It is the 1st Sunday in October 2017, people are out on the streets, Spanish riot police are present in large numbers, ransacking polling stations in Barcelona, removing ballot box’s and arresting protesters. It is the 21st Century, and Spain, as an important part of the European Union, is refusing to let the Catalans express their constitutional right to vote. The referendum and vote for independence, which the central Spanish government says is against Spanish law – not perhaps EU law – seems to be causing havoc in a country, which historically is no stranger to such dissent. By this evening’s count, some 850 people have been injured during the Spanish police intervention.
During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the republican side was largely from the Catalan area, which was then very left wing, and even communist in part. It has always shown a marked independence, if not a somewhat dim view of central government control, and has always chosen to govern itself.
The question in most people’s minds is, if the present unrest is a re-enactment of past dissent, the Franco regime, and the resulting Spanish national identity? A onetime battleground of Fascism versus Socialism, are we now seeing resentments from the past enveloping the European Union itself, in the light of Brexit, and the alleged requirement of the British people, to withdraw from EU membership?
People are always talking about freedom, especially at the moment in the UK, often showing ignorance of the EU Charter of Human Rights, which denotes the following, and so one wonders what all the fuss is about.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU brings together, in a single document, the fundamental rights protected in the EU. The Charter contains rights and freedoms under six titles: Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights, and Justice. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union entails the right:-
- To non-discrimination on the basis of nationality when the Treaty applies
- To move and reside freely within the EU
- To vote for and stand as a candidate in the European Parliament and municipal elections
- To be protected by the diplomatic and consular authorities any other EU country
- To petitionthe European Parliament and complainto the European Ombudsman
- To contact and receive a responsefrom any EU institution in one of the EU’s official languages
Well, it couldn’t be clearer than that, but once more national governments are ignoring the EU rules, rights and laws, and choosing to go their own way. Since Junkers admitted ambition is to federate the states of Europe, and to make it into one homogeneous lump, would that not cure many of the ‘Flat Earthers,’ from banging the drum of independence, and trying to dominate each others territory.
Catalonia already has its own president and parliament, as do all the present EU territories, and the Island of Ireland in particular. While David Davis vacillates over a soft Irish border, can he and his cohorts not see the easy solution staring them in the face? Scotland would not be far behind, should EU federation occur – another word for devolution – and would willingly join the queue. All the federal politicians could be left to pontificate at their leisure, filling the air with their largely uninformed and irrelevant blabber, which would also allow the EU to move into its second most publicized position, regarding income levels.
Whereas the socially disadvantaged are often forced to go cap in hand to the local authorities – or visit food banks in order to eat – the unworkable universal credit could be dumped, together with intrusive and humiliating means tests, and replaced by one workable scheme – not just in the suburbs of metropolitan London and Paris – but throughout the whole of Europe.
By Patrick Brigham