End of an affair?

Catalan Europhilia seems to be decreasing as contact with European institutions increases.

The president of the European Parliament came to Barcelona last week as part of a programme designed to boost the vote in the European elections in June, and the local politicians chose to use the opportunity, not to talk to him about the serious economic and other problems the region faces, but to demand that Catalan be added to the 30-odd official languages already contributing to productivity growth on this continent.

Hans-Gert Pöttering was introduced by Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, who clearly had no idea who he was and introduced him as Hans-Gers. Mr Pöttering got his revenge, pointing out that increased status for Catalan in Europe would have to be a Spanish initiative, suggesting that official status for Catalan in the Spanish parliament might be a useful first step, and noting that he too was worried about the future of his own Low Saxon but that one had to be realistic.

Catalan nationalists have tended to assume that what they have been unable to achieve in Madrid will be readily conceded by a Brussels keen to reduce powerful nation-states to more tractable regions, so this dose of realism will have hurt. And the enthusiasm of Catalan folklorists for Europe may be about to take another knock if an obscure European directive from two years ago banning children from using heavy explosives (via) is ever implemented.

So if neither Madrid nor Brussels will play ball, whither Cataloonia? Perhaps a Albanian-style, bugger-them-all unilateral declaration of independence, with Carod as Enver Hoxha and bunkers on the beaches. With perhaps some kind of bizarre alliance with a Free Flanders, whose extreme right politicians are part of a parliamentary delegation on an official visit this weekend.

Given the rise in football-related racist assaults in the region, I remain curious as to why the supporters of Reus Deportiu, collectivised as Front Reusenc, have a British neo-Nazi logo. Their organiser on Facebook tells me he doesn’t know.

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