A man holds an Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) and a pro-referendum flag as he arrives at a closing rally in favour of the banned October 1 independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain September 29, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman

Former French premier Manuel Valls – son of a celebrated Catalan painter – has warned that if an independence referendum this weekend leads to Catalan secession from Spain it would be “the end of Europe” as a meaningful mission.

A report in the Telegraph on Thursday details the potential series of events that could see Valls’ fears realized.

The danger lies in Spain’s threatened retaliation against secession, which includes blocking Catalonia from reentry into the European Union. This would in turn give the region — Spain’s richest and most dynamic – no incentive to uphold their share of Spanish debt liabilities.

Brexit is the least of the European Union’s problems, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes:

We will find out on Sunday whether or not the Catalan people turn out to queue defiantly at locked polling stations, manned by the Guardia Civil. A declaration of unilateral independence is not yet “on the table”, said Mr Puigdemont. Not yet.

The EU is in a horrible bind. It faces a rule of law crisis in Hungary and Poland. It faces an East European revolt over migrant quotas. Its relations with Turkey have turned hostile. Now Spain is threatening to break up the euro unless the Catalans come to heel.

Brexit is surely the least of their problems, and one that can be solved so easily with an ounce of common sense.

Despite the purported end to creeping populism heralded by some after the election of Emanuel Macron in France, Europe is far from resolving its political challenges.