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Leonid Bershidsky

Will EU Integration Create More Catalonias?

The more federalist Europe becomes, the less regions may see a need for the nation.
The fruits of European integration?

The fruits of European integration?

Photographer: Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images

The Catalan authorities appeared poised Monday to stop short of an official independence declaration after some important businesses based in Catalonia voted with their feet and at least 350,000 people marched for Spanish unity in Barcelona on Sunday. If the crisis is defused, it will be an important victory for Spain's uncompromising Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. But it should leave European leaders wondering whether they'd be able to keep separatism in check within a closer-knit European Union.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and French President Emmanuel Macron recently made impassioned calls for more European federalism. Between them, they talked about a common budget, a common military force, common immigration and tax policies, transnational elections. Would Europe's independent-minded territories -- not just Catalonia, but literally dozens of regions with active separatist movements -- be more tempted to secede if this much authority were delegated from the national governments to the union? Why, after all, should a region pay, and subordinate itself to, an intermediary if it can get a seat at the federation table?