Looking at the Catalan crisis from a European angle

Last night I was a speaker in the e-conference “Looking at the Catalan crisis from a European angle“.

Listening to the arguments, it struck me that the voices we hear on both sides – Spanish and Catalan – are mainly the nationalist ones: Catalan nationalists point out that even today Catalan is not an official  language in which they can write to the government in Madrid.  But they sound like Margaret Thatcher when saying “I want my money back” – in their case from the Spanish budget, in hers from the EU. Both statements miss the benefits that flow from such transfers. The Spanish nationalists see Spain as a single entity that is indivisible, and a historic given that may not be challenged. The very idea that some people may not be happy with Spain is almost an existential challenge. But what about the others?  As a European, I look at both nationalisms and do not like what I see. Both have an aggressive tone: Why should I pay for them? vs. They must stay with us whatever they think!. The start of a solution: a meaningful EU citizenship?  Perhaps, but only if rights are matched with duties and there is a duty to fellow citizens elsewhere – there is no free lunch. Yes, speak your language, but if your neighbour cannot, do not insult them…