Ladies and gentlemen, representatives of all the associations, members of the political parties, press professionals and friends who accompany us today, good morning.
We do appreciate your presence here today and your interest in our project.
Europeans in Catalonia is a pro-European association founded to represent and defend the rights and interests of EU citizens living in Catalonia. We aim to promote the pro-European vote, to inform about Europe and to conveythe values of the European Union that are also our values.
Our association is non-profit and was founded in July 2018 by 12 EU citizens of 9 different nationalities, all residents of Catalonia. It has no affiliation with any political parties but we do collaborate with companies and organizations that have a pro-European vocation and share our interests, values and objectives.
We currently have about 50 active members of 18 different nationalities and more than 600 supporters.
Our most relevant activities so far have been:
- To create a community of EU citizens within our association and Facebook page.
- To disseminate information about the European Union, its institutions and its interventions.
- To represent and address the concerns of European citizens living in Catalonia in local, regional, national or European institutions as well as in consulates or in political parties through their representatives.
- To broadcast a weekly radio program in English at Barcelona City FM (107.3) where we discuss and analyse European topics, we interview relevant personalities and we introduce European Union countries.
- To organise events related to the EU and Europe for our members and for the general public.
- To conduct a campaign informing and helping citizens on how to register to vote in local and European elections and explaining the importance of their vote.
Taking into consideration the mentioned points, we have also joined the European Union “This time I’m voting “campaign to encourage the vote in the upcoming EU elections.
The slogan of our campaign to promote the pro-European vote – the main and most ambitious project that we have in progress – is “Have your Say!” / “Let your voice be heard!”. Its main objective is to make sure that the voice of the EU citizens residing in Catalonia reaches the institutions in the municipal and European elections.
Why do we bet on the European Union?
The European Union is without a doubt the best political project in history. Its creation in the 1950s, shortly after the end of the Second World War and more than 60 million deaths, allowed our continent to recover harmony and rebuild itself economically in only a few years.
Today, thanks to it, we enjoy the greatest period of peace and prosperity in our continent.
The two main pillars of the European project were the return of democracy after a few years of totalitarian drift, and the solidarity among Member states, which allowed unprecedented economic development.
The EU promotes the peace and well-being of its people; aims to guarantee freedom, security and justice for all its citizens; favours economic, social and environmental development; combats social exclusion and discrimination; promotes scientific and technological progress; reinforces economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among Member States; respects the cultural and linguistic diversity of its people; and establishes an economic and monetary union, among many other things.
Inclusion, Tolerance, Justice, Solidarity and Non-discrimination, as well as Human dignity, Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Rule of law and Human rights are fundamental values that prevail within the European frame and define the stable entourage where the free movement of goods, services, people and capital takes place and allows citizens to live, work, retire and travel freely, protected by its widely transparent and democratic institutions
Despite enormous difficulties, the European project has proven to be an immense social, cultural and economic success, and for that reason so many people are willing to abandon everything in order to come to Europe.
The EU is currently the largest trade and economic bloc in the world, one of the world’s largest donors of humanitarian aid and a leader in diplomacy and security. Among many distinctions, the EU has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for contributing to “transform Europe from a continent in war to a continent in peace.”
But not everything is perfect. As a human project, the EU is susceptible of improvements. We need to strengthen it in order to face the new challenges of our time: Unemployment, Energy models, Migration, Climate change, Data protection and even Democracy, which can no longer be taken for granted.
As a pro-European movement we intend to spread the values and benefits of being part of the European Union, promoting cohesion among its citizens, from their diversity to the full exercise of their rights and obligations. We believe that voting is not just a right; it is our responsibility, because by voting we legitimize and strengthen democracy and we preserve and improve the current electoral model.
We are concerned about the threats to the European project by the rise of populism, nationalism and anti-European sentiments, largely facilitated by voting abstention and fed by tabloids and fake news propagated through social networks.
How far do we want to go?
We intend to ask the European Union to equalize the voting rights of all EU citizens with permanent residency. Although European citizens living in Catalonia have the same obligations as nationals, we do not enjoy the same voting rights: we still cannot vote in General Elections. It is not an issue that concerns only Spain. Equalizing the rights of EU citizens with those of the nationals and implementing the transferability of the vote, would surely minimize the impact of populism, nationalism and anti-Europeanism, which are so harmful to the progress, growth and expansion of the European Union and represent a threat to stability and peace.
This is not a minorities matter: only in Catalonia there are currently around 450,000 EU citizens among the almost 1.5 million foreign civilians, that is, one in five people. Across the European Union as of January 1, 2017 there were almost 17 million EU citizens residing in another Member State.
We also aspire to expand the “Europeans In” concept to other territories, trying to create a network of pro-European citizens. As EU citizens residing in the EU, our rights should aim to be the same as those of nationals of a specific State or region.
Europe will grow if our voice is reflected in the institutions, and this is only possible by voting in all elections.
Finally , we want to confirm that in the defence of our rights as European citizens and of our own legal security, we strongly believe that any likely changes in the legislative status of any European region must be carried out with the utmost respect for democratic principles and Rule of law – two of the pillars of the European Union – and through the procedures of change stipulated in the existing legal-institutional order, which protects us and guarantees our coexistence, well-being and peace.