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Post Spanish Attitudes Towards the EU
Created by John Eipper on 02/11/19 2:12 PM

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Spanish Attitudes Towards the EU (Henry Levin, USA, 02/11/19 2:12 pm)

In response to Phyllis Gardner, I issue a caveat: This is not erudite.

At the expense of creating controversy, here are some observations of 47 years of a Spanish wife and American husband who spend part of each year in Spain at our Spanish home. These observations are casual and not scientific in any sense, so I am aware that they may be viewed as superficial without a deeper understanding. Consider them as observations and anecdotes, but based upon many experiences in the Basque Country, Extremadura, Galicia, Levante, Andalucia, Madrid, Catalunya, Mallorca, and Tenerife. None of them suggest the appeal of a Brexit to the Spanish.

1. Catalan nationalism raises serious challenges for the EU because if it were to happen, it would encourage latent and active separatist groups of regions and peoples across Europe to do the same. This would be a catastrophe for the EU.

2. After entering the EU, many Spanish appreciated the EU membership because they felt that they benefited by the recognition of the "original European Club" in becoming an integral part of the European core rather than a "Southern European" country. We have heard this expressed very often. But, soon this pride was countered by complaints of rising prices created by the Euro and the loss of autonomy in monetary policy. In street conversations, all price inflation was due to the Euro.

3. Another attraction was the European passport as tangible evidence of European membership and its attendant rights to education and work in other countries and to cross borders freely. This is often expressed with pride to Americans, who have no such privilege.

4. It is not clear that the Spanish feel that cultural equality is manifested across the EU or even in Spain. As an outsider I hear disparaging remarks about other European countries, but even the rhetoric about Spanish regions still display the historical prejudices that were common before the entrance to the EU. That is, we still hear of regional stereotypes such as Basque workaholics (or terrorists), jokes at the expense of Gallegos, references to lazy Andalucians and to smug and pretentious Madrileños. Apparently, culture takes a long time to change.

A unified Europe seems to be more evident in the laws and formal agreements than in the emotions and sentiments from history. Finally, we still hear a lot of negative remarks about Sudacas (Latin Americans), Panchitos (Latin Americans with indigenous characteristics), and Moros (North Africans).

JE comments: Culture takes a very long time to change.  Hank Levin's observations line up exactly with what I've witnessed from Spain and Spaniards during 30+ years.  Possibly the biggest point of pride for Spaniards is being admitted to the European "Club" on an equal footing long before the other "peripheral" members--and having the passport to prove it.

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