Realists watching the events in Europe over the last few years accepts that there is at least a small risk of the whole thing falling apart. (Some will say “I told you so,” but it remains a most distressing turn of events.)
Yet instead of the usual talk of entire countries withdrawing from the euro, we are increasingly faced with the prospect of individual countries splintering along regional lines. Consider the following:
- Leaders sign agreement on Scottish independent vote
- Belgian separatists advancing toward independence
- Spanish crisis revives call for catalan secession
- The return of the glorious Venetian republic?
One notable region is missing from this list: Bavaria. We have yet to hear widespread separatist cries from Germany’s richest region, despite its role in Germany’s internal transfer union and its growing dissatisfaction with the country’s role in the eurozone crisis. From the New York Times:
Bavaria is the victim of what Mr. Scharnagl [the author of “Bavaria Can Also Go It Alone”] calls “a double transfer union.” Long before they began bailing out Greeks, Portuguese and Irish, the Bavarians were bailing out the weaker states of their own country. As Germany is to Europe, Bavaria is to Germany: richer, more competitive and reluctant to keep footing the bill for the laggards.
Of Germany’s 16 states, only 4 make the adjustment payments intended to equalize living conditions in the country. Bavaria last year transferred nearly $3.66 billion, about equal to the total of the other three net contributors, Hessen, Baden-Württemberg and Hamburg. Often Bavaria charges its residents for services — parents for kindergarten, students for university — that some states receiving its largess offer free.
Given the decades-long partition of Germany and its relatively recent reunification, it would be quite surprising if a Bavarian separatist movement really took off. However, do keep an eye on the steady drumbeat of separatist sentiment coming from other European quarters.