Col.lectiu Treva i Pau, 15 October 2021
Europe is our path and our future. When we say ‘Europe’ we refer to the integration process underway, formerly the European Community, today the European Union (EU). The Governement of the Generalitat of Catalonia was clear about this in its beginnings. It enthusiastically declared its Europeanism and wanted to contribute actively to the construction of European unity. In recent times, however, relations between Catalonia and Europe have deteriorated, mainly as a result of the procés.
Overcoming this situation involves three scenarios: a better Catalan presence in Madrid in order to participate in the preparation of state positions before Europe, better Catalan participation in the decision-making mechanisms of EU institutions in Brussels, and a recovery by the Generalitat of its original Europeanist spirit.
The first scenario takes the form of a more active presence in the Conference for European Union Affairs (Carue), a multilateral mechanism through which the autonomous communities intervene in the formation of the state’s will before EU institutions. The Carue tries to function in the way that is typical of politically decentralised EU member states, such as Germany.
The second scenario consists of the participation of the autonomous communities in the decision-making process of the EU Council. Since the Maastricht Treaty (1992), the EU has begun to design instruments of territorial participation, promoting subsidiarity and proximity. Windows are opening up for states with greater political decentralisation to give weight to sub-state entities in decision-making, as in the case of the German Länder or the autonomous communities. The EU wants to move progressively towards effective multilevel governance, and Brussels hopes that stateless nations such as Catalonia, which have historically shown a capacity for self-government and a strong initial commitment to the process of European integration, will play a strong role. But the reality is that the Generalitat of Catalonia has renounced since 2018 to participate in this decision-making process.
Thirdly, the Generalitat should return to the Europeanism of its early days, which has recently turned into a critical, Eurosceptic, or even Europhobic ¬Europeanism, when it realised that neither the EU nor the member states gave the desired support to its secessionist project.
The Generalitat would have to return to the Europeanism of its early days
The deterioration of relations between Catalonia and Europe has had consequences. The fluid relationship that once existed with the European Commission is no longer so fluid. And opportunities are lost, as has been seen, for example, in relation to the headquarters of three European agencies that Barcelona wanted – food safety, medicines and biomedicine to prevent future pandemics – and which in the end have ended up being awarded to other European cities.
It would be necessary to recover that pro-European impulse that led the President of the Generalitat to travel to Aachen, the ancient Carolingian capital, in 1986, when Spain joined the European Community, and in a memorable act to express “the joy of returning to Europe, of returning home” and “the will to collaborate” in its construction. It was a spirit that made the three parties involved in the integration project – Catalonia, Spain and Europe – winners.