rhine rivers.
These wealthier states have started to feel that their contribution to the GDP is more that what they get in return. This feeling got exacerbated only by the EU Crisis. In July, the governments of Bavaria and Hesse questioned the uneven distribution system with expressing their will to reduce their net contribution. Despite these issues the overall integration of Germany cannot be doubted at least at present.
Since the mid 1800s Italy has witnessed developmental differences between northern and southern regions with some of the richest Europeans residing in the north which represents Italy’s financial epicenter. In contrast the southern states have been more dependent on agriculture and thus lacking in infrastructural developments.
This long lasting economic divide has been the reason quite obvious for political instability with country witnessing frequent separatist movements. In July Sicily was granted a loan of 522 million dollars by the central government.
This act drew heavy criticism from the northern states especially because Sicily has been affected by financial management, scandals and corruption. After EU Crisis the sentiments for secession among the northern states only have been fanned up. In near future anything is unpredictable as apart from Northern League (a political party dominant in north Italy) no other party has supported secession.
In spite of the wave of regionalism which has crept in EU it remains a benchmark for regional integration. Rule of single currency among different nation states has showed the world that it wrong to say that nations with a history of war cannot be kept in union. If the EU disintegrates which the international observers say is very unlikely, the heat would be felt globally. Thus in order to avoid any such mis-happening it is not yet late for the global leaders to put in positive intervention. UN, US, India, China, Japan, Russia and all those whose stakes are threatened due to this crisis should take immediate steps. The need is to revamp the trust of nation states in the EU’s doctrine of regional integration.