The European Union and the accommodation of Basque difference in Spain

The European Union and the accommodation of Basque difference in Spain

Angela K. Bourne
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The European Union and the accommodation of Basque difference in Spain
    Book Description:

    How does the European Union affect devolution and nationalist conflict in member states? Does the EU reduce the scope of regional self-government or enhance it? Does it promote conflict or cooperation among territorial entities? These are pressing questions in Spanish politics, where devolution has been an important tool for managing nationalist disputes, and for the Basque Country, where protracted and sometimes violent nationalist conflicts persist. Addressing these issues, this book explores prospects for an autonomous Basque role in EU politics; institutional arrangements for autonomous community participation in EU decision making; Basque government alliances with other regions and the EU's supranational bodies; EU incentives for collaboration among Basque and central state authorities; the impact of EU decisions on politically sensitive Basque competencies; and the incidence of EU issues in nationalist disputes. It presents a new theoretical framework for analysing the impact of the EU on regional power and will be of interest to students, researchers and general observers of Basque, Spanish and EU politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-208-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    By accident and by design, the European Union (EU) has touched nationalist politics in many parts of Europe. After nationalist excesses of World War Two, the founding organisation of today’s EU, the European Coal and Steel Community, sought to make war between France and Germany ‘not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible’. The market integration policies of the European Economic Community helped break down economic and physical barriers between states, including those dividing national communities which straddled state borders. Enlargement policy sought to dampen nationalist tensions by promoting the rights of national and other minority groups in applicant states. It was...

  8. 1 The impact of European integration on regional power
    (pp. 10-26)

    This chapter explores the key theoretical puzzles of the book: firstly, why is it that existing studies present such contradictory conclusions about the impact of European integration on regional power? Some see European integration as a source of empowerment for regions, while others argue that it may undermine regional power. Others still do not think the EU affects regional power at all. The second theoretical puzzle concerns the problems this theoretical ambiguity presents for empirical research and how they might be overcome.

    I begin with a brief exploration of the concept ‘regional power’. I then examine arguments about the impact...

  9. 2 Devolution and the accommodation of Basque difference in Spain
    (pp. 27-45)

    The profile of ‘Basque difference’, invoked in the book’s title, is captured by the strength and institutional dominance of Basque nationalism in many spheres of Basque political and social life. Basque nationalism has a long history rooted in medieval and later experiences of political autonomy, the social dislocation of industrialisation and resistance to the homogenising effects of Spanish state- and nation-building drives (Caro Baroja 1985; Letamendia 1994; de la Granja 1995 and 2003; de la Cierva 1997; Conversi 1997). It had institutional form from the late nineteenth century, when the party still dominating the nationalist movement, the Basque Nationalist Party...

  10. 3 Basque participation in the state’s EU decisions
    (pp. 46-71)

    The decentralisation process inaugurated during the transition to democracy was soon followed by construction of new institutions to promote cooperation between autonomous community and central state authorities. When Spain joined the EU, these institutions were harnessed for collaboration in EU matters. The state’s bicameral parliament housed a ‘territorial chamber’ – the Senate (el Senado) – and subsequent reforms sought to give autonomous communities a say in state EU decisions through their parliamentary representatives. A more comprehensive system of intergovernmental relations was built with Sectoral Conferences (conferencias sectoriales), which are interministerial bodies where central and autonomous community governments can coordinate policy portfolios. Informal...

  11. 4 The Basque presence in Brussels
    (pp. 72-94)

    From the mid-1980s, regions across Europe mobilised to call for EU treaty reforms that would, as Charlie Jeffery (2004) put it, ‘let regions in’ to EU decision fora. Various contributions to Constitutional Treaty debates show that many EU regions still want a bigger role in EU decisionmaking (Jeffery 2004; Keating 2004; Bourne 2006).¹ In this chapter, I examine EU and state-level responses to these demands, particularly creation of the CoR and a widening of regional participation in state delegations to EU bodies. Analysis of domestic debates and arrangements permitting Basque and other autonomous communities’ involvement in EU bodies provides further...

  12. 5 More allies, more influence? The Atlantic Arc and transEuropean networks
    (pp. 95-116)

    In this chapter I examine a Basque government campaign to promote an ambitious high-speed train (HST) project linking Basque towns into Spanish and European transport networks. The Basque HST project, known locally as the ‘Basque Y’, aims to link Bilbao, San Sebastián and Vitoria in the Basque Country south to Madrid and north, across the Pyrenees, to France and the rest of Europe. The project has been a major Basque government priority since the 1980s, and is considered key for future economic prosperity, although it has raised concerns about environmental and social costs. The transregional and transnational nature of HST...

  13. 6 Basque taxation devolution and the EU’s competition imperative
    (pp. 117-134)

    This chapter examines a key episode in a long-running dispute between Basque, central government and certain EU bodies about the scope of politically sensitive Basque taxation powers. The devolution of extensive taxation prerogatives was a central element of the selfgovernment formula negotiated by Basque and central state elite after the dictatorship. The daily application of these powers, however, became controversial. Basque and central authorities confronted each other in the courts and the issue often provoked biting recriminations, especially from Basque nationalists, for whom these taxation prerogatives represent a modernisation of historic practices of selfgovernment. Once Spain joined, various EU bodies...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 135-147)

    Construction of the Spanish state of autonomies was a political juncture of historic importance for the Basque Country. Devolution provided tools to address many longstanding grievances and fears: It ended the historic exclusion of Basque nationalism from government; Basque government policies helped address the decline of the Basque language; Basque police services operate alongside state security services; Basque provincial institutions, traditions and powers have been given new life; and the Basque elite have an institutional foothold from which they can conduct relations with state authorities. Devolution, in some form or other, has been embraced by the majority of Basque citizens....

  15. References
    (pp. 148-162)
  16. Index
    (pp. 163-176)