Catalan MEPs see EU as success story in need of serious reform
Catalan representatives in the European Parliament from all political parties agree that “there are many reasons to celebrate” Europe Day but warned that the EU should push ahead an ambitious agenda of reforms in order to survive. In the wake of Europe Day and the recent victory of Emmanuel Macron in the French Presidential Elections, the CNA spoke to the MEPs of the Republican Catalan Left (ERC), the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT), the Green Party (ICV), the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the People’s Party (PP) and Ciutadans (C’s) as well as to some independent MEPs about how they see the future of the EU.
Brussels (ACN).-On Europe Day, “there is a lot to celebrate” but also to “demand”. This is the unanimous conclusion of the Catalan MEPs, who defended in declarations to the CNA that “in spite of the problems” and “need of reforms”, the project of the European Union is a “success”. “Europe is essential, but political effort has to be made to change it,” says Ernest Urtasun of the Green Party (ICV). “We have many reasons to celebrate, but also to change,” admits Jordi Solé of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC). For the independent MEP, Francesc Gambús, a member of the European People’s Party group, it is necessary to celebrate the EU “without falling into indulgence, knowing that there are things that simply haven’t worked.” “Europe is a success of integration,” states Ramon Tremosa of the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT). “We want a better Europe,” claims Javi López of the Catalan Socialist Party.
The euroscepticism spreading over the European Union with great electoral success in Austria, France, and especially in the UK, is still far from getting a foothold in Catalonia. Despite the fact that both Austria and France were able to stop anti-EU parties from winning the elections, FPO and Front National received significant percentages of the vote, something that has no parallel in Catalonia.
All Catalan members of the European Parliament in Brussels consider that being part of the European Union is positive and that in spite of necessary reforms to revive the project, the last 60 years have been the longest period of prosperity and peace on the continent.
Ramon Tremosa, member of the European Parliament for PDeCAT, explained, “Europe is a success story of growing integration from a human, commercial, financial, and economic point of view. Every day there are more exports, more people, more investments, and more Erasmus all over the Union.”
Francesc Gambús, independent MEP of the European Popular group, said, “There are many things to celebrate today, and they are of great importance: 70 years of peace, a common market that works and which has helped us build the welfare state, the Erasmus program that has fostered the feeling of being European in a whole generation, a system of free movement which allows us to move around the continent with much more freedom than our parents or our grandparents ever had.”
Javier Nart, MEP for the liberal Ciutadans party added, “Of course we have many things to celebrate, many.” For him, the EU has brought “the longest period of prosperity, security and freedom since the end of the Roman empire”.
“We can look at the past with satisfaction, but we also have to recognize our errors, which have not been few in the last years,” said Javi López, MEP of the Catalan Socialist Party. “It’s a day to demand a better Europe: a Europe that protects its citizens, that puts more effort into building a social dimension, that guarantees public services and quality employment,” he added. In this sense, López warned that “precariousness and inequalities” generate “severe political risks” as the French elections have only recently shown, where the Front National has gained too many votes.
According to Ramon Tremosa of PDeCAT, what “is failing” is precisely the European Union “of the big centralist states of the south”. “Some southern governments are hijacking the EU. I distinguish very clearly between the EU as an unsuccessful federal embryo of European power based on a French, jacobin, not particularly democratic centralism, and the European success that will continue to move forward,” he pointed out. For Jordi Solé, MEP for the Catalan Left Republicans (ERC), Catalans should “demand” to decide their political future and to “continue being an active and direct participant” in this “positive political project”, that in many aspects “has been a success”.
Santiago Fisas, European Parliament member for the Catalan People’s Party, explained: “In spite of all the problems we still have in Europe, which indeed are many, the EU is still the most important place of prosperity and peace in the world.” “However, it is clear that we cannot sit back; the extremists, left or right, are everywhere in Europe,” he warned.
“We can complain, precisely, because we have a great project in the making, that we have to consolidate and to promote,” says Josep Maria Terricabras, MEP for the Catalan Republican Left. “It’s not bad at all to celebrate our projects as well as our everlasting hope,” he added.
Teresa Giménez Barbat, liberal member of the European Parliament, said, “We are standing our ground, we are resisting, but it has been a horrible year.” “Many countries have faced elections with huge waves of Euroscepticism,” she explained, but “the hardest blow was Brexit”. Nevertheless, the EU not only has survived, but has learned from its mistakes. “We have gained strength, we are more united,” assured Giménez Barbat.
The green-socialist Ernest Urtasun stated, “Today Europe is essential, but it also requires political effort for change, because it is undergoing an unprecedented crisis, especially in the democratic and social field.” According to him, we now need “Europe to be capable of leading globalization, to provide better public finance and to protect the welfare state, which sadly does not exist at the moment.” “It is a day to celebrate, but also to roll up our sleeves and to start working,” Urtasun concluded.