Toni Strubell i Trueta


març 16
How come a pro-independence ticket won last May’s elections at the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce (BCC)? We stood with a young candidature that completely shattered the stereotyes of past BCC boards. It was a pro-Catalan independence commitment that won it for us. In contrast with the old idea that independence was “taboo” among Catalan entrepreneurs, our victory clearly reflects the fact that about 70% are in favour. This was what led us to win 31 of the 40 seats at the BCC last May with a much greater participation than at former elections. We really rocked the boat. Has the new BCC suffered any form of a boycott since your victory? I’m afraid so. The conservative press is dead against us. Also, last 7th February, Spain’s president Sánchez -on an official visit to Barcelona- held meetings with all major business as. sociations in Barcelona except for us. At the previous meeting of a similar nature (December 2018), before the elections, the BCC was not only the first organization to be invited, but it was on our premises that the meeting was held. Our victory has not been democratically accepted by a Spanish government that has been incapable of adapting to more competitive and democratic world. What are your main complaints about the current EU? The EU government institutions are extraordinarily slow to respond to major issues. The Balkan crisis showed that up most dramatically. The crisis of the refugees in the Mediterranean and support for the Greek government today, are huge scandals. It all goes to show that the EU is not really the solid political and social project it should be if it wants to be credible, democratic and workable. If steps in favour of cohesion and solidarity are not taken, Europe may well suffer further dismemberment and even wider international discredit. How do you judge the EU’s position before the Catalan “Procés”? Well if one thing has been demonstrated, it is that the law is not the same for everyone in the EU. People must know that in Spain the separation of powers is non-existent. But the EU political institutions have not sufficiently recognized this nor condemned Spanish police violence against voters at the 1st October Referendum. The EU remains largely silent before the stiff repression or “lawfare” being exerted against Catalans today. It should not tolerate the existence of political prisoners such as Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras and many others. Furthermore, to withdraw immunity from current Catalan MEPs would be tantamount to handing them over to biased law courts intent on punishing politicians for questioning the “sacred” unity of Spain, the safekeeping of which Franco entrusted to Prince Juan Carlos on his deathbed. Why are you calling for a Catalan State? To some this may seem like something out of the XIXth Century. But Spain has to be seen to be believed. It is the Turkey of the west. Corruption and one-sidedness in the Catalan issue have caused its once popular crown to fall into complete disrepute. It is also becoming increasingly unsustainable as an economic and political project. Catalonia needs to promote a new State model that will help to make Europe more viable and democratic. To achieve this, we sincerely believe it is the smaller regional units, rather than the silted-up states as we know them, that need to be promoted. Apart from this, on paper, Catalonia has always been the most pro-European territory in the Iberian Peninsula. We feel a Catalan State could make a major contribution to the European project that in many senses must start from scratch again. The creation of a Catalan state would also be positive for Spain because the country would be forced to ditch an economic model that disregards responsible industrialization –especially in the energy sector- and limits itself to activities associated with financial speculation and the interests of the Ibex35 financial elite based in Madrid. In what way could Europe benefit from the consolidation of a Catalan State? Despite the obstacles posed by Madrid, Catalonia is showing great strength as regards the fourth technological revolution. As credited by leading experts and international financial press, Catalonia is now the principal pole of attraction for foreign investment in Southern Europe, the third most important European nursery for start-ups and a major tourist attraction. Although this year the Mobile World Congress has been suspended -due to the Coronavirus crisis- Barcelona continues to be world capital of the mobile phone sector. In short, we feel Europe would benefit greatly from having a strong viable state in the south, one free of the traditional hinderances that Spanish rule has meant. In what way will Brexit affect Catalonia? I think Brexit is a warning both for the rich and the poor countries of Europe. The United Kingdom has been the first to pull out, but the EU’s lack of credibility as a sustainable and unified project is perceived by many Europeans for many and varying reasons. Spain is symptomatic here. It has made ill-use of the plentiful funds that have been forthcoming for decades from Europe (not to mention from Cataonia: 8% of GDP yearly). The result is that industrial development has been poor, key structures (such as the vital “Mediterranean Corridor”) left unattended and Spain continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU.

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