The unstoppable force of Catalan separatism is about to meet the unmovable object that is Mariano Rajoy.
The Spanish prime minister and conservative party leader has vowed to prevent an independence referendum in the northeastern region at all costs. The Catalans are determined to vote anyway.
Neither side will be able to claim victory on Monday.
Rajoy may succeed in blocking the vote, but his intransigence has already convinced moderate Catalans there isn’t a future for them in Spain. The separatists may manage to organize a referendum, but it will be so marred by illegality and irregularity that the outcome cannot possibly be considered a mandate to break away. Read more
British Struggle to Understand Spain’s Reaction to Catalan Referendum
Carnegie Europe’s Erik Brattberg sees challenges ahead for the transatlantic relationship:
Afghanistan: Donald Trump’s administration is preparing for a troop surge in the country (despite the president’s own doubts). European support is lukewarm at best. Germany, where the pacifist Green party is probably going to be part of the next coalition government, could prove especially problematic.
Iran: Trump is determined to blow up the 2015 nuclear deal. Europe — together with China and Russia — wants to keep it in place.
North Korea: Europe plays little role in this crisis, but public opinion blames Trump for escalating it. Leaders will be hard-pressed to back him up, even if North Korea is in the wrong. Read more
European Fears of “Jamaica” Coalition Are Overblown
A three-party “Jamaica” coalition in Germany may not be so bad for Europe as observers fear, writes Guntram Wolff of the Bruegel think tank in the Financial Times.
He recognizes that the liberal Free Democrats are more Euroskeptic than Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Greens. They have opposed Greek debt relief, are wary of a common eurozone budget and argue for strict enforcement the bloc’s fiscal rules.
But that also applies to Wolfgang Schäuble, the outgoing finance minister. His likely Free Democratic successor could hardly be more hawkish.
A Jamaica coalition (named for the colors of the three parties, which match the Caribbean nation’s flag) would be open to some of the other EU reform proposals French president Emmanuel Macron made this week, from enhancing defense cooperation to creating a single European asylum policy. Read more