Catalonia, a new European state
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.
President of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC)