FERNANDO SÁNCHEZ COSTA
President of Catalan Civil Society (SCC)
Picture: Àlex García (archives)
Catalonia is in frank decline. One can see economic indicators, GDP, employment, investments, location of companies and many others. This decline is common in other regions of Spain and Europe. However, the in Catalonia is accentuated due to the so-called procés. Indeed, for years in Catalonia there has been a political instability and a social confrontation that is consuming Catalans.
In the global world, where money and people move easily, the quality of institutions is the key to the competitiveness of regions. The procés has managed to damage and destabilize Spanish democracy. But the instability of the last decade has been especially toxic for the seven million Catalans and for our economic and social future.
This 11th September, the Day of Catalonia, is an excellent occasion to put aside grudges and understand each other again
The fall in foreign investment in Catalonia in the 2017-2019 triennium is terrifying. In the competitiveness ranking of the 271 European regions, from 2010 to 2019 Catalonia has gone from position 103 to position 161. It has fallen 58 positions in 9 years and has lagged behind the European average! And the same happens with the attractiveness of Barcelona: among European cities it has gone from position 4 in 2011 to position 11 in 2019. From Catalonia, then, companies and investments are fleeing. Aragon, Valencia and especially Madrid have collected what the process has thrown.
The economic decline is linked to a clear institutional decline. One of the characteristics of Catalonia as a historical reality has been the survival and prestige of its institutions. A century ago, Valentí Almirall pointed out: “Another very noteworthy circumstance in the temperament of our people is the reluctance to raise men and their desire to root institutions.” Also on this point, the national-populist process has broken with the best Catalan tradition, promoting a messianic policy over and above the rule of law and degrading the institutions with its constant partisan instrumentalization.
As expected, everything has led to the degradation of a unique and much loved feature, the best feature of Catalonia: social cohesion which gave way instead today to the bitter confrontation between all. We agree on at least one thing: we do not deserve this sad and secluded Catalonia! We deserve to recover a Catalonia that is the locomotive of Spain, the engine of Europe, the gateway to Africa and a bridge to America. The potential of Catalonia is enormous if we recover a constructive judgment.
We still have time to change the situation. One more decade of confrontation would make the decline irreversible. It is time for an energetic mobilization of all civil society so that the decade of rupture gives way to a decade of reunion and cooperation. From decadence to resurgence. It is not easy, but it is possible. We have risen from worse situations. We need a great civic and democratic wave that puts an end to bad government and opens windows of opportunity for all Catalans.
This 11th September 2020, the Day of Catalonia, is an excellent occasion to put aside grudges and understand each other again. The longer it takes, the worse it will be for everyone. We have to overcome the confrontation, the bad life and the bitterness. Let’s mobilize to change things. Catalans, let’s stop the decline of Catalonia!