Colm McCarthy: Upsurge in regional xenophobia leaves Europe facing state of flux
Spain and Brussels have little choice but to resist the push for Catalan independence, writes Colm McCarthy
When empires, the prisons of nations, collapse, their suppressed constituents invariably set up shop as new independent states. So it was with the collapse of the Soviet Union almost 30 years ago and with the demise of the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires at the end of World War I.
There are now 193 sovereign states in membership of the United Nations, three times the number as recently as the mid-1950s, reflecting the (largely peaceful) dissolution of the French and British empires and some far more violent episodes in recent times.
The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s cost 150,000 lives and displaced four million, making it easy to understand the European Union's preference for leaving national frontiers where they sit and its resistance to the campaign for Catalan independence.