The names and reasons behind the new Europe of the twenty-first century

On the 24th  of October 1971, Pau Casals was awarded the Peace Medal before the United Nations General Assembly. His acceptance speech included a few words that reaffirmed the fact that he was Catalan and the Catalan’s people desire to be accepted as such. He reminded those present that Catalonia believes in world unity and diversity. We are the rightful inheritors of this idea because we know that the Europe we wish to construct is not one of obsolete nation-states, but rather the Europe of its peoples and that without accepting this diversity Europe is not possible.

Maestro Casals said: ‘I am a Catalan’ and he also reminded us that , ‘today it is a province of Spain. But what has Catalonia been?  Catalonia has been the greatest nation in the world. I will tell you why. Catalonia had the first parliament in the world, well before England did. Catalonia had the beginnings of the United Nations. In the eleventh century all the authorities of Catalonia met in a city of France –at that time Catalonia- to talk about peace. Peace in the world and against war. The inhumanity of wars. This was Catalonia…’.

As Casals reminded us, ten centuries later, Catalonia is still a country that fights for peace and the freedom for all peoples. This is something it wishes for  its own people, three hundred years after losing its own freedom. Once more we have the challenge of  following the path to freedom and hope for Catalonia and for all European nations.

This summer we received news of a study conducted by twenty-one European universities and led by Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona. It analyses and foresees a new wave of self-determination processes in Europe following what happened during the nineties as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This rigorous scientific study (coordinated and directed by  Professor Jaume López, who has contributed to the current issue of the CIV) refers to these possible new state entities based on three requisites: having had their own institutions during the modern era; not forming part of the majority culture of which they find themselves a part and finally, currently enjoying a certain level of decentralisation that allows them to have a share of the legislative power.

The study concludes that there are six countries in Europe that can be defined using these parameters: Scotland, Northern Ireland, Flanders, Greenland, Euskadi and Catalonia (while also mentioning Quebec in North America, due to the obvious parallels).

Untitled-1The presentation of the study coincides with the publication of the latest issue of Catalan International View, which we have decided to focus on what we propose should be called the NEEWS (New Emerging European Western States). As well as Professor López’s view, we have sought six more academic opinions, from Queen Mary, University of London, the University Ludwig-Maximilian of Munich, the London School of Economics, the University of Barcelona, Pompeu Fabra University and the SUNY Law School at Buffalo. Simultaneously, we have analysed the coming political process with important political opinions from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Flanders, Euskadi and Catalonia. It is a marvellous  document for understanding the Europe to come. We suggest it is read in view of the present and more importantly with a view to the future.

Europe is necessary, precisely because the world needs Europe; Europe needs to distance itself from the stateled, Jacobin conception promoted by De Gaulle. It needs to return to Jean Monnet’s deeper sense of Europe: a federal, diverse Europe which recognises its own roots.

By sheer coincidence, this summer Europe saw one of the largest political demonstrations in history. In Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, on the afternoon of the 10th  of July, more than a million and a half people took to the streets in favour of a new political beginning for the Catalan nation. The initial purpose of the demonstration was to protest against the Spanish Constitutional Court’s ruling against the Catalan Statute (and against the sovereign decisions taken by the Catalan parliament, the Spanish congress and the referendum conducted in Catalonia on the 18th  of June 2006). However, Catalan society, while displaying impeccable democratic behaviour throughout, went on to unanimously call for a new  future of liberty and sovereignty for the Catalan nation, in the European Union framework.

In Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, on the afternoon of the 10th of July, more thana million and a half people took to the   streets in favour of a new political beginning for the Catalan nation

 Europe faces the challenge of recognising a new map that brings it closer to the people and nations that make it a reality. It must do so without preconditions or hindrance, listening to the arguments and respecting the unalienable right to self-determination for all nations. 

We sincerely wish that this edition of the Catalan International View helps us to take this new path of understanding and consolidation of the new Europe of the twenty-first century.

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