National self-determination and the limits of Europe
AbstractAfter the triumph, at the turn of the millennium, of the rhetoric of European unification as the overcoming of states and, even more, as a process that rendered obsolete those claims by so-called “stateless nations” to create new ones, the last ten years of our century have unexpectedly faced Europe with the phenomenon of national self-determination.1 If the independence of Montenegro in 2006 and that of Kosovo in 2008 were still viewed as falling “outside” the European area, its institutions and procedures, things changed suddenly in four years. From 2014 to 2018 we witnessed the independence referenda of Scotland (18 September 2014), Catalonia (1 October 2017) and, even, New Caledonia (November 4, November 2018). To these should also be added the referendum of Great Britain on its permanence in the European Union (23 June 2016). Four different events, perhaps even unrelated, which viewed together, however, form a corpus of great value for those wishing to reflect outside the usual frame- works on the semiopolitical forms of Europe or on Europe as a complex semio- cultural system, structured by multiple articulations on the levels of space, time, actors, and still engaged in the complex quest for shared, if not unifying, figures, themes and values. It is not our intention with this chapter to enter into the general debate on the law of peoples, much less on the long-standing conflict between the principle of self- determination and that of the territorial integrity of the state and therefore on the right to secession. Instead, it seems useful to us to apply the theme of national self-determination as a privileged way of understanding what we generically call “Europe”, or even more precisely, to allow us to make out the limits of Europe.
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