Understanding the EU Response to Aspirations for Regional Autonomy in Catalonia.
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The latest bid by Catalans for their full independence from the Spanish nation saw police in riot gear accost voters and shut down voting centres. While some who represent regional interests in Europe expressed dismay at this turn of events and called upon the European Union to condemn this heavy handed treatment, or at least to agree to mediate on the matter, the campaign has failed to garner significant international support. This thesis will seek to illustrate how events in Catalonia have exposed the changing nature of the European project, the end result of decades of debate on how best to integrate and operate the European Union (EU). I argue that EU integration is now informed by New Intergovernmentalism (NI); meaning a more centralised, state orientated union characterised by enhanced efficiency and effectiveness with a focus on consensus seeking and problem solving. This prioritization of member states as the units of political legitimacy within the union leaves Europe’s regional authorities even lower on the rung of EU policy making, making it no surprise that in spite of the heavy handed approach to curtailing regional autonomy in Spain, and in spite of large scale public support, the EU will not rise to the defence of the interests of its Catalan citizens.