After unprecedented police violence against its citizens Sunday, Spain is headed for another showdown with the renegade province of Catalonia, which wants to become an independent state.
With its capital of Barcelona, Catalonia has it's own history, culture, and language. Catalonia also pays more in taxes to the Spanish government in Madrid than it gets back, and many Catalans want to be free of Spain.
There are reports the Catalan parliament will consider a declaration of independence from Spain on Monday.
Europeans were shocked at the extraordinary level of violence directed against Catalans trying to vote Sunday in a referendum on independence that the Spanish government declared illegal-and it made many wonder just how free and democratic the European Union really is.
Vaclav Klaus, a former leader of the Czech republic who grew up under communism, once told EU lawmakers that the European Union reminded him of the old Soviet Union, and he was booed.
But the violence seen Sunday could easily remind at least some Europeans about what life was like in the totalitarian governments behind the Iron Curtain. Almost 900 were injured by police.
"I've called the European Union undemocratic, I called it anti-democratic, but never, ever in my fiercest criticisms here did I think we would see the police of a member state of the Union injuring nine hundred people in an attempt to stop them going out to vote," said British Member of the European Parliament, NIgel Farage, "Whether or not it was legal nationally for people in Catalonia to have a vote, surely, surely, people are allowed to express that opinion. We saw women being dragged out of polling stations by their hair, old ladies with gashes in their forehead. I think it is quite extraordinary to realize that this union is prepared to turn a blind eye."
Catalans viewed the vote as a democratic expression of free speech and self-determination, but the European Commission has sided firmly with the government in Madrid, and said the Spanish government's use of force was necessary to uphold the rule of law.
The independence movement in Catalonia is a big problem for the EU, because there are many regions of Europe, most notably Flanders in the northern half of Belgium, where other separatist movements also want to break away and declare their own nations.