Are Welsh nationalists falling out of love with the EU?

The EU Parliament building

Ifan Morgan Jones

A week ago today I was at the European Parliament building in Brussels taking part in a discussion on the media in stateless nations.

In many ways, the event summed up all that is good about the EU. It brought experts and journalists together from the Basque Country, Catalonia, Wales and other nations to discuss how best to bolster our respective medias – such as the site you’re reading now.

In the week since then, I’ve seen the mood sour somewhat, as the Welsh national movement, as well as others across Europe, have baulked at the EU’s actions.

The obvious catalyst was the EU Commission’s failure to condemn the anti-democratic police brutality in Catalonia on Sunday.

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Those who expected the EU to intervene share the Brexiteer’s delusion – which is that the EU’s interests are somehow divorced from those of its constituent member states.

In fact, the EU is its member states, and its failure to condemn the attacks in Catalonia reflect the fact that every EU member state has an interest in not allowing Catalonia to become independent.

There is not one member of the EU without a national movement somewhere within its shores and the last thing they want to do is be giving Scotland, the Basque Country, Flanders, Corsica, Brittany, Wales, and others, ideas.

The Catalonia issue has revealed another, deeper problem with the EU however which Welsh nationalists have been loath to face up to.

Ever closer union

Welsh Nationalists have tended to support the EU for five main reasons:

  1. It allows us to contrast our internationalism with the isolationism of British nationalism
  2. Many of the nations of Europe declared their independence in the past few decades – they’re an inspiration we look up to and can learn from
  3. The EU often gets the credit for the peace in Europe following the Second World War, and there’s a long tradition of pacifism in our movement
  4. Life as an ‘independent nation’ within the EU is a credible alternative to life within the UK
  5. Bilingual Wales with its own culture feels more at ease within a multilingual, multicultural union of the EU than within the UK where one language and culture dominates.

You can still make a good case for the first four, but I think that the next few years are going to challenge our perceptions of the latter.

The history of the nation-states shows that in the long-term they always do one thing, without fail, which is to break down the cultural and linguistic differences between peoples.

In order to be able to impose one government on a people, you need to convince them that they’re fundamentally similar enough, linguistically and culturally, that such an arrangement makes sense.

Note that when the French state came into being France was far from being culturally and linguistically homogenous. It took until after the Second World War to ensure that was the case.

Look at Wales itself – brought into a modern nation-state through the Acts of Union. The process of assimilation started afterwards.

This is done through the education system, the press and also by making linguistic and cultural integration a requirement for good public sector jobs.

In the case of the EU, Brexit is only likely to hasten this process, for two reasons:

  • The UK was suspicious of any attempt at further EU integration and tended to act as a brake on it.
  • The EU will have learnt its lesson, which is that allowing other national movements to hold sway within the EU is a mortal danger to the EU itself.

Over the next few decades, as the EU centralises power, it will begin to integrate its people. This will be essential to its success – otherwise, it will break apart.

Union of the Regions

This tweet by Guy Verhofstadt on the subject of the Catalan Referendum is very interesting in the context of this discussion.

What we have here is an attempt to belittle Catalonia’s claim to nationhood by suggesting it should be happy to remain just one cultural area within a broader Spanish nation.

But there’s something else going on here. In fact, what Guy’s doing here is to belittle Spain’s claim to nationhood as well. Within the EU, Spain is just another linguistic and cultural area.

What’s being said is that it doesn’t really matter whether Catalonia is independent of Spain or not, because soon they’re both going to be regions of one nation-state called the EU.

Independence

Despite all I’ve said here, I remain pro-EU, and in fact believe that such a union is a far more attractive place to be, economically and culturally, than the ‘little Britain’ Wales will exist in post-Brexit.

However, we shouldn’t fool ourselves about the direction of travel in the EU. A lot of the problems that currently exist within the UK – the centralisation of power, cultural and linguistic integration – are just as likely to exist within the EU in the long term.

An independent Wales won’t be a choice between the EU as it currently exists and Brexit Britain.

It’s going to be between remaining a devolved part of the United Kingdom, or becoming a state within a much more closely integrated United States of Europe. Which would we rather be?

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62 Comments

  1. I certainly am!

    I voted remain, but now think leaving was a stroke of genius after their hypocrisy over Catalonia! Its collapse is now imminent.

  2. I was disappointed by their failure to severely condemn the violence used by the Francoist Spanish state. The EU needs to put pressure on the Spanish govt to enter into a dialogue with the Catalan govt.

  3. IMJ said – ” A lot of the problems that currently exist within the UK – the centralisation of power, cultural and linguistic integration – are just as likely to exist within the EU in the long term.” Ifan bach, it’s already well under way. I backed Brexit not because I wanted to cosy up to the Farage – Gove – Johnson axis but saw it as Step 1 to something different away from all these power crazy corporate state nutjobs in Brussels and London.Cameron was their main man in U.K and now we have May who does a convincing job of putting on the brakes on a U.K departure.

    Our goals must be – out of EU, out of UK, then we can but hope that we will have a few more new independent states in Western Europe that we can engage with in a saner and safer form of politics. The sooner the likes of U.K, France, Germany, Italy and Spain get dismembered the better for all the rest.

  4. Many good points raised in this article.

    Strangely, the UK has always sought an eu that is a federation of independent nation states. It should have stayed in and argued for that. Britain = England would have allies in this idea in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The idea that France would countenance losing its cultural identity is hard to accept.

    The eu is a political project formed to prevent wars similar to the blood bath of WW2, it has far reaching ambitions. Not all those ambitions need to be realized, nor should they be. I would be the poorer in a world losing its many cultures, languages and ways of thought.

    Eventually, of course the eu will fail and morff into something else, or simply disappear. One of its challenges will be how it can deal with the increasing demands for independence from stateless nations. The eu happily accepted the Baltic states following the demise of the soviet union – even thought their security vis a vis Russia is still questionable.

    And is the duality of choices remaining in a devolved Uk or a more closely integrated eu to be the actual shape of the future?

    To some extent, nations make their own history – we have some choice.

    However the fact that our national ‘Assemblly’ is so luke warm to further devolution does not augur well for our future: we ought right now to be laying out the foundations for a new Cymru. One that is more or less independent; one idea, a celtic confederation of Cymru, Scotland and all the ancient realms of Ireland. Such a region could provide the English with what they want and need, namely to simultaneously be in and out of the eu!

    • Don’t ever expect much from Y Cynulliad by way of initiative on independence or further devolution, especially while it is led by Labour with Tories in & out of 2nd place. These are Unionist parties who despise any thought of independence. Even a member contemplating that old intermediate status – Dominion – gets regarded as a bit of a hothead by the party loyalists whose ambitions are focussed on Westminster/Whitehall. And there’s dear old Plaid, heading for corpse status unless it wakes up and gets its act together, more focussed on finding ways of getting brownie points for helping Labour govern than tearing into Labour in Wales and the Mayhem regime in London for making the mess we are now in.

      I guess we are in danger of being consigned to the spectators’ seats as other small nations with a damn sight more backbone get on with their projects while we play at politics.

  5. Dean Williams

    I too have been coming around to this way of thinking. I’m increasingly convinced a period away from EU state aid rules is exactly what Wales needs. Public procurement here is abysmal. So much tax money disappears out of Wales. Nominet is the perfect example. Every time a .wales or .cymru domain name is bought the money leaves Wales. Plaid likes to talk about procurement but the truth is when they were in government they signed plenty of contracts that could have gone to Welsh companies, if they’d really put the effort in. Yet they didn’t. But who’s making these arguments on EU state aid now? Unfortunately, it’s Jeremy Corbyn. Plaid went the way of globalisation a long time ago. It’s economic policy seems totally focused on the so-called free market and free trade deals. Haven’t heard mention of community socialism, the party’s supposed aim, in a long time. But this is what happens when trendy liberals run the party, who are more interested in virtue signalling (for want of a better phrase) than radically helping the Welsh working class.

    • Red Dragon Jim

      But Corbyn is wrong on state aid. Jeremy Corbyn’s arguments on state aid require us to leave the European Single Market. Sometimes, if it smells like snake oil, it really is.

      You can undertake nationalisation within the EU or Single Market, be it Cardiff Airport, Deutsche Bahn or Électricité de France.

      You can undertake state aid (subsidies) within the EU or Single Market, as long as it complies with the rules or fulfils criteria to be an exemption. The UK currently spends 0.35% of its GDP on legal, permitted state aid within the EU rules. France spends 0.62%, Finland 1.03% and Germany 1.22%. The UK could comfortably double its expenditure on state aid within the EU rules, and have the state playing a more active role in economic or industrial policy.

      Owning and operating public sector companies (if that is your wish) is legal and permitted in the EU or Single Market within reason, and generally-speaking, the state plays a significant role in the economies of most EU member-states.

      Plaid Cymru is allowed to ignore the “so-called free market and free trade deals” if they want to, but they would be just as wrong as Corbyn, and it would be fundamentally bad for Wales. Procurement and state aid policy outside the EU will either be replaced by the WTO GPA rules and subsidy rules, or a bilateral UK-EU deal. Granted, the WTO subsidy rules are far more generous than the EU state aid rules, but come with quite punitive tarrifs which could put the future of much industry and agriculture in our country at risk.

      The question is, what do Welsh economic policymakers want to do that requires EU state aid rules to be abolished? The only answers are expensive, large-scale nationalisations or industrial subsidies.

      We need to seriously raise the intellectual game on debates around subsidy, free trade and globalisation. This is also a ripe area for Plaid Cymru to say they are different to and opposed to Corbyn, if they wish to identify such areas. They should attack him on this, not align with him as Dean Williams suggests.

      I’ve not even touched the issue of Catalonia which is a fundamental stain on the EU Commission, but should be of no surprise whatsoever based on the parties who run it. I have a strong passion for Catalonia and have followed that country’s politics for years. I am disgusted by the EU Commission’s default position, which is a million miles from the “Brussels superstate” which interferes with everything, it displays the opposite mentality. Looking the other way.

      But it has almost no relevance to the quality of EU state aid and procurement rules and their effect on Wales.

  6. Eos Pengwern

    Absolutely; I’ve been banging on since I got here about how the logical arguments for Brexit and Welsh independence are inseperable, and the pro-EU wing of the national movement has been undermining its own cause by demonising the Brexiteers among us (which to be fair, Ifan has scrupulously – and almost uniquely – refrained from doing). I must add, though, that just as Ifan’s ‘reason 5’ is falling apart, so the other 4 have never really been valid:

    – there is nothing intrinsically isolationist about nationalism, and the UKIPers I’ve encountered are fired up by the opportunity for the UK to interact with the world directly, rather than from under the muffle of the EU.
    – the EU has been no help in this process at all
    – the credit for peace in Europe goes entirely to NATO: I can’t see how the EU has contributed in any way. And as for pacifism, speak for yourself. Si vis pacem, para bellum.
    – you’re either independent or your not – moving from one empire to another is not independence.

    • Si vis pacem, para bellum Os ych chi’n moyn heddwch, paratoi ar gyfer rhyfel! Cytuno’n llwyr. The reason that EUophiles hang on to these mythic reasons to remain in the EU is because it is a belief, not a conclusion based on fact. Beliefs are powerful, hard to dislodge, and sometimes dangerous.

  7. The title of this article and a number of statements within indicate a belief that Welsh nationalists are, by and large, pro EU. I don’t think this is true although I understand why Ifan many may believe that is the case. It is hard to avoid getting trapped in an ‘echo chamber’ both online and in the real world. One gets surrounded by people that think as you do and it’s easy to think that you are part of the majority. This may explain why the Welsh Brexit referendum result was a shock to so many.

    A more accurate portal of Welsh nationalists would be to divide us into two camps: country nationalists and cosmopolitan nationalists.

    Country nationalists derive their identity from family, friends, community and place. Being Welsh (whether Welsh speaking or not) is simply a fact, not something that has to be dwelt on, constructed or preserved by institutions. Country nationalists tend to be conservative and practical, valuing the here and now. Country nationalists would have more likely voted to leave the EU.

    Cosmopolitan nationalists are more concerned about national institutions like the Assembly and politics in general, and things further afield, such as our place in the UK, the EU and UN. Cosmopolitan nationalists are hyper-sensitive to the issue of identity, trying to reconstruct Welsh identity inclusive of other peoples from away (which they call civic nationalism), to avoid being called the dreaded R word. Most cosmopolitan nationalists would have voted to remain in the EU. Plaid Cymru is the party for cosmopolitan nationalists.

    Cosmopolitan nationalists enjoy a much louder presence on social media and the web. Many country nationalists are probably too busy working to make their presence felt online. This gives the illusion that cosmopolitan nationalists are greater in number and ‘the norm’. I doubt that is the case.

    In a nutshell, cosmopolitan nationalists are more ideological whereas country nationalists are more pragmatic. This explains why Plaid Cymru and its cosmopolitan nationalist supporters remain blind to the anti-democratic and oppressive forces of the EU. Perhaps the EU’s response to the referendum in Catalonia is a wake up call. About time!

    • Your division of Welsh nationalism into ‘country’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ nationalists is a very interesting one, and reflects to a certain extent what I said here: http://ifanmj.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/the-back-row-and-welsh-nationalism.html

      However there certainly seems to be a correlation between Welsh nationalism and support for the EU: The most politically nationalist and Welsh speaking areas in Wales voted to stay in the EU.

      I would argue also that the fact that country nationalists aren’t aware or don’t care about the factors that preserve Welsh nationalism doesn’t mean they don’t do so! Without institutions filled with cosmopolitan nationalists there wouldn’t be a Wales for country nationalists to feel an affinity for.

      Ifan

      • When you say ‘most politically nationalist’ I think you mean Plaid Cymru core voters.

        As to your statement that “country nationalists aren’t aware or don’t care about the factors that preserve Welsh nationalism” – I would respond that country nationalists ARE the factors that preserve Welsh identity. Institutions are but pale reflections of the living and breathing Welsh culture and life.

        The front row and back row distinction you make in your blog is interesting, even if, as you concede, too simplistic. A better distinction is made in David Goodhart’s The Road To Somewhere – a compelling critique of elite-based politics http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-roots-of-populism/19619

        • Eos Pengwern

          Spot on; a fundamental mistake of the ‘progressive’ wing of the nationalist movement in Wales is that national consciousness can be created top-down, and language and culture preserved by governmental fiat. It’s certainly true that governments can do a lot to destroy culture, but they’re pretty bad at promoting it: the efforts of the Irish Republic to foster the Irish language is a good object lesson is how successful that tends to be.

          Generally speaking, people feel good about their culture when they feel good about themselves and their circumstances in life, and the main levers that the government has to achieve that are freedom and economic prosperity – the very things that ‘progressive’ politics militates against on all fronts. If being Welsh became associated with being economically buoyant and successful, rather then economically backwards and resentful, then I don’t doubt that Welsh culture would surge forwards: much as described in the first part of Islwyn Ffowc Elis’s “Wythnos yng Nhymru Fydd”, which is long overdue an English translation (I’d love nothing better than to do it myself if I could find the time).

          Unfortunately it’s not remotely likely that that will ever happen (the prosperity I mean, not the Ffowc Elis translation) for as long as Wales remains a fiefdom of the Labour Party, propped up by a Plaid Cymru who seem totally to have forgotten what they’re supposed to be for.

          • Sioned Phillips

            Do you really think that Wales could be prosperous as an independent country outside the EU?

            • Eos Pengwern

              Absolutely I do. Why on earth wouldn’t I?

              • Outside the single market, outside the customs union? Or with some bespoke deal, perhaps like Norway?

                • Angharad, Wales would be better off if it aimed for economic autarky instead of being part of a trading block designed by and for big finance engaged in economic warfare and a global race to the bottom. The EU (and UK) represent an up-side-down world of increasing economic injustice as the filthy wealthy become more filthy and wealthy while the rest of us struggle on in crushing deb-slavery and poverty. Forget global markets and fake free trade deals. It the road to destitution, not prosperity. Have we learnt nothing in the last 20 odd years of neo-liberal lies and false promises?

                  • Unicorns. We live in a globalised world. Even the UK as a whole cannot hope to be an economic island.

                    The UK has indeed been a country of increasing economic injustice. Were it not for the EU, and regulations protecting workers from exploitation, I have no doubt that the governments of the last 7 years would have made this even worse. It’s a right wing wet dream. The EU is a strong force against large corporations. It has huge economic power. It has the ability to fine companies who use unfair trading practices, and it does. In the event of Brexit, power will shift from the EU to the large corporations, who will screw us over.

                    The fantasy that Britain is able to stand alone in this world and negotiate deals as good as the EU belies an imperialist mindset which should be confined to the history books. The suggestion that Wales could do this is astonishing.

                • Eos Pengwern

                  Though Glasiad has been on top form here for the past couple of days I’m not with him on the autarky thing: I remain in favour of free trade, but it works a lot better for companies which have their independence – and I do mean full independence, including their own currency. Take Brexit as an example: suppose there is no trade deal (which is beginning to look like the most likely outcome unless the government starts visibly planning for it – si vis pacem para bellum, once again). On leaving the EU we’d revert to WTO trade rules and tariffs. If we were in the Euro then this would be a complete disaster. Since we’re not, however, all that would happen is that the pound will devalue so that British exports will remain competitively priced within the world market, while imported goods become more expensive (though many foodstuffs are likely to become much cheaper because the high EU tariff barriers will be gone). The likely outcome of that is a manufacturing and export boom: bring it on I say. But the UK will only be able to benefit because it is independent and controls its own currency.

                  But to answer Sioned’s question in more detail: why, really, shouldn’t Wales be prosperous? The things that make nations prosperous are well known: small government, low taxes, a stable legal system, good education, infrastructure focused on the country’s needs. There’s nothing to stop Wales from having all of these; it’s just that in every category (except possibly the legal system) the Assembly Government has been moving in the opposite direction since it was founded, which is why we shouldn’t be surprised Wales is getting poorer not richer at the moment. It’s not inevitable.

                  • Eos Pengwern

                    I just re-read what I wrote and realised I put ‘companies’ where of course I meant ‘countries’. Bah! Too early in the morning. We really need an edit facility on this site.

                    • And maybe a fact-checking facility! Wales is not getting poorer. Disposable income and GVA are growing, but only slowly. I am concerned that misunderstandings of the actual structure of the Welsh economy lead people to quite startling conclusions.

                      Don’t for a second think I am suggesting things are going well in the Welsh economy. Devolution has effectively made no difference. It hasn’t made things worse, but it’s completely failed to give Wales a relative advantage, and that is a policy and imagination failure.

                      I completely disagree with you on WTO rules. They would create tariffs between the UK/Wales and the EU. The highest average final bound tariff is for Dairy Products. The majority of our dairy is sold inside the UK (an independent Wales will need a free trade deal with England by the way) but there is some export, and the UK market doesn’t deliver very good prices. The other tariffs I would be really worried about are the WTO final bound tariffs on cars. The EU Single Market has a very solid interaction in terms of tariffs and trade deals with the rest of the world and the main markets for our exports (yes, even without the dreaded TTIP which was a completely unecessary and stupid idea).

                      Calls to remove Wales from the Single Market, even if that ends up happening by default, should in no way be supported. However, I think the UK will be able to reach a deal with the EU which is slightly worse than the Single Market.

                      Calvin Jones’ analysis is well worth reading (it also touches procurement policy); https://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/brexit/2017/03/27/wales-and-the-single-market-a-threat-assessment/

    • Gareth Westacott

      Well said, Glasiad!

      • I have to say that reading this makes me very uncomfortable. I am vehemently and absolutely pro EU (you’d have never guessed …). I joined Plaid because I was asked by local party activists if I would be prepared to stand up to am independent (but known UKIP supporter) Brexiteer, the incumbent, in my ward. I’d always been a Plaid supporter, but preferred to keep myself free of direct ties. Everyone I talked to in Plaid encouraged me to stand, and wanted me to stand on a pro-EU ticket to get him out. I didn’t succeed – not because of the EU I am sure, rather because unseating the incumbent of nine years who seemingly was at school with half the ward was always going to be a tall order.

        However, if Plaid were to shift to an anti-EU stance, it could not be my home anymore.

        I’m not getting back into the Brexit debate here, but I am sure I am not the only Plaid member who would not hang around if Plaid shifted to a right wing anti-EU stance.

    • Brilliant comment.

  8. Don’t use the old “ever closer union” argument, a UKIP debating point, for in reality they’ve rowed back from it; expansion to new states took priority. It was not inevitable that the EuroCommission refused to make a statement against the violence by the Spanish state, for they intervened in eastern European (Poland, Hungary?) anti-democratic trends. Let the Euro-parliament determine such responses, to better reflect democratic/rights issues. Brexit – or just the prospect of it – is changing the EU. They appear to be ready to embrace and independent Scotland and defend the semi-unity of Ireland. Let’s place our vision for Wales in the changing governance.

  9. Great points from Glasiad about the divide between country nationalists and cosmopolitan nationalists here in Wales. Very insightful.

    One can see why the emergence of the EU seemed a godsend for nationalists here, since it provided another locus of power away from Westminster, and its largesse towards less developed areas such as Wales also appeared to further cement its reputation as a fount of European benevolence and goodwill.

    Unfortunately, this has blinded many nationalists in Wales to the essentially anti-democratic, technocratic and empire-building nature of the EU. Barnier, Juncker, and Verhofstad- what are these three in essence but power-crazed individuals who will put their empire and the continuation of the empire above everyone and everything?. The subjugation of Greece, the continuing Austerity in places such as Spain and Portugal, the ideological propagation of the Euro, and now the unforgiveable tolerance of the violence meted out by Spanish Police to voters in Catalunya .

    As Ifan pointed out, that tweet from Verhofstad gives the game away completely: these people want a single European state where national identities and democracies are eliminated completely.

    This might be hard for many to swallow: but the Brexiteers( as deluded and misguided as many of them are about this notion of a Global Britain again) were right to be suspicious about the EU and its eventual destination point. England has done us a favour.

    Brexit has put national sovereignty and democracy back centre stage in our politics. That can only be good for Wales because we can now fall back on our essential strengths as a nation( identity, belonging, culture, democracy) freed from the globalist and rootless direction of travel being followed by the EU.

    Personally, I think the events in Catalunya was a watershed moment for the EU. It has been found severely wanting and more and more people will now be questioning its essential premise: that it is a force for peace and democracy in Europe. The emergence of a new Europe of Nations to replace the European Union is long overdue.

  10. Whatever happens I think Wales would be better served as part of a bloc or union of some description. I don’t like the way the UK is constructed and I’m pretty ambivalent about the EU. Both bring undeniable advantages to us in terms of economics, trade and security, but neither serve us as agents for forging our national identity and both have many negative aspects in that regard. Also we are all undeniably European and British in the sense that we are part of those geographically defined entities and we can’t up sticks and move to the Pacific.

    Without the EU I really believe that vast swathes of Europe would now be deserts of employment – the Chinese and the US and many others would have had free reign to dump commodities and destroy businesses, from chemicals to agriculture. Most European countries would now be powerless to manage the long term production of foods and other essentials, with the end result being more conflicts. We would be at the whim of the super rich, the currency speculators and all of the other sharks out there.

    The problems of the EU are down to it’s member states, not the union itself – Spain could allow Catalonia to secede and actually broker its re-entry into the EU, but it clearly won’t, because Spain is very clearly still a strongly nationalistic entity – the EU has’t changed that. If Spain was supportive of the Catalonians, then I doubt that the EU would stand in it’s way, despite potential concerns from France on setting precedents etc. France is probably the least tolerant of it’s potential stateless nations – autonomy would be unthinkable for the Bretons or the Basques – even the languages are barely tolerated by the state.

    I’ll be controversial and suggest that what has happened in Spain shows that the EU is showing that it is not a superstate – it is showing that the individual nations are very powerful in terms of how they control their countries – it cannot control what Spain does and it’s not in it’s remit. The EU has shown that it will not override the rights of its member states to make their own decisions on these issues. Much as I would would like them to support Catalonia, they can’t because Catalonia is not yet independent or a member of the EU and they can’t be seen to be interfering in the events that are unfolding.

    A superstate could perhaps look at the situation in Spain/Catalunya very differently and simply make a decision either way and really it wouldn’t matter very much, since in a superstate it would be nothing more than rearranging the deckchairs.

    The difference with the Baltic States is that Russia for example was not a member of the EU and the EU wasn’t constrained by trying to respect Russia’s wishes – in fact most of the former colonial members took real joy in helping to unravel the USSR.

    What is clear though is that the EU is not a vehicle for stateless nations to gain independence – lovely as that might be. Brexit may very well help us, since the UK is soon to no longer going to be a member of the EU. If we secede from the UK, then the UK will soon not be able to veto us rejoining the EU should we so wish.

    A post independence scenario, might need a referendum on where I future should lie. I think Wales would have to be part of a union of other nations, but there could be more options than simply the UK or the EU?

    • “Both bring undeniable advantages to us in terms of economics, trade and security”…the UK….are you kidding….seen no evidence of real investment in my life mate 😀

  11. Chris Davies

    The EU response to Spain’s brutal crackdown has been a genuine shock to me. A sickening shock. I have always and will always believe Wales should be independence within the EU like Ireland or Denmark. I handed out leaflets in town for Wales in Europe during EUref. But this has shown the other side of the EU, a side I never thought I’d see. Of turning a blind eye to police brutality, of sitting on their hands while people’s right to vote is labelled “illegal”, their support for Big State nationalism.

    Spain, if you have to force “unity” with rubber bullets & truncheons, stamping on people’s heads, breaking their fingers and smashing their faces, you have lost. It’s finished. And there’s no going back.

    • There’s comment here and elsewhere explaining why the EU’s response shouldn’t be surprising. Spain not Catalunya is the EU member and the EU exists for its members and it’s the members that form the dog that wags the EU tail.
      Not the other way around as Leavers and it appears many Remainers thought.

    • Gareth Westacott

      As I recall, it was Gareth Miles (‘Wales’ leading Marxist’) who, in the early 70’s, was the main intellectual proponent of EU (or EEC as it was then) membership, as he argued that ‘Europe’ would look more sympathetically and favourably on Wales’ claims to nationhood than would the UK government. I don’t think that’s been borne out in fact.

  12. “5.Bilingual Wales with its own culture feels more at ease within a multilingual, multicultural union of the EU than within the UK where one language and culture dominates.

    You can still make a good case for the first four, but I think that the next few years are going to challenge our perceptions of the latter[5.].”

    Why?
    Is it because the EU will deliberately erode the languages and customs of EU member states. That is above and beyond what would be eroded anyway by global and intra European cultural influences.
    Is it because UK governments will ensure that the English language and culture will be less dominant in Cymru that it is or might be.

    Since 2004 Malta’s six MEPs have been allowed to use the Maltese language at the European Parliament. If they are able to speak Maltese so too have the other 744 MEPs.
    I don’t know how many MPs speak Cymraeg but it’s use in the House of Commons will get any MP persisting to address the house in Cymraeg suspended and so unable to represent their constituents.
    Based on past form and current practice I’d say number 5. looks like pretty sound logic.

  13. I found Ifan’s article a bit depressing, in that it failed to see beyond a simple binary choice between Cymru remaining within the UK or EU, both becoming increasingly centralised and intolerant of difference. A choice therefore of either being part of a super-state or a mega super-state. Can we not imagine an alternative future? For example, how about an independent Catalunya, finding itself in a hostile world (not recognised by either Spain or the EU) seeking brand new trade agreements with other friendlier nations? And could not such new alliances, based on non-exploitative relationships (and which could stretch far beyond Europe), herald in a fairer world? Idealistic? Possibly, but maybe a bit of visionary thinking is what we need at the moment.

  14. Just two words:
    Switzerland
    Belgium

  15. Capitalist and Welshnash

    Just two word:

    Darwiniaeth pobloedd

    • Y Swistir, 4 iaith. 4 pobl, pob un â ei diwylliant ei hun. Yn byw mewn heddwch ers dros 500 mlynedd.

      • Eos Pengwern

        A dim yn rhan o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd.

        • Cywir. Ond dim y pwynt. Pwynt oedd, mae’r 4 iaith a chymuned wedi cyd-fyw o dan yr un llywodraeth heb unrhyw amhariad ar un neu’r llall. Gwell ‘na hynny, maen nhw’n gwerthfawrogi bob un o’u diwylliannau ac yn hybu nhw.
          “The history of the nation-states shows that in the long-term they always do one thing, without fail, which is to break down the cultural and linguistic differences between peoples.”
          – dim yn wir (o gwbl) yn achos y Swistir.
          A dw i’n siarad fel rhywun sydd wedi byw yno, am flwyddyn, blynyddoedd yn ôl.

          • kim erswell

            The Swiss have the right to have arms – that helps too.

          • Y gwahaniaeth yn achos y Swistir yw bod yr ieithoedd sy’n cyd-fyw a bodolaeth y tu hwnt i ffiniau’r wlad. Petaent yn ieithoedd brodorol, ac un yn llawer cryfach na’r llall, fe fyddai y sefyllfa’n bur wahanol. Werth nodi bod nifer siaradwyr Romansh fel canran o’r boblogaeth wedi plymio yn yr un modd a’r Gymraeg.

            Yn achos yr EU mae yna un iaith yn gryfach na’r lleill, oherwydd awch pobl yr UE am deledu Americanaidd gymaint ag unrehyw beth arall, sef Saesneg.

            – Ifan

            • Hesch niit schwiizerduutch g’hoert? Na, dyw hyd yn oed Google Translate ddim yn gallu cyfieithu hynny, ond i ryw 68% o boblogaeth y Swistir, mae hynny yn iaith. Cyfrinach iddyn nhw, ond am ychydig fel fi sydd wedi byw yn eu plith a’i dysgu.

  16. The principles of the EU and the European single market are conducive to a Europe of small independent nations in the main. Things like open borders, free trade and, yes, free movement of workers are now possible within the single market framework whilst retaining ultimate sovereignty, where previously these only really existed within the boundaries of a larger state.

    The problem as I see it comes when a minority of people at the top of the EU hierarchy (Guy Verhofstadt and Jean-Claude Juncker included) want to see the EU more or less become that larger state. Rather than embracing a pragmatic union of nation states they would like to see a cultural union with increased centralisation of powers. Suddenly nationalism, and indeed the very existence of nations at all, becomes a threat.

  17. “There is not one member of the EU without a national movement somewhere within its shores and the last thing they want to do is be giving Scotland, the Basque Country, Flanders, Corsica, Brittany, Wales, and others, ideas.”

    Really? Not one? Does Portugal have a national movement within it? Austria? It has a minority language I think, but that’s not the same thing. Germany? Very strong regions and a strong identity in Bavaria, but is there a part where a significant minority want to break away? Ireland? (not including those who want to unite northern and Republic?).

    Obviously, I agree with the main point that the EU is its member states. Pretty hypocritical of Brexiteers here to be criticising it for NOT intervening in domestic affairs when they’re usually criticising it for doing so.

  18. The old adage that all empires eventually fall has seemed very prescient this week with the events in Catalunya.

    Morally, the EU stands ruthlessly exposed this week. Does anyone really believe that Spain acted like this without clearing it with the upper echelons of the EU??

    Catalunya’s push for Independence was a threat to the EU empire- so it had to be undermined and attacked by any means possible.

    Let’s remember that these actions of deliberate sabotage were going on for two weeks and more before the actual violence used on Sunday itself.

    Unfortunately for the EU- we are now in 2017 and we are living in a much more transparent and open world. All their semantics about an “illegal vote” cannot disguise the fact that they have been caught in plain view supping with the devil-( ie the side using violence, intimidation and voter suppression). Everyone can see that. That image will not disappear. The empire is crumbling.

    As for Wales: the crumbling of the EU empire and Brexit opens the door for our own Independence. It really is the most propitious moment for the Welsh national cause I can remember in my lifetime. 50+

    I agree with some of the other posters: we need to think of a new bloc of nations to ally with.

    We could certainly do worse than consider setting up a new Celtic block of nations which could include Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and even Cornwall and Brittany over time.

    • A Celtic bloc might be too small to be effective – one idea could be an Atlantic region, including West Africa and leading down to South Africa. With a growing African economy this could be a formidable trading bloc, but there could be huge political and social issues, which could raise quite justifiable fears in many perhaps. Economically I think it might have great potential and it wouldn’t have to be constructed along the same lines as the EU?

      • This is why I am putting forward an Atlantic region or Free Trade Area as an idea.

        Look at Nigeria – a country with big issues, but huge potential – the most populous country in Africa, with huge problems of political instability and corruption, but still the country that is likely to be the engine of economic growth in the continent. It’s emerging from a recession and like most of Africa is hampered by access to finance for investment. Basically the whole of the former colonial areas of west Africa have been exploited for centuries – they have been asset stripped and left with post colonial identity issues, just like us in Wales and the only thing holding many of these countries back is political instability and access to investment – there are assets aplenty and a bottomless pit of clever people – the potential is huge.

        I think we have to take some risks to gain any economic rewards and despite all the issues, we should really be putting certain countries and regions, particularly Nigeria and West Africa very high in our sights for cultural collaborations, education and and trade links. It is an economic super-region in the making (well it’s well on it’s way). Imagine the European Celtic regions and nations working collaboratively with the future political, social and economic development of West Africa – in an equal and non-colonialist way, for mutual benefit. Countries like Portugal would also be nice to have on-board, despite their colonial baggage – this is not the wealthiest of EU nations, a country that has lost it’s way and needs a spur, like everyone else.

        We have to open our eyes, beyond the EU, USA, the middle East and the BRICs nations.

        There are some who believe that the original inhabitants on the fringes of Western Europe were Atlanticans – whether that’s true or not – it could help in forging a historical narrative as well.

  19. Tame Frontiersman

    The EU’s grew out of what to do about Germany after two devastating world wars. An opportunity existed in the 1990s to reincorporate Russia into the European mainstream. A similar opportunity in regards Turkey seems to be slipping away and with it a possible pathway of achieving some accommodation between the West and Islam.

    Once upon a time, the UK’s membership of the EU allowed the possibility as more powers were gained by the Welsh Assembly and the EU downgrading the relevance of Westminster that a point would be reached where the idea of Wales leaving the UK to join the top table could have been sold. A renamed British and Irish Council with Wales at its geographic centre would replace Westminster as a forum for Wales’ regional co-operation with England. EU membership for Wales may have been a way of cushioning problems relating to Wales having to deal with an inherited share of the UKs national debt, though support may have come at a price, as the people of Greece have found out.

    The EU is not “lovable”, it is sometimes useful. For example, if “angry of Llan-le-bynnag” is not happy about being forced to segregate household waste, well who’s to blame? Certainly not your local politician who has to face elections, blame European bureaucrats (though in fact the recycling targets set by the Welsh Government are more ambitious than those set by the EU). But the very lack of democratic accountability which makes the EU useful as a tool for pushing through potentially unpopular projects is also what’s so wrong with the EU as a quasi-state.

  20. “Does anyone really believe that Spain acted like this without clearing it with the upper echelons of the EU??”

    Yes, of course. It’s one thing to accuse the EU of not intervening once something has happened, quite another to say that the EU knew how violent the police were going to be.

    • Come off it, anyone with half a brain knows that the police will use huge amounts of violence if the state is under threat – it’s why they exist in the first place, especially outfits like the Guardia Civil.

      • kim erswell

        I guess that’s how , Antifa, feels its justified in its own violence. Guardia Civile is Antifa writ large…Vermin is their collective name.

  21. Red Dragon Jim

    ““Does anyone really believe that Spain acted like this without clearing it with the upper echelons of the EU??””

    Yes. The EU’s stance is that it is an internal matter for Spain, and its attitude is to suppport Spain. The EU is not the ultra-involved Brussels super-state of Brexiteer imagination. It is an aloof, cold and sometimes disappointing entity.

    My support for the existence of a European Union is not conditional on who runs the Commission. It’s the same argument that anti-devolutionists use; “devolution isn’t doing well, so get rid of it”, rather than reform or change it.

    The fact that the Catalans have been betrayed by the EU Commission does not mean they are no longer European citizens. Insofar as independence is concerned, the policy of the Catalan Government is to become a member-state of the European Union, using the Euro, even if that means applying from outside (Catalonia complies completely with the conditions to become an EU member-state; it could only be blocked for political reasons). However, the principal problem for the Catalan Government is the policy of Spain.

    When Catalonia declares independence they will not be recognised by Spain, the EU, the UK or by countries who are not members of the EU. The EU and the Spanish state will continue to believe that Catalonia is a part of Spain. It will still be in the EU at that point.

    So Catalonia’s desire to become an EU member-state, means Wales or the UK should NOT be one? That isn’t logical. The reason we need to either be in the EU, or in its Single Market, is to have unity with fellow European citizens and to make use of the benefits.

    We should attack the moral redundancy of the EU Commission, but don’t conflate it with the economic and social benefits to the Welsh nation of the EU.

  22. If it has been mentioned then I missed it, and for that I apologise, but . . .

    Plaid Cymru leapt upon the European Union because it offered a defence from the damaging allegation that Plaid wanted to ‘cut Wales off’, the implication being that an independent Wales would somehow float off into the Atlantic.

    Being in ‘Europe’ gave Plaid Cymru the chance to promote ‘Independence in Europe’ which it hoped would be interpreted as not being independence at all, really, and would definitely not result in Wales floating off into the sunset.

    For all sorts of reasons Plaid Cymru’s support for ‘Europe’ was always confused, insincere, and for many in the party’s leadership an excuse to avoid discussing independence.

  23. “Come off it, anyone with half a brain knows that the police will use huge amounts of violence if the state is under threat – it’s why they exist in the first place, especially outfits like the Guardia Civil.”

    You must be the only one who wasn’t shocked and saddened at what happened in Catalonia recently then. I knew the police were being sent in to stop the vote, but I didn’t expect the viciousness against ordinary civilians, not because I think those people are angels, but because I didn’t think the Spanish state would want such bad publicity. I thought they’d see it was counterproductive.

  24. The EU is more than just one thing. You don’t suddenly stop supporting because they’ve done on thing you disagree with. We haven’t all stopped being devolutionists because the Welsh government’s refusal to condemn Spain, have we?
    If you still support the EU, please come to the rally in Cardiff on 14 October. From 12.30 at the Nye Bevan statue.
    If you’re in north Wales, please try to make it to the Wales rally, but if that’s not possible there will be rallies in the north west of England too.

    • I was hoping to come to a rally. There was the suggestion that there will be one in all remain areas, but I couldn’t find info about one in Ceredigion. Are there others around? If not, see you in Cardiff, hopefully.

  25. From project-syndicate.org
    Spain’s Crisis is Europe’s Opportunity
    Oct 6, 2017 YANIS VAROUFAKIS
    The Catalonia crisis is a strong hint from history that Europe needs to develop a new type of sovereignty, one that strengthens cities and regions, dissolves national particularism, and upholds democratic norms. Imagining a pan-European democracy is the prerequisite for imagining a Europe worth saving.
    ATHENS – To revive the ailing European project, the ugly conflict between Catalonia’s regional government and the Spanish state may be just what the doctor ordered. A constitutional crisis in a major European Union member state creates a golden opportunity to reconfigure the democratic governance of regional, national, and European institutions, thereby delivering a defensible, and thus sustainable, EU.

    The EU’s official reaction to the police violence witnessed during Catalonia’s independence referendum amounts to dereliction of duty. To declare, as the President of the European Commission did, that this is an internal Spanish problem in which the EU has no say is hypocrisy on stilts.
    Of course, hypocrisy has long been at the center of the EU’s behavior. Its officials had no compunction about meddling in a member state’s internal affairs – say, to demand the removal of elected politicians for refusing to implement cuts in the pensions of their poorest citizens or to sell off public assets at ridiculous prices (something I have personally experienced). But when the Hungarian and Polish governments explicitly renounce fundamental EU principles, non-interference suddenly became sacrosanct.

    The Catalan question has deep historical roots, as does nationalism more broadly. But would it have erupted the way it recently did had Europe not mishandled the eurozone crisis since 2010, imposing quasi-permanent stagnation on Spain and the rest of the European periphery while setting the stage for xenophobia and moral panic when refugees began crossing Europe’s external borders? An example illustrates the connection.
    Barcelona, Catalonia’s exquisite capital, is a rich city running a budget surplus. Yet many of its citizens recently faced eviction by Spanish banks that had been bailed out by their taxes. The result was the formation of a civic movement that in June 2015 succeeded in electing Ada Colau as Barcelona’s mayor.

    Among Colau’s commitments to the people of Barcelona was a local tax cut for small businesses and households, assistance to the poor, and the construction of housing for 15,000 refugees – a large share of the total number that Spain was meant to absorb from frontline states like Greece and Italy. All of this could be achieved while keeping the city’s books in the black, simply by reducing the municipal budget surplus.

    Alas, Colau soon realized that she faced insurmountable obstacles. Spain’s central government, citing the state’s obligations to the EU’s austerity directives, had enacted legislation effectively banning any municipality from reducing its surplus. At the same time, the central government barred entry to the 15,000 refugees for whom Colau had built excellent housing facilities.

    To this day, the budget surplus prevails, the services and local tax cuts promised have not been delivered, and the social housing for refugees remains empty. The path from this sorry state of affairs to the reinvigoration of Catalan separatism could not be clearer.

    In any systemic crisis, the combination of austerity for the many, socialism for bankers, and strangulation of local democracy creates the hopelessness and discontent that are nationalism’s oxygen. Progressive, anti-nationalist Catalans, like Colau, find themselves squeezed from both sides: the state’s authoritarian establishment, which uses the EU’s directives as a cover for its behavior, and a renaissance of radical parochialism, isolationism, and atavistic nativism. Both reflect the failure to fulfill the promise of shared, pan-European prosperity.

    Catalonia provides an excellent case study of Europe’s broader conundrum. Choosing between an authoritarian Spanish state and a “make Catalonia great again” nationalism is equivalent to choosing between Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the President of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, and Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front: austerity or disintegration.

    The duty of progressive Europeans is to reject both: the deep establishment at the EU level and the competing nationalisms ravaging solidarity and common sense in member states like Spain.

    The alternative is to Europeanize the solution to a problem caused largely by Europe’s systemic crisis. Instead of impeding local and regional democratic governance, the EU should be fostering it. The EU treaties could be amended to enshrine the right of regional governments and city councils, like Catalonia’s and Barcelona’s, to fiscal autonomy and even to their own fiscal money. They could also be allowed to implement their own policies on refugees and migration.

    If there was still demand for statehood and separation from the internationally recognized state to which they belong, the EU could invoke a code of conduct for secession. For example, the EU could stipulate that it will sanction an independence referendum if the regional government requesting it has already won an election on such a platform with an absolute majority of the voters. Moreover, the referendum should be held at least one year after the election, to allow for a proper, sober debate.

    As for the new state, it should be obligated to maintain at least the same level of fiscal transfers as before. Rich Veneto could secede from Italy, for example, as long as it maintained its fiscal transfers to the South. Moreover, the new state should be prohibited from erecting new borders and be compelled to guarantee its residents the right to triple citizenship (new state, old state, and European).

    The Catalonia crisis is a strong hint from history that Europe needs to develop a new type of sovereignty, one that strengthens cities and regions, dissolves national particularism, and upholds democratic norms. The immediate beneficiaries would be Catalans, the people of Northern Ireland, and maybe the Scots (who would in this manner snatch an opportunity out of the jaws of Brexit). But the longer-term beneficiary of this new type of sovereignty would be Europe as a whole. Imagining a pan-European democracy is the prerequisite for imagining a Europe worth saving.
    Yanis Varoufakis”

    • Red Dragon Jim

      Varoufakis is the second person I will call wrong in this thread, after Corbyn!

      Heart in the right place, good principles, wrong/ignorant analysis of the Catalan question.

  26. I would say that reasons 3-5 for Welsh nationalists to like the EU are all very dubious actually.

    Peace in Europe might be a stated aim of the EU, but Nobel Prize notwithstanding there’s a case to be made that the EU’s impact on Peace is marginal or non-existent. Contrary to the impression created by the news, the world as a whole has been on a general trend towards becoming more peaceful: you can’t credit the EU with the fact that South American states haven’t gone to war with each other in decades, ditto East Asia – see Steven Pinker’s book the Better Angels of our Nature for a detailed discussion of this – whilst the EU certainly didn’t make Europe less peaceful, there’s a compelling case to suggest that we would have had peace in Europe whether we had an EU or not.

    Re: point 4, I think it’s becoming increasingly clear from this Catalonian referendum, and the discussions surrounding the Scottish one, that the EU is not going to look favourably on states which secede from its member states. That Independence within the EU is an option presupposes that the EU would allow it; a vindictive, vengeful EU will not want to make independence attractive for other non-state cultures and might wilfully obstruct any new state.

  27. Angharad – sorry about the delay in replying. There is a rally on Saturday in every European Parliament constituency so only one in Wales, which is the Cardiff one.

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