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Inevitable Europe

Catalogne, Brexit, FN

Three events have just clearly illustrated the inevitable European dimension of continental political life.

The Catalan crisis has marked a turning point. The Catalans, who hold Spain dearly, have now openly shown that they are against a reckless departure from the European Union. Three of their most important companies have already transferred their HQ to Spain so that they can retain the benefit of belonging to the euro and its financial reputation. Others will follow.

Theresa May is now advocating a "soft exit" from the EU and especially from the Single Market, its rules and practices. She is demanding a transitory period, which after a tantrum vote, appears to be an admission to the shock that her decisions have already caused the British economy and which might, if the situation continues, prove even more serious.

Meanwhile in France, in another vein of lesser importance, the Front National rejected the euro but noted that the French did not want to leave the single currency, earning the party a severe electoral defeat. In this regard the Front is about to modify its unrealistic programme.

Whether we like it or not the European dimension is truly a part of life in our nations. The people of Europe cherish it and regularly remind the populists on all sides that Union membership goes without saying.

This does not excuse the Union of its inadequacies, of the need to make constant improvements, but it does certainly demand a little more commitment on the part of our politicians.

It seems vital to have true democratic debate in Catalonia, and even across Spain as a whole, regarding the impact of independence desired by an extremist minority. In the UK, the truth about the advantages and inconveniences of belonging to the Union, a little courage on the part of the country's governments, who for decades have literally hidden what Europe has given them on a daily basis, would certainly have prevented a decision that damages their own interests. Moderation in the criticism - and some of it was justified - would have prevented the bloom of populist, demagogic movements, which faded electoral thrashings. And this shows that Europeans are indeed informed voters! But, reassured by their wisdom, this is not a reason for us to forget about Europe and to fall asleep. For it to remain this precious good, which unites them against so many bouts of agitation, we have to commit to working towards its perfection, now and forever.