Catalonia, a new European state

Joan Puigcercós's picture
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Twenty-four years after joining the European Union (EU), the EU still does not officially recognise our language, the Catalan language. Spain and its representatives have made all kinds of efforts to avoid this recognition during all these years. They do not care, and are not at all bothered that Gaelic, which is spoken by some 70,000 people, is already an official EU language. They do not want to see the Catalan language reach this status, though it is spoken by more than 9 million European citizens. Catalan is the 8th most spoken language in the EU, with a demographic and cultural strength far superior to many official languages in Europe. Recognising the Catalan language’s official status would mean recognising that the Spanish State is a plural reality with several languages. And one of them, the second in demographic weight and also in terms of vitality, is Catalan. However, despite this, it is underestimated.

Despite this severe lack of recognition by Europe regarding our national identity, Catalans have a deep pro-European feeling. We have always been enthusiastic participants of the European construction process. We are so participative and enthusiastic that we want to contribute to it directly, firsthand. Europe’s future is not only going through an external enlargement (Croatia, Serbia, Iceland, Turkey, etc.), but it is also experiencing an internal enlargement (Scotland, Flanders, Catalonia, etc.). Catalans, as the Scots or the Flemish, want to able to become, when our citizenry expresses so in a democratic and pacific way, a new European Union Member State.

From Barcelona, from Catalonia and from the Catalan Countries, we have always seen Europe as a space for convergence, for political and economic unity, a common space for participation. From Madrid and from Spain, they have always seen Europe as a source of funding. It must be mentioned that they have been incapable of fostering a harmonic development, as the current economic crisis has shown. The crisis is affecting the Spanish State more harshly than all of its European neighbours.

The Spanish State is thought of from Madrid and for Madrid’s benefit, with radial infrastructures that make everything go through Madrid. This has turned Madrid into a great capital of the financial and speculative economy, which is opposite from the Catalan Countries’ Mediterranean axe (Catalonia, València and the Balearic Islands). This axe drives the industrial and productive economy of the Spanish State. The Madrid-Seville axe has been united by high-speed trains for almost 20 years now while the Barcelona-València connection, the main freight corridor of the Southern Mediterranean, remains to be constructed.

Having our own state within the European and world concert is the only way of being identified and treated as we are: a nation. Because nowadays, despite being a nation, we do not have our own state that may project us into the world. We are still an unknown people. This is despite the fact that our capital, Barcelona, is one of the most dynamic and prosperous cities of Europe and the entire Mediterranean Sea.

And it is so despite the economic plundering that Catalonia suffers from the Spanish State, which has been calculated to more than 10% of our GDP. It is an unsustainable situation that puts our economy and citizens’ welfare in jeopardy.

 

Joan Puigcercós

President of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC)

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I could not agree more with you. Catalonia deserves the independence.

Mr Puigcercós's story has been told over and over and, luckily, the people of Catalonia are rejecting it in ever greater numbers. The latest electoral humiliation comes on top of the two previous debacles where the ERC has been decimated and is now no more than a radical fringe party of no significance and no influence. Mr Puigcercós's alliance with shady characters like Joan Laporta is an indication of political desperation and the three partner independentistas have been thoroughly rejected by the Catalan population.

He would help his cause if Mr Puigcercós started telling the truth instead of constantly distorting it. He fails to tell the voters that an independent Catalan state would cost taxpayers much more than the contributions Catalonia makes to the Spanish state to help poorer regions. Just the fact that he doesn't want rich Catalonia to contribute to the wellfare of less fortunate areas of Spain tells you something of his character. The fact that Catalans are an unknown people isn't Spain's fault or because Catalonia is part of Spain. It's because Catalans have done nothing remarkable and make no exceptional products. Compare with countries that do: Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Scotland, Belgium, Italy. All make exceptional products that are world renowned. Catalonia makes....nothing of note. Catalans brag about being the centre of the textile industry in Spain, but Galicia produced the only industry leading brand: ZARA. Catalans brag of being superior to "Españolitos" but they are the ones who ran away when it came time to defend their city during the civil war. Madrileños stayed and faught against an overwhelming force. Just like the Russians at Stalingrad, by the way.

It's time Catalans started being more productive and competitive. That would be a great start to building a nation that truly is an example for the rest of Spain. Catalans have more in common with other unproductive Spaniards than they have with any other neighboring peoples. Striving for independence is the last thing we need at a time of economic crisis. Smart Catalans know this. When will Mr Puigcercós wake up?

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