Stereotypes about Catalonia - Gilles Cols: “Spaniards should have solidarity; it is a shame that Catalans are separatists”

Miquel Valls, president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, says, “Catalonia is the first economic region in Spain, it makes up 19% of the GDP and has solidarity with the rest of the regions”.

CNA / Raquel Correa / Maria Fernandez

November 18, 2010 10:57 PM

Brussels / Barcelona (ACN).- Gilles Cols, a Brussels resident of 26 years old, criticises Catalans for not wanting to share their wealth with the rest of the Spanish State. Cols believes that this type of solidarity is one of the bases of Europe. “I think it is very important that Catalans continue to have solidarity with other Spaniards, with the poorer regions of Spain. It is a shame that they want to be separatists”, explains Gilles. The president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, defended that Catalans are not stingy, but rather hard –working, thrifty and generous people. Valls pointed out that Catalonia is the first region in Spain in terms of economics, “making up 19% of the overall GDP and maintaining solidarity with the rest of the regions”.

Gilles Cols works as a consultant in Brussels and when he thinks of Catalonia, the first thing that comes to his head is the Barça football team. “Evidently”, he assures. Reflecting on his 6-month stay in the Catalan capital, he speaks of the “many separatists” he encountered, which he compares to the Belgian region of Flanders. “Catalans are Spaniards and Europeans”, he affirms.

Cols says Catalans “owe a lot to Europe, as all Europeans do….Because their economy is what it is thanks to Europe…When you live in Europe you must respect its values and have solidarity with all Europeans, which starts with Spaniards.” He says that Catalans should put themselves in the shoes of people who live in the poorer regions of Spain. “If they had not been born in Catalonia, but rather in the south of Spain, they would be very happy to receive aid money from other regions. We do not all have the same opportunities at birth nor access to a good job afterwards”, he adds.

“Catalans are hard-working and thrifty, but also generous”.

The president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, denies the accusation that Catalans are stingy. On the contrary, Valls considers Catalans to be “generous, which is constantly seen through campaigns of solidarity”. Valls adds that “it is also one of the European regions that helps the most through NGO aid to the third world and less developed countries…demonstrating that Catalans are committed to solidarity, a generous people”. Catalans are also “hard-working and thrifty”, claims Valls. According to him, this is the root of the historical myth.

This solidarity can also be seen when looking at the Spanish State’s fiscal balance, says Valls. “Catalonia is the first economic region in the [Spanish] State, making up 19% of the GDP. And, because of this, it is the region that pays the most taxes. These taxes are helping to improve the well being of all Spanish regions. In this sense, Catalonia provides solidarity, a lot more than it receives. This is Catalonia’s solidarity with the rest of the State”, Valls concludes.