29.06.2020 | EU's ticking time bomb: How Spain could follow UK out of bloc in fatal blow to Brussels
Source - The Daily Express

At the end of May, France and Germany announced they are backing the creation of an EU bond to raise €500billion (£447billion) to boost the European economy, severely weakened by the coronavirus pandemic. The two leaders, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, unveiled their proposal in a joint video press conference. If approved, it would be the first time the bloc has pooled its debt in this way. Despite the unprecedented package, there are still doubts that it will quash anti-EU feelings completely, and put an end to political risks in the region. A recent poll shows that 67 percent of Italians believe that being a member of the bloc is a disadvantage for Italy. Moreover, this week, Italian Senator Gianluigi Paragone announced that he will soon launch a new party – and that the word “Italexit” could figure prominently in the new group’s logo. He told Bloomberg: “The EU and the euro were imposed from on high. "Tensions escalated when Catalonia voted for independence, which the Spanish state subsequently deemed unconstitutional. "The nationalist-led Catalonian government then unilaterally declared independence, which forced Madrid to impose direct rule over the region. Local government was eventually restored, but political leaders at the time of the referendum were indicted with nine found guilty of sedition and other charges. "During the crisis, the European Union refused to intervene and mostly backed Madrid, which pushed Catalonia’s nationalists into an increasingly eurosceptic direction.” According to Mr Rodriguez, nationalists in Catalonia are not Brussels’ only headache, as last year's decision by the EU Court of Justice has driven another movement in Spain towards euroscepticism. In December 2019, the EU court ruled that Catalan separatist politician Oriol Junqueras was covered by immunity as a member of the European Parliament when the Spanish Supreme Court jailed him in October, meaning that Spain should have released Mr Junqueras to allow him to become an MEP after the European Parliament elections of May. The ruling unleashed the eurosceptic side of rising Spanish nationalism with the word “Spexit” trending in the country. The outrage was led by leaders and members of the far-right, neo-Francoist party Vox. Mr Rodriguez continued: "These reactions are troubling for the European Union. Vox performed well in Spain’s general elections of November, and it’s the third-largest party in the Spanish legislature. "This has to be tied to recent polling findings in the Eurobarometer showing rising discontent with the European Union in Spain. "In Spain, the EU is now facing two rising Eurosceptics movements: the Catalan and Spanish nationalists. The key question is how the EU should proceed." The reality, Mr Rodriguez argued is that Brussels has little room to manoeuvre. He explained: "If it stays on the sideline in Catalonia’s independence debate, it stirs up euroscepticism within Catalonian nationalists; if it chooses to intervene, the same will be true for Spanish nationalists. Instead, Brussels should favour a policy of non-interference. "The EU member states are a hotbed of nationalist movements, and siding with the Catalonian nationalist will inflame similar movements around the continent. Moreover, Vox’s political rise can be paralleled with the influence of Nigel Farage’s Ukip and the influence the Brexit Party had in UK politics."

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