Roland Dürre
Friday October 6th, 2017

Catalonia

My Dream of EUROPE

La senyera – The Catalonian Flag.

Currently, everybody talks about Catalonia. So I will also add my “five cent”:

I would be quite glad if Catalonia were to secede from Spain. It would not do any harm to Europe, either. On the contrary.

And Catalonia would not be able to escape the EURO, either. Consequently, we would also have to permit them to remain in the EU and ignore a possible veto from Spain if Catalonia applies for EU membership. After all, they already were members, which means that it is not a new membership.

Maybe the remainder of Spain wants to continue with the monarchy as established by Franco and apply for leaving the EU? However, I would not recommend it to them. They definitely should refrain from re-erecting Franco monuments and leave fascism well alone.

We might need a few additional stars – just like we need more of them in the skies?

But this is not about Catalonia. For me, it is all about a vision for Europe that would probably contribute a little towards solving a few of the current problems.

What we need is a EUROPE that is a close-knit federation of regions (i.e. regional countries or states). These regions should have more or less the same size and thus be able to cooperate at eye-level. My assumption is: the smaller the states, the more of them we have and the closer they are connected, the better!

To be sure, to make it a success, a few requirements that are hard to meet would need to be fulfilled:

  1. A federation of European regions would have to serve the people – and not the entrepreneurs, concerns and speculators.    
For me, that is a central requirement. Consequently, free markets at any price, the mindless abolition of borders do not have priority. Limitless growth, maximum consumption for all and unlimited riches cannot be the ultimate goal of a new “federation of values Europe”.  Just like a misinterpreted freedom without duties is not a value.
  2. Europe cannot be allowed to become an end in itself.    
Europe must not aim at becoming a superpower and have an internationally leading role, perhaps even be some kind of new world police. Because that is not what we need and besides, a Europe that develops sustainably will have an important role worldwide with huge influence anyway, even without nuclear weapons and carriers.
  3. Solidarity is not something that is achieved through subsidies.    
Solidarity between regions and humans cannot be achieved by handing out cheques. In particular, it cannot be achieved exclusively by handing out cheques. The subsidies for farming in the old EU are a good example. They destroyed exactly what they (perhaps) wanted to preserve.
  4. The national states must go.    
That is true for all of them, especially the big ones like Germany, France, Italy, Spain … (and also Great Britain, which, as of now, is still part of it). Because we no longer need all this nationally dominated lamenting – we could actually leave it, for instance, to soccer.

For me, the points 1 and 4 are the most important.

Ad 1.)  What is so bad about a county protecting its local markets and characteristics in a reasonable way? What is so bad about more control if crime increases? As I see it, you need some kind of border control when you have reached a certain dimension. And if that is so, then I prefer a systematic and controlled way of doing it, rather than  the haphazard way we see today.
In a living and responsibly functioning Europe, there can be no room for lobbyism and the currently existing oligarchy of interest groups they call parties.
This may sound unimaginable, because you need to re-define democracy and probably you will also need a more direct democracy. But we are entitled to some utopian ideas!
Because we have the right (and the obligation) to preserve the European cultures in all their diversity and to also preserve a heterogeneous Europe. This must be explicitly desired in a Europe of regions. It must be discussed together and supported by ample means. Otherwise, Europe will never really materialize.
And it must happen in the interest of all people – except the speculators and some super rich individuals or super powerful systems. Especially if they are de-personalized and have become independent.

Ad 4.)  
How nice would it be to have a Europe of smallish regions. The reasons why it would be nice are mostly rational. Basically, small and self-organised systems always work better than big ones, especially if those big ones are also controlled and administered externally. Flat hierarchies make a realistic form of subsidiarity easier. Politically spoken, we would only have two, rather than – as today – three hierarchical levels in the “upper echelons”.
In this model, the EU would be the top level and the international presence of all regions. It is controlled by the council of the regions, all of which can have their own autonomous structures. The nationally infected level in between, for instance Berlin, Paris, Rome – or, in this case, Madrid – would be gone for good.
You would also no longer need a veto right for individual states (no matter if we are talking a few 100,000 people or 80 million). It would be replaced by a qualified majority in the council of regions.
Whenever a region falters or behaves totally irrational, which is something that can always happen, it would be easier to heal than today. Just remember how impossible it is to influence a country like Poland. In a system at eye-level, it would also be easier and more direct to practice solidarity than it can be done with the current EU sprinkling system.
In other words, the EU would have to consist of “states” none of which can be bigger than, for example, Bavaria. But perhaps even Bavaria is too big to be just one EU region? Even here, a reasonable division is quite feasible, and thus at least a good solution would be possible.
So we have to divide the national states. It would be easy for the FR of Germany, because we already have a rather reasonable county structure. You could just take it (and perhaps improve it as suggested in the last paragraph). I would leave small states like Bremen or Hamburg. If currently Estonia qualifies for EU membership, why should not the two proud German Hanseatic Cities be a region each – just like Estonia would be a region?

If we wish to heal EUROPE, then we may and must definitely have and strive towards these kinds of utopian ideas! Otherwise it will never become true! And then comes the big hangover!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Here is a positive idea about the so detrimental shared currency:    
I basically believe that the best solution would be to have different currencies according to the “maturity/state” of a region (I will call them EURO1, EURO2 and EUROn). But that is a very complicated topic. I would rather not discuss it here.
However, here is a positive idea if you have only one EURO: It is quite possible that one EURO for all regions– regardless of many disadvantages – could also have a huge advantage. One EURO for all of them would be something like the iron ring that holds them all together. And thus it makes it impossible to exit and helps when it comes to overcoming future regional crises. But then, that would again need another utopia to become reality – a currency policy of the EZB that differs from the one currently witnessed under “Super-Mario“ Draghi.

3 Kommentare zu “Catalonia”

  1. Hans Bonfigt (Monday October 9th, 2017)

    Hallo Roland,
    man merkt, daß Sie weit und viel gereist sind.

    Für die weitaus überwiegende europäische Mehrheit trifft das nicht zu, und so wünschen sich die meisten Menschen ihre Mikrostaaten zurück, “Klein, aber mein”.
    So ist es mit der Tschechoslowakei passiert, mit Jugoslawien, mit der UDSSR…

    Ohne Europäer — kein Europa.

  2. Guido Bruch (Friday October 27th, 2017)

    Lieber Roland,
    ich finde viele Gedanken wieder, die auch in mir trage. Ich frage mich zusätzlich, ob die Digitalisierung nicht zusätzlich “Kleinstaaterei” (wobei Katalonien ja mehr Einwohner als viele EU-Staaten hätte) begünstigt.
    In Zeiten von AirBnB, Uber oder der dezentralen Energieerzeugung, d.h. in denen jeder mit Hilfe einer App ein Unternehmer sein könnte, könnte die EU quasi auch Apps mit Gesetzen anbieten.
    Die kleineren Staaten kreuzen in der Admin-Seite das für sie passende an incl. Steuersätze an. D.h. die EU wird Service-Provider und bindet so die Länder an sich. Katalonien hätte vermutlich auch kein Problem damit von der EU gegenüber großen Ländern vertreten zu werden.
    Das alte, nationale Denke incl. eigene Steckdosen-Norm für jedes Land will vermutlich sowieso keiner mehr. Uns diese nationale Eigenbrötlerei abzugewöhnen hat die EU ja gut geschafft.
    Was die Grenzen betrifft, denke ich, dass offene Grenzen und Kontrollen kein Widerspruch sind. China scannt an seiner Westgrenze jeden LKW, so das Handelsblatt, und treibt dennoch regen Handel.

  3. rd (Saturday October 28th, 2017)

    Lieber Guido, vielen Dank für Deinen Kommentar mit wie ich finde sehr stützenden und gut abgewogenen Argumenten.

    Einem Satz kann ich nur teilweise zu stimmen. Du schreibst:
    Das alte, nationale Denken incl. eigener Steckdosen-Norm für jedes Land will vermutlich sowieso keiner mehr.
    Dazu meine ich, dass freilich jeder am liebsten mit seinem gewohnten und geliebten Stecker alle Steckdosen auf der ganzen Welt nutzen können will. Und dabei vergisst, dass es durchaus viele Menschen gibt, die ohne verläßlichen Strom leben.

    Der Wunsch nach “heiligen” nationalen Symbolen und Ritualen lebt in meiner Wahrnehmung aber nicht nur in Deutschland an Schwung auf. Ich vermute, dass die Menschen sich davon eine Sicherheit vor einer Veränderung versprechen, die so oder so kommt. So versuchen sie Ängste ankämpfen, die in ihren Köpfen stattfinden und immer stärker werden.
    Und ich fürchte, dass es immer mehr werden, die sich nach den alten Strukturen mit klaren Feindbildern sehnen. Und vom Feindbild zum Hass ist es halt nicht weit.
    Da ich viele Menschen kenne, denen es genau vor dieser nationaler Symbolik und Rhetorik graut, meine ich, dass auch dies – neben der wachsenden Polarisierung im materiellen Bereich (arm und reich), bei Arbeit (wachsendes “Service-Proletariat” versus einer immer kleiner werdenden Kaste mit extrem hohen Einkommen und interessanten Aufgaben) und in der Bildung (junge bestausgebildete versus extrem ungebildete Menschen) – die Spaltung unserer Gesellschaft weiter verschärft.

    Zu den Apps: In jeder Software wird heute selbstverständlich ein sogenannter NLS-System (national language support) genutzt. Das sorgt dafür, dass auch Apps einfach in vielen Sprachen erstellt werden können. Genauso könnte man regionale Unterschiede bei Regeln und Gesetzen einfach in einem RRS-System (regional regulation support) lösen.
    So könnte man auch vernünftig regionale Währungen handhaben – und dann einfach festlegen, dass diese nicht spekulativ sondern nur für Warenaustausch eingesetzt werden (was nach meiner Meinung trivial gelöst werden könnte).
    Noch eine ganz frische Erfahrung:
    Wir sind letzte Woche von Magdeburg nach Saalfeld geradelt. Es war wunderschön, auch weil die Saale nicht so schrecklich zerstört ist wie der Lech in Bayern. Ich war aber auch wieder mal verblüfft, wie wesentlich billiger man in diesen Regionen leben kann, verglichen z.B. mit “meiner” Region um München. Die Kaufkraft eines EURO in Maua und Jena ist halt immer noch deutlich höher als in Neubiberg, gerade wenn man an die Grundbedürfnisse wie Wohnen und Ernährung betrachtet … Und von einem EURO-Gehalt, mit dem man in München betteln gehen muss, kann man in Rudolstadt gut leben.
    Was wieder zu ganz neuen Gedanken führt!

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