The Internationalization of Catalan Companies (IT InTransit #11)
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The Internationalization of Catalan Companies (IT InTransit #11)

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Source: IT In Transit

Source: IT In Transit

Date: December 2013.

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The Internationalization of Catalan Companies (IT InTransit #11) The Internationalization of Catalan Companies (IT InTransit #11) Document Transcript

  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 EDITORIAL The Internationalization of Catalan Companies Francesc Cabana On January 1st, 1986, Spain joined the European Economic Community, which would eventually become the European Union in 1992 in virtue of the Treaty of Maastricht. Spain’s membership was the culmination of a process that had begun back in 1978 with the first democratically elected Spanish government since the death of the dictator Franco (1975). At that time Catalonia was still “Spain’s factory,” according to the expression coined by Dr. Jordi Nadal. The enormous investments carried out by the National Institute of Industry (I.N.I.) —an instrument of the Franco régime— and the “planes de desarrollo” [development plans] that were directed by the Catalan Laureà López Rodó, had merely succeeded in creating (mostly artificial) industrial centers outside of Catalonia that would end up having to be partially dismantled by subsequent democratic governments. Madrid, on the other hand, was already the headquarters for American multinationals and all big public companies. Catalan traditional industry was not competitive on an international level, mainly because the economic policy of the dictatorship only began opening up to international markets in 1959 with the Stabilization Plan, and in a slow and partial manner to start. Spain’s entry into the EEC and the European Union was disastrous for traditional Catalan industry, which was far too protected. The textile sector, formerly state-of-the-art and the principal protagonist of the Catalan development process, would see its factories close and would be forced lay off a significant part of the industrial workforce. Terrassa and Sabadell, the two big centers of the wool industry, became cities of empty buildings; the cotton industrial colonies of the Llobregat and the Ter rivers had shut down definitively. The opening of the country’s borders to merchandise combined with the worldwide economic crisis (which coincided with the death of Franco, the transition and the first years of democracy in Spain), heralded grave problems for Catalonia. Its market was limited to the rest of the Spanish state and exports were a tiny percentage of its production. Being “Spain’s factory” had meant depending on a poor market with a low capacity for consumption. Recovery would come by way of the small and mid-sized industrial and services companies, as well as tourism. Industry had been steadily diversifying itself throughout the second half of the 20th century, while tourism from the center of Europe had been an important source of revenue for Catalonia during the economic crisis (1974- 1984), which was primarily an industrial and financial crisis. The textile industry would be rapidly substituted by companies (new and old) in the metal, pharmaceutical, food, construction and drinks –alcoholic and non- alcoholic— sectors. Service industries also appeared, in logistics, design and new technologies. What they had in common was their small and mid-sized volume and their diversity. In only a few years the Catalan economy went from being one in which the textile sector was decisive to one of complete diversification. These companies had little economic and political clout, but a great agility of movement that would allow them to adapt their structure to market demand and cater to this market with high value added products. The small and medium- size companies soon found themselves quite comfortable in the international market: first that of the European Union; next, that of the rest of the world. The traditional textile sector of cotton and wool may be a thing of the past, but new generations of business leaders have received as a legacy the same entrepreneurial spirit that had made Catalonia a “phenomenon without equal in the Mediterranean” in the 19th century, according to the aforementioned Dr. Nadal. Catalonia, which was a country of immigration throughout the 20th century, has almost found it easier to transmit this entrepreneurial culture to newcomers than the Catalan language. Perhaps because in this field and in so many others there is a notable absence of political power. The result of this economic recovery at the end of the 20th century is the appearance of hundreds of so-called “pocket-sized multinationals” that take advantage of the gaps left behind by large companies. They have found a way to make their products competitive in international markets, with factories in Catalonia, in the rest of the Spanish state, on the European continent or even other continents. These companies are going international based primarily on self-financing and a handful of public subsidies, and only have the network of the Catalan Generalitat offices abroad –COPCA with regard to industry— and the tourism promotion delegations to help them. Exports are very diverse, ranging from automobiles and perfume to the cava of the Penedès and the Christmas trees of Espinelves. Going international comes naturally to Catalan companies thanks in large part to geography and the centuries- old tradition of trade. Catalonia is a European and a Mediterranean country and its inhabitants are accustomed to traveling. All the great technological discoveries of the 19th and 20th centuries have come to the Spanish state by way of Catalonia, from the steam engine to electricity and the automobile. We may not have made great scientific discoveries, but we have introduced these advancements in Catalonia and quite often we have improved how to apply them. The European dimension is clearly present and the Mediterranean one is growing ever since access to Asian markets increased following the construction of the Suez Canal. Let us not forget that the engineer Lesseps was the Consul in Barcelona and that, thanks to his public works, in this 21st century Barcelona can be one of the principal gateways to the Asian-European commercial exchange. What would Catalonia have been able to do if it had had more political power, and if it had not been tied to a
  • centralist state? It is impossible to speculate. But it is evident that Catalan companies have evolved over thelast few years and are making the world their marketplace. In the year 2011, for the first time in its history, thepercentage of Catalan exports abroad was higher than the sales to the rest of the Spanish state.Francesc Cabana (1934) is a lawyer and an Honorary Member of the Official Association of Journalists ofCatalonia (2003) and the Official Association of Economists of Catalonia (2006). In 1998 he was presentedwith Saint George’s Cross of Catalonia. Currently he is President of the Ateneu Barcelonès. He is also authorof some fifty books on economics and the economic history of Catalonia.
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 FURTHER READING The Catalonia that business leaders want Carles Sumarroca ARA / FemCat / Col·lectiu Emma - 21.10.12 Much has been said in the last weeks about the positioning of the business sector with regard to the political and economic circumstances that we are experiencing. It seems obvious that the answer to this question cannot be stated from a strictly business or economic point of view, since every business person carries (just like any other person) cultural, sentimental and political bias. Nevertheless, FemCAT believes that there are some economic issues that need to be underlined since, regardless of political matters, they have a lot to do with what is happening. The development strategy adopted by successive governments of the Spanish state and its administrative structures in the last 30 years has not favoured the interests and specificities of the Catalan productive sector. Behind this fact lies a development model, stated more or less explicitly at times, which draws the economic plan for the state with only one pole, Madrid, of which all other things are considered subsidiary. This approach may have brought some benefits (development of large tractor companies, regulation of strategic sectors, ability to grow in Latin America...) but it has been very negative for Catalonia inasmuch as it has excluded other development models. A direct and clear consequence of this model is the distribution of investment in the infrastructures that has caused nonsensical situations, such as the absence of a rail connection between the Mediterranean ports and Europe, the deplorable state of route A2 in Girona and the lack of autonomy in the management of the Barcelona airport, to quote just a few examples. Other consequences are less visible, but no less important in the long run: the priorities set for innovation, education and vocational training policies, as well as the support structures for the productive industry. While we do not deny that some positive actions may have been undertaken, we can clearly state that in all these issues the baseline policies of the Spanish state have not responded to the needs of our industrial and export-led productive network; in some cases, they have clearly worked against these needs. The above described interpretation of the economic model and many other strictly political factors have motivated a system of tax revenues and spending that is inefficient for the whole of the state and very negative for Catalonia: disproportionate levels of fiscal deficit, maintained for such a long time, are unsustainable. They are not unsustainable just because they violate the principle of fairness that should guide the share of tax effort between citizens of different territories; an unbalanced tax collection and spending system becomes inefficient at facilitating the generation of economic growth. If a significant share of the tax effort is not invested in the most dynamic areas in order to enhance their ability to grow, they will end up choked due to the erosion of their competitive advantage. Catalonia cannot continue competing with success with countries who do invest a significant part of the tax effort of citizens and businesses into their own ability to generate wealth. We cannot have, in summary, the tax collection levels of a Nordic country and feed our productive sector with the public investment levels of an underdeveloped country. In the context of a global economy, competitive advantages are related to many factors that do not only depend on businesses, but on the strategic alignment between the private sector and the government. In a country where businesses are industry-based and export-led like ours, education, innovation, technology transfer, vocational training and internationalization policies or, to put it plainly, the sole existence of industrial policies, become indispensable in order to guarantee the development of companies and their ability to compete in the international arena. If these policies are not properly set or there are not enough resources to implement them, it does not matter how well businesses do the homework: they will not succeed in the long run. FemCAT has conducted several benchmarking trips to exemplary countries, such as Finland, Israel and Massachusetts. All of them can be taken as models for several reasons and according to their singularities, but they share a common factor: an intense collaboration between the private and the public sector, based on fully shared strategies and a long-term commitment to put them in place. Thus far, the elements that, from our point of view, have configured over a long period an economic reality that becomes, today, a political crossroads. Catalonia is an economic reality that would not have any problem to succeed in the context of an open European society, where free circulation of goods and people is a fact that will not change. In fact, it would seem that today Catalonia unites the characteristics that everyone quotes as key for overcoming the crisis: an entrepreneurial and creative society, with an industrial base and open to the world, from a commercial point of view as well as in the ability to host people and initiatives. In 2004, when the business leaders who founded FemCAT wrote the manifesto that is still our guideline, we stated “we now see that advancing requires giving new impetus to the social and economic aims of Catalans” and added “this new drive must be promoted from within political circles, but also and more importantly, in economic and social areas.” Over eight years later, and for all the above stated reasons, we think it is obvious that the frame in which our country moves does not respond to the needs of our economy, and it even plays clearly against them rather often. We need, therefore, to find a new framework that ensures, among other things, an efficient assignment of the resources we generate, as a key mechanism to guarantee the necessary competitive advantage and, in consequence, the ability for future progress.
  • Business leaders alone cannot decide which framework this must be. It will be up to the whole of our society to,in a democratic manner, draw the future without relinquishing the maximum levels of collective ambition. Wehave to do it without fear, certain that any solution that collects large consensus in our society and respondsto the legitimate ambition of our country to place itself among the most developed in the world, will also have,without a doubt, the support of our businesses.Carles Sumarroca is Chairman of FemCAT, a major association of Catalan business leaders.Translated by FemCAT and previously published on the website of Col·lectiu Emma.Photograph by Pere Tordera (Diari ARA)
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 FURTHER READING Catalonia independence for business lights is best economic option all round Jon Henley The Guardian - 22.11.12 Albert Macia is on the board of an IT multinational. Joan Cabanas is an industrial engineer doing project management in the electrical insulation sector. After a long career working for assorted multinationals, Joan Canadell is now a consultant. And Ramir de Porrate runs a successful radio frequency systems startup. The four are leading lights in the Catalan Business Circle, an employers organisation uniting 700 small and medium- sized firms who argue – with figures to back it up – that independence is now the region’s best and only option. They cite, first, the stats: Catalonia represents 8% of Spain’s territory, 16% of its population, 20% of its GDP, 25% of its tax revenues, and 35% of its exports (and 45% of high-tech exports). In return, it receives (in theory; the real figure may be much less) 11% of government investment. Beyond the figures, says Cabanas, “the real problem is that our economic model is so different to Spain’s. Catalonia’s companies tend to be small, innovative, export-oriented. Spain’s model is big, listed companies, often once state-owned, and still with strong connections to the state. So Madrid’s economic policies are just not suited to us.” Worse, says Amacia, central government policies are not suited to Spain either. “They don’t know about competitiveness, they don’t know about profitability,” he says. “They don’t invest productively or sensibly. For 35 years we’ve been waiting for a freight rail link from Valencia and Tarragona up to the rest of Europe. Instead they build high-speed trains to Galicia.” Over the past 10 years, the businessmen claim, Catalonia has paid nearly twice as much into Spanish coffers as the EU. “It’s not that we don’t want to contribute,” says Canadell. “But we don’t want to contribute to a model that doesn’t work, and that is counter-productive to our model.” The Catalan economy, says De Porrate, is “compressed – cramped by the fiscal deficit with Spain, the lack of infrastructure, the fact that everything Madrid spends is invested politically, like bailing out Bankia, rather than economically. Profitability is not a word Madrid understands.” Freed of these shackles, the men argue, an independent Catalonia could afford to promote economic growth by investing properly in infrastructure, cutting corporate taxes (and high company social security contributions) and kick-starting currently non-existent lending to small and medium-sized businesses. The credit ratings agencies would see it meant business. What’s more, says De Porrete, it should attract a high score from the outset: with a GDP of €200bn and a total debt (combining the autonomous Catalan government’s own debt with a proportional chunk of the Spanish state’s, which realistically an independent Catalonia would have to assume) of €160bn, its debt ratio would be around 80%: below the EU average. “An independent Catalonia would have a reasonable debt level, and with income higher than debt it would have the capacity to repay,” he says. “Who would not lend to it?” Perhaps more controversially, the group believes independence would be good not only for Catalonia but, longer term, for Spain and for the EU. “As soon as Spain doesn’t have the Catalonian powerhouse, it will have to change,” says De Porrete. “It will have to set about serious reforms, become efficient, think about productivity and profitability. You can’t build an economy on tourism and the construction sector.” And a more efficient and competitive Spain, they continue, is clearly good for Europe and the euro. “An independent Catalonia is a huge opportunity, for Catalonia of course, but also for Spain, for Europe – for London,” says Cabanas. Nor do they believe that when it comes to it, Spain will block independence or veto an independent Catalonia’s entry into the EU. Catalonia, they say, has two vital bargaining chips: “Some 70% of the rest of Spain’s exports pass through Catalonia,” says De Porrete. “Once we leave, the first country who’s served by us being in Europe is Spain.” And as long as Spain does not recognise Catalonia, “Catalonia will not assume any of Spain’s debts,” says Cabanas. “With 20% of its GDP gone, how else can Spain repay its debts? Madrid will have to recognise us.” In fact Catalonian independence, these men argue, could and should be the EU’s solution to part of its southern Europe problem. They have no doubts – none whatsoever – that it will come. “It’s unstoppable now,” says Canadell. “I think in one or two years, max. And within a year we’ll have a declaration that we are heading for independence. You wait.”
  • Jon Henley is a Guardian feature writer. He formerly wrote the paper’s Diary column. He joined the paperin Amsterdam and has written from Brussels, Scandinavia and most recently Paris, where he was chiefcorrespondent for nearly nine years until spring 2006Photograph: Sport Photography/Alamy
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 FURTHER READING Two plus two equals one thousand: the trade effects of independence Joint Statement of the Wilson Initiative Col·lectiu Wilson - 23.11.12 1. Catalonia is a very open economy. Both Catalan exports to and imports from abroad (including the rest of Spain) are greater than 60% of the Catalan GDP. Such a degree of openness is, overall, in line with the size of the Catalan economy. 2. Catalan trade shows a worrying dependence on the Spanish market: about 50% of Catalan exports go to the rest of Spain. European countries that are similar in size to Catalonia show greater diversification in terms of trading partners. 3. A key factor explaining the disproportionate weight of the Spanish market in Catalan trade is the inertia created by the fact that the Spanish economy was closed to the outside world for much of the twentieth century. A second important factor that explains that dependence is the infrastructure policy followed by the Spanish government, which has, on repeated occasions, refused to finance key infrastructure projects that would have facilitated trade between Catalonia and the rest of Europe – such as the reinforcement of the Mediterranean Corridor. A centralizing infrastructure policy naturally leads to centralized trade flows. 4. The current situation does not need to be permanent. Over time, the inertia of the past will gradually wane, Catalonia will achieve a degree of diversification similar to that of other countries and Catalan transactions with Spain will represent a small percentage of total Catalan sales abroad. Although this process of diversification could be considerably slow, it is in fact already noticeable in the aggregate data of Catalan trade: the share of Catalan exports to the rest of Spain has fallen from 57% in 2000 to 47% in 2011. 5. A process of independence could reduce trade between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, and thus accelerate a natural process of market diversification. Still, what would happen if Catalonia suddenly stopped selling to Spain before finding other buyers? Which would be its impact on Catalonia’s economy? Seizing upon this very legitimate concern, some political parties and their analysts have tried to intimidate Catalans with calculations that predict catastrophic falls of 9, 16, or even 19 percent of the Catalan GDP in the event of independence. Are these predictions credible? Our answer is a clear and resounding NO. 6. The starting point of the most catastrophic of these calculations consists in pointing that Catalan exports to the rest of Spain constitute more than 30% of the Catalan GDP. Accordingly, these studies argue that, if independence entails a significant drop (because of boycotts or animadversions) in purchases of Catalan products, the cost in terms of the Catalan GDP would be indeed very high. 7. It is often forgotten, however, that exports are a measure of production or total sales and that, therefore, their value includes not only the value added by the exporters but also the value of the intermediate goods used in their production. Some of these intermediate goods are produced in Catalonia, but others are imported from abroad—it is important to remember that two thirds of Catalan imports are intermediate goods. As a result, the effective percentage of value added or Catalan GDP included in Catalan exports to the rest of Spain is significantly lower—it has been estimated to be 22.5% of the GDP. 8. It is also often forgotten that the goods that cannot be sold to the rest of Spain will not be thrown away. Catalan businesses will not sit back idly: they will try to sell their products in other markets. They may sell at reduced prices—but certainly at positive prices. Consequently, the loss of value added associated with a fall of sales to the Spanish market will depend on how much prices would have to be reduced in order to sell those products to the rest of the world. 9. In order to generate 9% falls in GDP as a consequence of independence, one must assume that Catalan exports to the rest of Spain will fall by 80% and that Catalan producers will have to sell these goods to other countries at half-price. Under these assumptions, the boycott would affect 0.8 x 22.5 = 18% of the value added or Catalan GDP and Catalonia would lose, due to a price reduction, 0.5 x 18 = 9% of its total GDP. Fortunately, these hypotheses are simply absurd, and, therefore, the numbers they generate are absurd too. 10. It is very unlikely that Catalan exports to the rest of Spain will fall by as much as 80%: a/ First, a boycott of this size would have severe consequences for the Spanish economy. This simply means that the threats of boycotts suffer by the same problem the threats to leave Catalonia out of Europe do: they are not credible. That is, Spain may have an incentive to announce them now but, when push comes to shovel, it will find it hard to carry them out given how they will affect it too. b/ Second, it is hard believe that consumers and Spanish companies would boycott multinational companies located in Catalonia – such as Nestlé, BASF, Volkswagen, Nissan, and Repsol – because it would be difficult to distinguish whether the products of these companies came from Catalonia or elsewhere and because the Spanish people would not want to harm their European partners’ companies (such as Volkswagen) and, even less, their own companies (such as Repsol). In 2006 all multinational companies based outside of Spain represented 40% of all Catalan industrial production and a probably even larger share in Catalan exports. This means that a boycott of Catalan products would be unlikely to affect more than 60% of Catalan sales to Spain.
  • c/ Third, there is likely to be a greater propensity to boycott consumer goods than intermediate and capitalgoods. Catalan export data for 2011 shows that only one third (1/3) of Catalan exports are associated withconsumer goods. Therefore, in the extreme case in which the boycott affected 50% of consumer goods and 20%of capital and intermediate goods produced by companies with mostly Catalan capital, the fall of exports to theSpanish market would be only 0.6 x (1/3 x 50% + 2/3 x 20%) = 18%. Since we believe that Spanish consumersand companies are rational, there should be no boycott. However, we may be wrong. In any case, it is veryunlikely that a boycott would affect about 18% of Catalan exports to the rest of Spain.11. Empirical evidence suggests that the average price reduction required to sell Catalan products potentiallyboycotted by Spain to the rest of the world is in the range of 10% to 40% (25% being the value used by mosteconomists). In order to calculate the effect of such reduced prices on the Catalan GDP, one should also considerthe costs of services associated with transporting these goods and services to foreign markets that are not paidto Catalan firms. We estimate that these costs paid to foreigners, which are equivalent to a reduction in the netselling price, would be at most 10% of the export value.12. These observations lead us to conclude that in the worst-case scenario, sales would drop 18%, and a pricedrop of 40 + 10 = 50% would be necessary to reallocate the sales. Under such as pessimistic scenario, the fallin Catalan GDP would be 0.18 x 0.5 x 22.5 = 2.0%. For the more plausible price reduction of 25 + 10 = 35%,the fall in Catalan GDP would be 0.18 * 0.35 * 22.5 = 1.4% of the GDP. And these calculations still assumethat a boycott against Catalan consumer goods would be almost 10 times (60% vs. 6.5%) higher than the2005 boycott against Catalan cava. In short, any reasonable scenario indicates that the commercial effects ofindependence would have a relatively small impact on the Catalan GDP, especially when compared to the 8%fiscal dividend of independence.13. Some analysts have drawn an even more catastrophic scenario, in which an independent Catalonia wouldbe outside the EU, presumably because Spain would veto its entry. As we explained in detail in the document“Europe, Oh Europe” (http://www.wilson.cat/en/comunicats-conjunts/item/197-europa-europa.html), inorder to stay in European market and maintain free circulation of goods (i.e., trade without tariffs) Catalonianeed not be a part of the EU. It would only have to sign bilateral agreements, such as those Switzerland hassigned with the EU. EU treaties establish that such bilateral agreements do not require unanimity, but only aqualified majority. In addition to this, European legislation would allow Catalonia to negotiate those agreementseven before it became a sovereign state (see, for example, the communication of the European CommissionCOM (2012) 602 final, 10 October 2012).14. It is often mentioned that independence may affect the localization of firms. To consider this point, we needto address a previous question first: why would companies want to leave Catalonia? Certainly, it is conceivablethat some companies would want to leave if they were faced with a catastrophic scenario where widespreadboycotts lowered sales to the rest of Spain by 80% and lowered the Catalan GDP by 9%. Remember, however,that relocating is a process that involves very high fixed costs and that it only pays off when boycotts are oflong duration. Moreover, as explained above, a scenario where sales in the rest of Spain fall by 80% is simplyabsurd. If a boycott ended up resulting in a small decline in GDP, the effect on la business delocalization wouldalso be small.15. Could it be the case that multinationals would not want to stay in Catalonia because its market would be toosmall? Some countries that have attracted large flows of direct investment in recent years, such as Ireland andBelgium, have economies that are similar in size to the Catalan economy. In fact, multinational companies onlycare about the size of an economy when the economy is closed to the outside. Yet, if, as we argued earlier, thedecline in Catalan trade were small and if it also had a negligible effect on companies with foreign brands (suchas multinational firms), bringing in the argument about Catalonia’s small size is not convincing.16. This does not mean, however, that in an independent Catalonia there would be no relocations, that companyheadquarters would not be moved away to Madrid or that business would be never closed. It is evident that allthese could happen—in the same way that there have been and there will continue to be if Catalonia continues aspart of the Spanish state. The key question, in our opinion, is the effect that Catalan independence would haveon the incentives of Catalans to create new companies. Here, we should point out two facts. First, independencewould give the Catalan government more discretion and resources to carry out investments in infrastructureor to carry out fiscal policies that would increase the incentives of foreign companies to locate their productioncenters in Catalonia. Second, regarding the creation of new companies, it is difficult to imagine that a futureCatalan state should establish worse regulations than those that currently exist in Spain. Without going anyfurther, the report “Doing Business”, published annually by the World Bank, puts Spain at position 136 in aranking of 185 countries in terms of ease of creating new businesses. In terms of entrepreneurship, one canonly say that “Spain is not Uganda [ranked 144 in “Doing Business”]” in a tongue-in-cheek manner.Col·lectiu Wilson / Wilson InitiativePol Antràs (Ph.D., MIT) Professor at Harvard UniversityCarles Boix (Ph.D., Harvard) Professor at Princeton UniversityJordi Galí (Ph.D., MIT) Senior Researcher at the Center for Research in International Economics (CREI)Gerard Padró i Miquel (Ph.D., MIT) Professor at the London School of EconomicsXavier Sala i Martín (Ph.D., Harvard) Professor at Columbia UniversityJaume Ventura (Ph.D., Harvard), Senior Researcher at the Center for Research in International Economics(CREI)Reprinted with permission from the Wilson Initiative. Originally published on the webpage of the WilsonInitiative: www.wilson.catRecommended further reading (original extended version of this article in Catalan): Dos més dos són mil.Pol Antràs i Jaume Ventura (http://wilson.cat/ca/mitjans-escrits/articles-dels-membres/item/216-dos-m%C3%A9s-dos-s%C3%B3n-mil-els-efectes-comercials-de-la-independ%C3%A8ncia.html)
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 FURTHER READING Catalonia is presented as a biotechnological cluster at Bio Boston 2012 Catalan News Agency - 22.06.2012 Barcelona (ACN).- Catalonia is the most important biotechnology business cluster in Spain, with more than 1,100 companies and with a turnover of €15 billion, 29.4% of the Spanish total. The pillars of the Catalan biomedical sector are companies such as Grifols, research centres such as Barcelona’s Biomedical Research Park, and university hospitals such as the Hospital Clínic. This is the main highlight of Ernst & Young’s Catalonia Life Sciences Report 2011, which was presented at the 2012 Boston Bio fair with the presence of the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas. 60% of the Spanish companies present at this year’s edition of the most important trade fair of the sector –Bio Boston– were Catalan. The President of Catalonia, who is on an official visit to the United States, visited the fair to encourage 70 Catalan companies and organisations participating at the fair to continue their work as one of the flagships of the Catalan economy. The day before he had visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he met with Catalan researchers. In his visit to Massachusetts, Mas also met with the former State Governor and US presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, and the current Governor Deval Patrick, with whom he signed a cooperation agreement. Besides leading the Spanish market, Catalonia is becoming a biomedical cluster in Southern Europe in its own right, emphasises the report issued by Ernst&Young. Catalonia has more than 1,100 companies, organisations and research centres working on Life Sciences, employing around 30,000 people (22,000 in private companies and 8,000 in publicly-owned research centres). And most of them work in biomedicine, a sector whose world leaders are states such as Massachusetts. Catalonia’s biomedical sector has 481 companies, 80 research centres, 20 scientific parks, 15 hospitals with their own research programmes, and 12 universities. Hospitals, universities and research centres have 435 research groups, which lead studies at world level in the field of oncology or neurodegenerative diseases. The Catalan President stated that Catalonia uses Massachusetts as a model, as both share a similar geographical and demographic size, and a similar economic structure. Despite the American state’s economy being around 60% larger than Catalonia’s, both have an important industrial sector, based on innovation and exporting. In addition, both Massachusetts and Catalonia have a powerful biotechnological industry, although that of the American state is much more important than the Catalan. Furthermore, both territories are significant tourist destinations, although Catalonia leads in this sector. Photograph: J. Bedmar
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 FURTHER READING Grifols makes net profit of €133.5 million in the first half of 2012 Catalan News Agency / David Tuxworth - 31.07.2012 Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan pharmaceutical company Grifols, specialised in the production of plasma derivates, has seen its turnover increase by 15% in the first half of 2012, to €1.316,7 billon euros. Ranked third for world production of pharmaceuticals derived from blood plasma, the company reported in June a total net profit of €133.5 million for the first half of the year, increasing its return by almost sevenfold compared to last year. The company has upgraded its operational efficiency after the integration of US based Talecris and estimates that this will generate $300 million per year beyond 2015. Over 90% of Grifols’ profit comes from the international market. Joint sales in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece account for 13% of total revenues. As a global company, Grifols markets and distributes its products in more than 90 countries and its various subsidiaries operate directly in 24 countries. The geographical breadth of the pharmaceutical producer minimises its foreign exchange risk. However the recent fluctuations in the dollar have been favourable for the company and sales in the United States have increased by about 20%. After the purchase of Talecris, over 90% of Grífols’ revenue comes from outside of Spain, accounting for 1.2 billion euros of sales in the first quarter. The reported revenue increased by 107.2%, although they do not include sales by Talecris from January to May 2011 as the company was being purchased during this period. Photograph: ACN
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 FURTHER READING Cava starts to become the sparkling wine of choice in Europe with record levels of exports Catalan News Agency / David Tuxworth - 12.09.2012 Barcelona (ACN).- The popularity of Cava has significantly increased in the past decade in European markets. According to statistics from the Cava Regulatory Board, the production of Catalan Cava for foreign exportation has increased from around 100 million bottles in 2001 to over 150 million bottles in 2011, a 50% increase over a ten year period. The perception of Cava as a “cheap alternative to champagne” has been difficult for Catalan producers of higher quality Cava to overcome. European consumers are still reluctant to pay more for the higher quality versions of the Catalan sparkling wine produced using the ‘Méthode Champenoise’. However, being a non-expansive product compared to Champagne is also an advantage in times of economic crisis. Nonetheless, many wine connoisseurs state that higher quality Cava is on the same level as Champagne, and better priced. Beth Willards, from the UK wine retailer, Laithwaites, told ACN that “higher end producers [of Cava] can compete with Champagne in terms of elegance and quality. The problem is the ability to sell these wines in a market dominated by big cheaper brands”. Yet 2011 was a record for foreign exports with a 2.07% increase over 2010. In 2011 the three main importers of Cava were Germany, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. The European sparkling wine market has changed in recent years with an increasing tendency for Cava to be the consumer’s sparkling wine of choice. According to statistics from the Cava Regulatory Board, over 150 million bottles were exported in 2011, a 50% increase over ten years. However the success of high quality brands of this Catalan sparkling wine has been hindered by long-established and frequent comparisons to Champagne. Champagne has always been marketed as a luxury product and for the most part holds a monopoly in the sparkling wine market as the symbol of celebration and opulence. The inclination to refer to Champagne as the genuine product and to other sparkling wines such as Cava and Prosecco as cheap alternatives or imitations is principally down to the countries’ marketing strategies and in reality is less to do with quality, both Cava and Champagne are made using the same ‘Méthode Champenoise’ and have their own characteristics. Consumers tend to be very familiar with the lowest quality and cheapest ranges of Cava, which are those often compared to expensive Champagne. However, wine connoisseurs state that a comparison of higher quality ranges of Cava with Champagne is a fairer comparison and it’s been shown that a preference of one over the other can be simply a matter of taste. In fact, some wine connoisseurs have recently stated they prefer premium Cava over Champagne, as being less buttery but more refreshing. However, at a time of economic crisis Cava’s image has been beneficial, achieving a historic record for foreign exports in 2011 (with a 2.07% increase over 2010) according to the Cava Regulatory Board. The top three importers are Germany, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. For example in the United Kingdom, which the Cava Regulatory Board reports imported 32 million 75cl units of Cava last year, the increase in Cava’s popularity can be attributed to a number of factors, the economic crisis, changing attitudes towards the drink and an adjustment in marketing by supermarkets. Beth Willard from one of the United Kingdom’s most popular wine retailers, Laithwaites, told ACN that “The Cava market in the UK is dominated by a couple of big brands which can meet the lower key price points. Consumers are familiar with these wines, and the prices, so therefore the general consumer perception of Cava is a cheap alternative to Champagne”. Cava has benefited from the economic crisis in this way as consumers seek less expensive alternatives. Supermarkets have reacted to this development, for example the discount chain Aldi, stated that “We introduced Cava into our range in November 2011 in the UK” and that Cava sales “have seen a growth of 49%” in the last few months. Cava esthablished its market niche in Europe as a cheap alternative to Champagne years ago Historically, Catalonia had pushed Cava as a cheap alternative to Champagne to find their market niche, normally exporting the lowest quality Cava, which was produced in large quantities. European supermarkets reacted accordingly by selling it as a cut-price sparkling wine. However Willard believes that, “the real strength of Cava production is the higher end producers who can compete with Champagne in terms of elegance and quality. The problem is the ability to sell these wines in a market dominated by big cheaper brands”. Although higher quality Cava is difficult to sell in an established sparkling wine market, there is a consumer base for good quality Cava in the UK. The upmarket chain of supermarkets Waitrose told ACN that “Cava is increasingly popular with our shoppers and we now stock more Cava than ever before”. The image of less expensive Cava is moving towards a drink in its own right, and its lower pricing compared to Champagne means that it has been successful in foreign markets. However this pricing also means it is challenge for producers of premium quality Cava is to overcome the outdated image of Cava being exclusively a cheap product and the general bias towards Champagne. While Catalan producers have succeeded in establishing themselves abroad and are enjoying an increase in popularity in countries such as the United Kingdom, it
  • generally remains a cheap and cheerful product that has not begun to permeate the lucrative luxury marketthat is so fiercely defended by Champagne, despite wine critics putting them both at a similar level when fairlycompared.Photograph: ACN
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 FURTHER READING Tarragona’s chemical hub represents 25% of Spanish total Catalan News Agency / Núria Torres - 16.10.2012 Tarragona (ACN).- On Tuesday, the Association of Chemical Companies of Tarragona (AEQT) presented its 2012 report with data from 2011. Tarragona is the main chemical hub in Spain and one of the most important in Southern Europe. It represents 25% of Spain’s chemical sector and around 7% of Catalonia’s GDP. The chemical industries based in Tarragona, such as BASF, Dow Chemical, Bayer, Ercros and Repsol, expect to increase their global turnover for 2012 by 4%, reaching €14.5 billion. The AEQT report explains that in 2011 Tarragona’s chemical hub was exporting 60% of its production while in 2000 this share only represented 30%. During the report’s presentation, the AEQT – which groups the business owners of the chemical companies – also put its main claims upfront. AEQT’s Chairman, Joan Pedrerol, stated that their main concern is to improve transport infrastructure, mainly the international-width standard railway connection between Central Europe and Tarragona’s port. This project has been delayed many times by the Spanish Government, but now it has included the connection with Tarragona harbour in its 2013 budget. “We need this now” in order to export, emphasised Pedrerol, who celebrated this inclusion but lamented the lack of funds for other strategic projects, such as the A-27 motorway. He also criticised the increase in energy taxes as they might have an effect on competitiveness. Besides this, regarding Catalonia’s hypothetical independence, Pedrerol stated: “we will respect what will be decided and we will adapt to it”. Tarragona’s chemical industry leads Spain’s chemical sector and exports. Tarragona’s petrochemical hub exported 60% of its production, while the sector’s average in Spain is 50%. In the last 11 years, the exports from Tarragona’s chemical hub have been growing annually by 8% on average. In 2000 exports represented 30% of the production and by 2011 they had reached 60%. AEQT’s turnover to increase by 4% in 2012 Forecasts indicate that the AEQT companies’ turnover will reach €14.5 billion in 2012, 4% more than in the previous year. This means they represent 25% of Spain’s entire petrochemical industry, which expects a global turnover of €57.8 billion. Tarragona’s chemical hub expects to continue this growth, especially regarding exports. According to forecasts, they would add €700 additional million to the annual turnover by 2014. However, the increase of energy costs is an obstacle they will have to face. “We have set up 1,190 MW of power, 820 MW of which come from combined cycle plants. Therefore, we will have to watch out in order not to lose competitiveness” because of the energy tax increase, explained Pedrerol. He criticised the tax increase decided by the Spanish Government in order to cover the electric companies’ deficit. “The energy sector should be at the service of companies, and not the other way round”, he stated. On Catalonia’s independence: “we will respect it […] and we will adapt to it” Asked about a hypothetical independent Catalonia, the AEQT stated they “will adapt to it” if it came. They stated they are much more concerned about economic issues, such as infrastructure projects, than about political debates. “We will respect what will be decided and we will adapt to it”, stated Pedrerol, who clarified that the companies would not abandon Tarragona in this scenario. Improving infrastructures is the main concern Pedrerol insisted that their main concerns are the building of infrastructure projects such as the railway connection linking Tarragona’s port with Central Europe through international-width standard railway, which would allow trains to go non-stop from Tarragona’s chemical plants to Central Europe and to the city harbour. The Spanish Government has finally budgeted €50 million in 2013 to build the international-width connection with Tarragona’s port. Pedrerol celebrated this investment, but lamented the delay and that other projects such as the A-27 motorway have no budget. “What gives confidence to companies is putting infrastructures as a priority”, he stated. “Our hub’s road map focuses on people’s talent, product innovation and competitiveness’ increase”, he concluded. Photograph: Núria Torres
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 OPINION After the Elections in Catalonia How things stand in Catalan politics after November 25 Col·lectiu Emma - 1.12.12 Dozens of foreign correspondents converged on Barcelona to cover the Catalan elections of November 25. On the whole, international media have provided a fair account of events and a reasoned assessment of the various issues at play. For most neutral observers, the ballot results certify that the state of opinion expressed in the massive pro-independence rally of September 11 is here to stay and that it has now become a definite political option. As is becoming usual, the same facts have been given a different spin by the Spanish media. Aligning themselves with the views of the political class in Madrid, most commentators have placed the accent on the setback suffered by Catalan President Artur Mas. This has been portrayed as a defeat of the secessionist agenda –and yet the Spanish government is adamant in denying Catalans the right to say how they feel about independence in a referendum that it is afraid to lose. Although Mr. Mas did not get the solid majority he was seeking, his coalition remains by far the leading force in Catalan politics. His new government will have a harder time running the affairs of a complex society in a time of crisis, but that wouldn’t have been made much easier by an absolute majority in Parliament. And for once the chief opposition party is not a hostile entity bent on undermining the administration’s every move. These two forces –Mr. Mas’s Convergència i Unió and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, led by Oriol Junqueras, a relative newcomer– will need to reach difficult compromises on many issues, but the essential part of the deal will be something that they –and others– basically agree upon: drawing a road map for the transition to full sovereignty for the Catalan people. *** The people’s right to decide about their future as an independent nation was the central issue in this election. An unprecedented participation –close to 70 per cent of eligible voters– has produced a more accurate picture of where Catalan society stands on this, as two big unknowns have been largely dispelled. First, the extent of the unionist vote. In spite of massive backing from the national media and after an unscrupulous campaign staged by the political forces in Madrid and echoed by their client parties in Catalonia, that option has obtained just over one third of seats in Parliament. Second, it had been predicted that many of the longtime supporters of Mr. Mas’s right-of-center party wouldn’t go along with the more radical line he was taking. In fact, the middle-class backbone of Catalan society has renewed its support to a very large extent –with over 1.1 million votes. The more conservative layers of society have come to realize that –in the words of Jordi Pujol, the elder statesman of Catalan politics– “in the present financial, political and institutional conditions imposed by Spain, Catalonia is not viable”. On this, they have joined others that had traditionally been more explicit in demanding wider freedom for Catalonia. With exceptional results: the aggregate vote for parties favoring the Catalans’ right to decide has won the day by almost a two-thirds majority. Perhaps the main message sent by voters in this election is that setting off on the road to independence is not the exclusive project of one party or one leader, but the shared aspiration of a majority of the people. Catalans have now entrusted their leadership with finding a way beyond a status quo within Spain which they consider unsustainable. And if this election’s results are read as an early proxy for the inevitable referendum on becoming a new state in Europe, it can be said that the process leading to Catalan statehood is already on its way. Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Their goal is to ensure that the world’s public opinion gets a fair picture of the country’s reality today and in history. They aim to be recognized as a trustworthy source of information and ideas about Catalonia from a Catalan point of view. http://www.collectiuemma.cat/
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 OPINION Unless Catalan parties can work together, there is a danger that Catalonia could soon become ungovernable Montserrat Guibernau - 30.11.12 The pro-independence parties have won the Catalan election. They have obtained 71 seats out of a total of 135 in the Catalan Parliament. However, the result is far lower than initially predicted and weakens the leadership of Artur Mas. His Convergence and Union party (CiU), has won the Catalan election by obtaining 50 seats, having received 30.68 per cent of the vote, corresponding to 1,112,341 votes. However, CiU has lost 12 seats. In this election, the biggest winner is the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) – a party in favour of independence, which has moved from having 10 seats to 21, thus obtaining 13.68 per cent of the vote equivalent to 496,292 votes. It looks as if many traditional CiU supporters have decided to vote ERC instead, under the idea that they would be much more efficient in leading the process towards Catalan independence. The CiU also appears to have paid the toll of being in government at a time when harsh economic measures have been applied to the Catalans. In spite of having won the election, CiU has obtained a bad result and Artur Mas does not have the clear majority he sought to obtain. Three key factors have contributed to alter the election forecast by generating a complex situation in the Catalan Parliament. First, participation reached a record 69.56 per cent – over 10 points above that registered in the last election (58.78 per cent). Second, the Spanish government has been much more pro-active than in previous regional elections by launching an effective campaign highlighting the perils of secession and arguing against the political parties defending the sovereignty option. Third, repeatedly Article 2 of the Constitution has been invoked to remind people that ‘the Constitution is based upon the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation’ while Article 8 has been cited to remind citizens that ‘the Army’s mission is to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain’. A further distinctive feature of this election has been the end of the traditional voting pattern initiated in the early stages of the Spanish transition to democracy, one that would generally confer an electoral victory to Catalan nationalists in regional elections – primarily due to the abstention of a large section of the Barcelona Metropolitan area. (It encompasses citizens originating from other parts of Spain who migrated to Catalonia in the 1950s and 1960s). In contrast, the Metropolitan area turn out tends to be higher in general elections. At this stage, it is important to stress that Catalans have always granted victory to the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in all general electoral contests since democracy was restored in 1977. The governability of Catalonia has been seriously affected by the electoral results; CiU needs the support of other political forces to rule and, so far, no political party – nor the Socialists, or the Republicans – seems prepared to strike a deal with Mas. They know that an eventual participation in a coalition government would make them co-responsible for further cuts that are in the pipeline. The moment Spain formally applies for a bailout will result in a situation in which dependence on the EU would rise even further, thus taking away, to a considerable degree, significant aspects of Spanish sovereignty. This has the potential to generate further instability, and the governability of Catalonia could become a major issue unless the current situation is satisfactorily sorted out. If Catalonia becomes impossible to manage, two possible outcomes might be contemplated: new elections to the Catalan Parliament and even the decision of Spain to take over and ‘suspend’ Catalan autonomy. These are extremely serious measures. This explains why now, in Catalonia, it is much more comfortable to be in opposition than in government. Oriol Junqueras, ERC leader, has offered to support the government regarding measures oriented towards the development of a pro-independence strategy. But, even if this were to be the case, how far and for how long could Catalonia be governed in this manner? A government has to rule looking after all citizens. Social welfare is paramount. A possible way out would be to create a government including key representatives of the main political parties as a response to an exceptional situation both in social and economic terms, but also in political terms. Catalonia cannot continue accumulating an annual deficit of 8.5 per cent of its GDP, regardless of who is in government both in Madrid and Barcelona. It is also paramount to acknowledge that, although Catalonia has a majority in favour of independence – 57.73 per cent – a significant sector of the electorate – 35 per cent – stands against it. Their position has the support of the main Spanish political parties; the conservative Popular Party (PP) and the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), which have the majority in the Spanish Congress. While, as it stands, the strength of the pro- independence sector would be tested by their ability to offer a viable way forward which is capable of integrating different sensibilities within the already divided independence movement. However, the seriousness of the current economic, social and political situation calls for responsibility, a furthering of democracy and dialogue as the way forward. Montserrat Guibernau is Professor of Politics at Queen Mary College, University of London. She holds a PhD and an MA in Social and Political Theory from the University of Cambridge and a degree in Philosophy from the Universitat de Barcelona. She has taught at the universities of Warwick, Cambridge, Barcelona, the London School of Economics and the Open University. Guibernau has held visiting professorships at the
  • universities of Edinburgh, Tampere, Pompeu Fabra, the UQAM (Quebec) and the Austrian Academy ofSciences. Currently she holds a visiting fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, LondonSchool of Economics. Montserrat Guibernau is the author of numerous books and articles on nationalism, thenation-state, national identity, and national and ethnic minorities in the West from the perspective of globalgovernance.)She is also on the Advisory Council of InTransit.Photo Credit: Stasiu Tomczak (Creative Commons BY)
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 OPINION “Keep calm and speak Catalan” Xavier Antich - 10.12.12 Catalonia is not asleep or convalescent. A few hours after Minister Wert’s proposed draft of the Organic Law for the Improvement of the Quality of Education was made public, social networks and the media became vehicles of the citizenry’s widespread consternation. Although it was only a draft, everyone immediately understood that the document aimed to establish a doctrine. And quite understandably, in Catalonia the initiative has been perceived as an act of aggression and a declaration of hostilities. Among the spontaneous reactions to Wert’s proposed draft, one had spectacular success: a poster with a red background and a slogan in white lettering that said, “Keep calm and speak Catalan.” Through Facebook and Twitter, in mere hours the formula had crystallized a state of opinion. Perhaps because I had been rereading Gaziel (Quina mena de gent som) [“What kind of people we are”], I found the slogan superb. Gaziel postulates that we Catalans have always fared poorly in wars, and that when we have come to blows with what he calls Castile (Spain, in other words), Catalonia has always been the one on the receiving end: “if there is a fight, the one who has the power is the one we interpret to be the hero.” And Catalonia, so Gaziel believes, does not tend to be very heroic or bellicose. This diagnosis is actually quite good for the times ahead: to keep calm and move forward, paying no heed to provocations. This is what the slogan appears to be calling for, which Josep Maria Ganyet adapted from the one the British government had created during the Second World War to raise the spirits of its citizens (“Keep calm and carry on”). Calmly, therefore, several considerations are in order: To start, the euphemistic nature of the law: the proposed draft shows no interest in the quality of education. Paying no attention to the deficits of the system we education professionals have been denouncing for decades, the law favors a reactionary process that goes against a democratic, decentralized and participative school system, and seeks to re-impose procedures that had already been happily banished. Secondly, the law seeks a recentralization that gives the Spanish government back the exclusive capacity to design the Catalan education system and define the contents of its core subjects. In addition, the law relegates the Catalan language to the status of a third language, after the Spanish language and the first and second foreign languages. And, lastly, it opens the door to the imposing of an apartheid linguistic model that segregates students according to their chosen vehicular language. It is impossible to imagine anything more absurd. Thirdly, Wert has turned into a caricature of sorts and has borne the brunt of the fury, yet many people forget that the minister is a mere instrument of the PP’s hard-line doctrine, one that had been carefully honed over time within the FAES [think tank of the PP], where Wert himself had published documents over the last few years that would be the basis for this proposed draft: all of them can be consulted easily. Fourth, it is important to point out an aberration in the Spanish constitutional machinery: despite Catalonia having jurisdiction in education matters, the forth force to emerge from the recent elections in the Catalan parliament aims to impose, using the [PP’s] absolute majority in the Spanish Cortes, an option that is politically and sociologically irrelevant in Catalonia. The language immersion system, which makes Catalan the vehicular language, has already been approved by the majority of the citizenry and the institutions of Catalonia, as well as the highest international bodies. And it is, in addition, a red line for the Catalan government. Wert’s legislative initiative responds to the mood of certain political and opinion-based sanctums in Madrid regarding the Catalans: “Now we’ll show them!” It is an odd mix of bravado, hot-headedness and arrogance that coincides with the (incomprehensibly wide-spread) feeling that they have won and that what they call the “pro-independence ultimatum” has lost. It is hard to know what data they are using as a basis for such a delirious conclusion, but everyone has their own perceptions of reality. In the end, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they gave Catalanism up for dead. But another thing is tolerating persecution, because Wert’s initiative crosses a red line: Catalan as a vehicular language in the education system. The Catalan government has several options. We already know that it will use all possible legal mechanisms to appeal this offensive that seeks to cripple Catalonia’s self-government. But, in addition, it will have to stop the new normative from being put in place: the Catalan government and the parliament can and must refuse to comply with a normative that attacks the educational foundation of our social co-existence. They should not rule out making a solemn and formal declaration in Parliament of the contempt of Catalan institutions. Forty years ago under the Franco regime, Catalan society still spoke of “Castilians” and “xarnegos”[Spanish- speaking immigrants living in Catalonia] to mark a distinction between the local community and the foreign community. Anyone, except the odd idiot, can agree that the disappearance of these detestable expressions from Catalonia is an unquestionable merit of the language immersion system. Today there are only Catalans, and the language they speak does not segregate or classify them into separate ghettos. And this is how things will remain. It is non-negotiable. If the Spanish government understands this, then perfect. But if it does not, then that is their bad luck. “Keep calm and speak Catalan.” Let us move forward calmly, peacefully, in agreement with the majorities in place. As if nothing had happened. And in Catalan. Xavier Antich has a PhD in Philosophy and Professor at the University of Girona.
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 IN DEPTH Barcelona: the capital of Catalonia Joaquim Llimona Catalan International View · Issue 13 · Autumn 2012 In the past, Barcelona was involved in intense international activity aimed at strengthening and structuring the international municipal movement, particularly during Mayor Maragall’s terms in office. The most visible result of these efforts was the creation of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), which are based in and led by Barcelona. Simultaneously, beginning with the 1992 Olympics, the Barcelona brand has generated an international appeal that has clearly positioned the city as a leading global asset which is often sought after as a partner in diverse activities and collaborations on a global basis. There is a need to carefully analyse and evaluate the benefits which the city obtains from this state of affairs, and the subsequent costs in terms of time and money. In doing so we can give the correct focus to the city’s interests, especially in terms of the international networks of which Barcelona is a member, in order to determine where to place an emphasis and where political involvement is required. The council must also ensure that it seeks the participation of everyone involved in the city. Barcelona has significant international assets, which can combine with and strengthen more strictly institutional actions. The aim of the new city government, therefore, should be to develop innovative initiatives in the international arena and to apply new methods to initiatives which are currently under-performing. In the field of international relations, for example, which is not the direct responsibility of the city council or one of its obligations, the criterion of profitability of actions must be taken into account, with an emphasis on continuity in the actions being undertaken. Furthermore, Barcelona’s international activities ought not to be separated from the fact that it is the capital of Catalonia. Barcelona is nowadays our country’s most important international asset, and the development of its potential should take into account its role as the capital, both in functional terms (e.g. investments, tourism potential, infrastructure and logistics) and the promotion of its own identity, language and culture. In this sense Barcelona’s international image ought to form a part of these efforts. This new philosophy in terms of the city’s international projection results in the establishment of certain priorities. During the current term in office we work on the following areas and activities: Capital of the Mediterranean Barcelona sees its role as the capital of the Mediterranean as fundamental to its identity and has certain arguments that support such a goal. The municipal government’s actions in this area are aimed at the institutional level, firstly giving active support to the Permanent Secretariat of the Unió per la Mediterrània (the Union for the Mediterranean, UpM), which is working to present a strategic project of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation as one of the UpM’s areas of operation. The city council also participates in the creation of a Centre for Mediation in Mediterranean Conflicts and supports the creation and location in Barcelona of the Mediterranean Court of Arbitration. Barcelona needs to consolidate its position as the diplomatic capital of the Mediterranean. Being the capital also involves exporting the city model by strengthening bilateral ties with Mediterranean cities such as Casablanca, Tunis, Istanbul and Tel Aviv, and providing a model for countries undergoing political transition. Finally, a capital needs to be built in terms of infrastructure and its ability to attract investment. The development of the port, the airport and Zona Franca (a logistics and industrial area) should be targeted at strengthening Barcelona’s potential as the logistical capital of the Mediterranean, by spearheading initiatives such as the connection of European cities via a railway corridor. Although it goes beyond the Mediterranean dimension, making Barcelona a city of reference in the Jewish world is also a priority. This can be carried out by building on the important historical legacy that exists in our city, strengthening ties with the Jewish community, correcting errors made in the past and fostering business, cultural, scientific and educational relationships. A key element in this objective is the opening of a Jewish cultural centre in Barcelona with a clear historical perspective, but very much focused on current and future relationships. A leading European city Barcelona must actively work towards building a transfrontier space in the north-western Mediterranean, led by Catalonia. With our city’s economic, demographic, cultural and logistical potential, we can be ambitious in defining a network of cities to work in close collaboration in order to contribute to a territorial partnership which goes beyond political boundaries. What in the past has often been done in opposition to Catalonia, must now take place in the context of the country’s strategy. Moreover, as I shall outline below, Barcelona must work on a regular basis with the major European cities. Our city has been recognized in Europe as a model of innovation. Last July Mayor Trias was invited to participate in the European Commission’s high level working group on ‘Smart Cities’. This recognition is in sharp contrast with Barcelona’s exclusion from the Committee of the Regions, the result of a pact between the PP and the PSOE within the Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias (Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces).
  • Barcelona needs to focus its European policies on having more influence in the European Union’s programs,through being an active partner in new initiatives created by the EU to develop a new European regional policy.Cities represent both facets of the EU’s sustainable growth strategy: innovation and inclusion. Our capital hasto be well represented in the implementation of the initiatives that go ahead, while simultaneously obtainingresources for the projects which need to be undertaken. In other words, we must ensure a systematic andcoordinated use of European programs and projects and that the funding opportunities they offer are exploitedto the full.In order for this to be possible Barcelona should have a representative within Catalonia’s delegation in Brussels,to negotiate with the European institutions. In addition, to grow our influence in Europe, we need to activelyparticipate in the networks of European cities and activate new networks with sectorial objectives, such asinfrastructure, tourism and innovation.Barcelona, the diplomatic capitalMaximising the capital of Catalonia’s potential to attract the headquarters of international organisationsrequires close cooperation with the Generalitat (the Catalan government), in order to define a joint strategy toattract this type of organisations.The aim is not to attract all manner of organisations, but only those which work in areas that may be of interest toour city and our country. All of the work done to consolidate the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterraneanand to attract new headquarters related to Mediterranean projects and interests, or the recent successful bid tohost the UN Water Working Group are two examples of how to proceed.The historic grounds of the Hospital de Sant Pau represent an asset as a diplomatic hub of the Mediterraneanand the headquarters of the United Nations’ institutions and organisations. It thereby adds to Barcelona’sstrengths as a diplomatic capital.As part of this objective, it is essential to optimize the city’s use of these institutions (contracts, consultancy,recruitment, the academic world). Ensuring that Barcelona is chosen as home to the headquarters of theITER council secretariat, currently the biggest civil research project in the world, is a challenge in which ourbusinesses, universities and scientists ought to participate. It is not only of measurable benefit to us, it alsoshows our potential to meet expectations.Being a diplomatic capital involves responding to certain expectations. It is necessary to ensure the correctprotocol is followed and meet the logistical needs of diplomatic/consular/international personnel, by defininga program and a system for attending this collective, who in turn become ‘ambassadors’ for the city andthe country as a whole. Finally we need to ensure that Barcelona is not excluded from state visits. Foreigndignitaries visiting the Spanish State need to learn about Barcelona’s enormous potential and not simply theusual stereotypes.Barcelona in the worldBarcelona’s role as the Mediterranean capital and its strategic position within the European Union take on itsfull meaning and potential when it is active on a global scale. The recent trip to China was built upon the viewthat our city is Asia’s gateway to southern Europe.Ensuring Barcelona’s global presence means activating a collection of partnership agreements with citiesaround the world which share our interests, from Asia to the United States. We also need to ensure our city’scontinued presence in strategic locations, beginning with Brussels, in coordination with Catalan representationas a whole.It also involves the commitment and involvement of the city’s highest representative, its mayor, through themdefining their own agenda of council visits, aside from commitments arising from the membership of networks,bilateral agreements or international organisations. Barcelona and its mayor should have their own agendawhich also needs to be applied through innovative methodology that puts more emphasis on monitoring andachieving results.Finally, the leadership of our city should be built on some of the major debates that define the beginning of thetwenty-first century. Significant steps have been taken with regard to ‘Smart Cities’, recognized by Europeaninstitutions themselves and the project of creating a global partnership to establish international standards asto what constitutes an intelligent city.The ability to innovate, to be proactive, is the key to attracting major international events such as the MobileWorld Congress and becoming the capital of the mobile industry. It is a major challenge for our city to ensurethe benefits of these events spread beyond their immediate impact.The global nature of our city also calls for a decentralized development aid model. The wording of the CooperationMaster Plan is an opportunity to define a new model that allows us to work directly with certain cities, whilealso supporting our actions in NGOs and in activating new participants, especially in the economic world.Joaquim Llimona is president of the Fundació PIMEC, the foremost business organisation in Cataloniathat represents small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletterGoing International issue #11 december 2012 OUR CULTURE, OUR HISTORY Josep Carreras “The idea of a free Catalonia was once a utopia and now it’s a dream that could well come true” Eva Piquer - Catalan International View · Issue 13 · Autumn 2012 The tenor Josep Carreras (Barcelona, 1946) never stops saying that he feels extremely fortunate for many reasons: he was born with a vocation and he’s been able to dedicate himself to it; he has performed at the most prestigious opera houses in the world, receiving all manner of awards and accolades; and his battle to overcome leukaemia at the peak of his career led to a new personal challenge: the fight against the disease. The Josep Carreras Foundation, founded in 1988, aims to find a cure for leukaemia in the not-too-distant future. ‘It is my greatest dream, the ultimate challenge’, he says. He is convinced that he will live to see it. We are in the middle of an economic crisis and we don’t know how or when it will end. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? I am a member of the public like anyone else, and my view is like most people’s. I don’t feel very optimistic, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. We hope that at one time or another, sooner rather than later, all these problems that affect society will be solved. It looks like the international community has begun to realize that in the Spanish state things haven’t exactly been done in a perfect way. That’s why the crisis has had such an impact. And how do you see the future for Catalonia? I’m very hopeful. It’ll be tough and it’ll be difficult, but we Catalans have an entrepreneurial spirit and one great virtue: we believe in mankind, in the human capacity to act, to create and to achieve goals. We don’t need any help: as long as they don’t try and stop us we’ll manage. Obviously if they do put obstacles in our way it might prevent us from realising our potential. Have you become more of a nationalist over the years? I respect all the available options and beliefs, but I’m a nationalist (or pro-independence, if you prefer). I have been all my life, it comes from my family. These things depend heavily on what your parents and grandparents teach you, and in my home we have always had this way of thinking and this great dream. Basically, the idea of seeing a free Catalonia is a dream. Once it was a utopia and now it is a dream that could well come true. Will we live to see Catalan independence? My grandchildren will, yes. When you are abroad do you introduce yourself as Catalan or Spanish? As a Catalan. I always perform with a senyera [the Catalan flag] on my lapel. Do you find yourself having to explain what Catalonia is all about, acting like an ambassador? Not often, it hasn’t been necessary. When I go abroad, people generally know about Catalonia. And I don’t just mean the people who go to the opera, who supposedly have a certain cultural level, although it’s not always the case. I mean hotel porters, chauffeurs, taxi drivers, waiters... they are the kind of people I really enjoy chatting to, when I want to find out about the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the countries I visit. People really know about Catalonia? Maybe you have to mention Barcelona so people can picture it on a map... Barcelona helps a lot, yes. ... and Barça [Barcelona FC]. And Barça, of course. The Olympics served to put Barcelona on the international map. Before maybe a lot of people knew that Barcelona was a Mediterranean city, but they were unaware of what this city really meant and still means. Nowadays the vast majority of people in the Western world know that Catalonia is within Spain but that it has the desire to become independent. They know we have our own language, our culture, our roots and our own identity. You have publicly defended the idea of Catalonia having its own sports teams. That’s because I hope I live to see it. We should have them long before my grandchildren are grown up. You’re 65 years old, retirement age. Are you happy with what you’ve done? It may seem arrogant to say ‘yes’, but it might seem ungrateful to say ‘no’. I’m very satisfied, although I could have done some things differently or better. I believe in hard work, in discipline, and these elements have been present throughout my professional life. How does an opera star manage to believe they’re not some kind of a god, that they stay in touch with reality…? I’m the romantic hero for the three hours the opera lasts. When I hang up my cape and sword in the dressing room and I drive back to the hotel, I go back to being an ordinary man. I don’t take the character home with me after the performance. Whether you can adapt to success or not very much depends on the family you grew
  • up in, and the values they instilled in you. The kind of success an opera singer achieves doesn’t come overnightand it isn’t short-lived. You go up one step at a time, and if you’re lucky enough to reach a certain level, you staythere. So in my case, success is easier to accept.You’re the son of a policeman and a hairdresser. Do humble beginnings mark one for life? Doesstarting from the bottom make you appreciate everything you achieve?My background has neither hurt nor helped me. What counts most is personal effort, regardless of theenvironment in which you’re born. I grew up in a proud, contented and happy family. I’ve never thought, ‘Oh,if only I’d been born into a different environment!’. I was born in the immediate post-war period and I neverhad any hang ups about being born into a poor family during the Franco dictatorship. Nor do I boast about it:it’s just the way things are. It’s my normality. Being born into a lower middle class family is also statisticallymuch more normal than being born into a rich family.Will you feel bad if your children or grandchildren don’t do as well as you have?It all depends on what they want. The fact that society has changed so much in a few years doesn’t mean thatthe importance of individual effort has been lost. My children and grandchildren will be whatever they striveto be. My duty as a father has been to give them the opportunity to develop their skills in the fields they havechosen.But perhaps now with the economic upheaval, individual effort may not be enough.Unfortunately, you’re right. As much as we believe in the culture of effort and knowledge, it’s all gone terriblywrong, when you see how certain things were done badly, ending in the mess we’re currently in. Catalanpoliticians may have certain flaws but at least they have their dignity and are better prepared than certainSpanish politicians from the PP [Partido Popular or People’s Party]. I respect the PP’s supporters, but themediocrity of some of their leaders is apparent. It’s not that they’ve brought us to the brink; it’s that we’vealready sunk. We’re in Atlantis! The worst is that we’ve sunk and they would have us believe that we haven’t.Let’s hope that Romney doesn’t win the American elections, because everything will be slower and trickier...fingers crossed!You were very young when you made your debut at the Liceu [the Barcelona opera house]. Doyou remember how it went...?I sang from a very early age. When I was eight or nine I appeared on a charity program on the radio, aroundChristmas time, and I sang a couple of pieces. A short time later I got a call from the Liceu. It turned out theywere preparing a production of Manuel de Falla’s El Retaule de Maese Pedro and they thought I could play thepart of the narrator. My parents agreed because the Liceu was a big opportunity. I prepared myself well, we didit and that’s how it all began.Being born with such a clear vocation is a good thing, isn’t it?It’s a real luxury. Doing a job you love, that fulfils you, is a great luxury in life.I suppose your voice isn’t what it once was. Is it difficult to accept that your abilities are declining?One’s voice is a reflection of who we are as a person. The instrument grows with us, and time passes for theinstrument in the same way that it does for us. Obviously I’d love to sing André Chénier today and Carmentomorrow, but an artist has to be sufficiently sensitive and intelligent to understand their limitations. And ifwithin these limitations you can continue doing what interests you most, which is to convey emotions, andpeople accept you that way, you can’t ask for anything more. I’d be my own worst enemy if I tried to sing thesame repertoire as 25 years ago.Will you retire, or would you prefer to die on stage?I know that sooner or later I’ll have to retire. I realize my professional demise will arrive sooner rather thanlater, but it’ll be hard to find the right moment. But every day I become more selfish, the more I see the end ofmy career approaching, the more I realize how important it is for me, how much I enjoy it, and what it meansto get up on stage. It will be hard to find the right time to retire, to say goodbye to the stage, but I hope and trustthat myself and the people who surround me will know when to choose the right moment.Have leukaemia and your fight against it made you a better person?Leukaemia has made me more mature. I’m more forgiving, I’m more open to dialogue. It hasn’t made me abetter person, but it has probably made me more reflective, made me change my priorities, made me learn toappreciate everything to the right degree.What should you be grateful to leukaemia for?It showed me that I have a wonderful family, extraordinary friends and the unconditional support of all theanonymous people who wanted to be by my side in difficult times. It sounds a little presumptuous, but thethousands of letters and messages I received during the disease were a special gift. I sincerely believe that theywere one of the reasons I wanted to fight.The whole country was involved in your recovery. Every Catalan had the feeling they had toattend your comeback concert at the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona.It was amazing, amazing. Aside from the debt I have with the medical and scientific community, I have a debtto the people. That’s why I created the foundation. I felt that the best way to pay back society for part of whatI had received was by creating an organisation that fights against the disease that I had suffered from. It’sanother thing that I am grateful to leukaemia for: that it gave me the opportunity to try to help those who needit with my small contribution, and this is a special gift for a human being. Every day the foundation gives mework and things to worry about, but the reward of seeing what we have achieved over the years is wonderful.Seeing a kid that nearly died three months ago go back to school, and that we have contributed in some way,this is priceless, you can’t compare it with anything.Is the economic crisis affecting medical research?We have created a research centre that investigates leukaemia which aims to be one of the best. Currently it’sbased in two places: at Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, where research has been going on for months, and anotherin a new building under construction in Badalona, part of Hospital Trias i Pujol. It is a half private, half publicventure, with the participation of the Josep Carreras Foundation and the Generalitat of Catalonia: we areresponsible for constructing the building and equipping the centre, which will initially be about 7,000 squaremeters, and we hope that soon there will be between 50 and 60 researchers working there every day to improve
  • the lot of leukaemia patients. I really like the fact that it is a joint private and public initiative, and I’d also liketo say that from the moment we launched the project, both the previous Catalan government and the currentone have given us a great deal of support. This isn’t the best moment to start a project of this kind, but theadministration is sticking to the commitments it made. For a country to move forward, research should comeas a top priority, immediately behind education and health.In an interview for an earlier edition of the Catalan International View, the biologist AnnaVeiga said: ‘if we don’t protect biomedical research from the crisis we’ll miss out on the future’.That’s very true.Culture is also an asset which needs to be protected.Of course. Culture is crucial, it helps us to live better.What debt do you owe to music?Being able to develop my vocation, being able to express myself. The most important thing for an artist inwhatever field it may be (music, visual arts, literature...) is being able to express themselves through a picture,a book, a song, a symphony or an opera. Music has given me the chance to get up on stage and try to conveyemotions and feelings. This is the best thing that can happen to an artist. If these feelings and emotions reachenough people to allow you to be placed in a certain league within your profession, it’s fantastic. I am a very,very lucky and privileged man. Extremely lucky.Should an artist be socially committed?There’s no obligation. The obligation is determined by how things develop. In my case it was due to a personalexperience. Or when you become aware thanks to something that happens very close to you. Artists are sensitivepeople and we care about social problems.And politically?Politically, the artist has an obligation to be truthful, of not concealing anything, although sometimes it’sdifficult. There are artists who reach political compromises out of expediency, to ensure their professionalsurvival and that’s wrong. An artist should be honest with themselves, rather than saying what is politicallyexpedient. To express what we feel we must be honest. And if you say things the right way, we can respecteveryone’s point of view, everyone’s ideals, everyone’s beliefs.Do you still have dreams left to fulfil?Personally, I’d like my children and my four grandchildren to be as happy as possible. This is a very commondream, but it’s also very genuine. I love being a grandfather; I spend a lot of time with my grandchildren,maybe because I have happy memories of my own grandfather, who taught me such a lot. In the professionalrealm, there are always challenges ahead. In a couple of days I’m going to Vienna to hear the first act of anopera that’s being composed: it’s set during the Spanish Civil War, and I’m interested from both the musicaland the drammatic point of view. As I said, I’m very lucky. I’ve managed to do everything that I wanted to doat the professional level. For better or for worse, the others will have to judge me. And my great dream, thebiggest challenge, is leukaemia. That one day leukaemia will be curable for everyone, that it is eradicated as adeadly disease. If the cure for leukaemia was found tomorrow I’d find another objective to dedicate myself tofor the remainder of my life.Perhaps it won’t happen tomorrow, but a cure for leukaemia will be found in the near future,won’t it?I really hope so. I’m a complete layman, I know nothing about medicine, but it seems as if in five, eight, ten orfifteen years I’ll be able to see that dream fulfilled. Remember that forty years ago they thought leukaemia wasa terminal disease, while today we win the battle with 80% of children and adolescents, and 50% of adults.You were told you had a 30% chance of survivalThat’s right, but later I found out that I had less: just 10%.You went to Seattle. Nowadays it isn’t necessary to go to the United States for treatment.It’s great: today the same therapy, the same treatment and the same protocols are carried out here. I went toSeattle on the advice of a medical team, for both personal and clinical reasons. It was partly because I was underterrible pressure: there were people who came into the room with a white coat on and a hidden camera. Youknow what some journalists are capable of. At that time Hospital Clínic were doing bone marrow transplants,but only fifteen or twenty a year. In Seattle they did fifty every week. I had what’s called an autologous transplant:they removed my bone marrow, they treated it, removing the leukaemia, and they injected it back into me again.At that time there was a molecule that was extremely important because it’s what cured me, but it couldn’t beused here in treatment, it wasn’t licensed. I think I was the second patient to receive it. I’m really pleased thatnowadays a treatment they use in Seattle, Houston, England, Germany or any other highly developed countryis used here too with the same efficacy and the same guarantees. Both in Catalonia and the rest of Spain.How healthy is music in Catalonia?It’s not bad. In Barcelona, there has always been enthusiasm for the opera, we have had the good fortune tohave a theatre like the Liceu. But aside from opera, we have a good level of both symphony music and classicalmusic. El Palau de la Música and l’Auditori are almost always full. In recent years we’ve taken a big stepforward in the world of music in our country.Does musical education get the attention it deserves?For me it’s never enough, but compared to when I studied we’ve come a long way. When I was at high school,the word Mozart didn’t even appear in the textbooks. However, when you go to countries like Austria you envythe level of education and musical training they get.Why is it so hard to find good tenors?Because it’s not just about the voice, the instrument alone isn’t enough. The composer Pietro Mascagni said,‘To sing you must also have a voice’. There are a number of factors that go far beyond one’s voice: talent, one’sdegree of musicality, stage presence, charisma... If you have all this and you also have the voice, then you arePlácido Domingo.
  • The Three Tenors, with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti must have been a greatexperience.It was marvellous, we became great friends.Is it another thing you have to thank leukaemia for...?Yes, because it was a way of celebrating the fact that I was returning to the stage. My colleagues were excitedand eager to participate from the outset. At first we were only going to do one concert, in Rome in 1990, duringthe football championship. We did the second concert in Los Angeles four years later, also with football as anexcuse. And that’s when the tour was born. From 1990 to 2004 we did thirty-two concerts in total, so it wasn’tthat many. Thirty-two concerts and four CDs.Has believing in God helped you to carry on?Apart from very religious people, the majority of humans are very opportunistic, we only think of God whenwe’re in trouble. One approaches faith and God when one is desperate, when one sees that perhaps it’s the onlyoption. It’s a natural reaction. When I was diagnosed with leukaemia, I became more of a believer, I have toadmit. Before that, everything was wine and roses and I didn’t give it a second thought. I do believe in a forcethat is greater than us, but nobody has yet convinced me of the existence of a just God. I don’t know to whatpoint this higher strength is only positive. All the things that happen wouldn’t happen if there was a just God.A four-month old baby wouldn’t get leukaemia. They say it’s a test to make us stronger, but I don’t buy it.Whether there is a God or not, music helps you to achieve transcendence...Of course. If it happens when you listen to music, imagine what it’s like when you’re on stage singing Verdi.Music is extraordinarily transcendent. That’s why I consider myself an extremely lucky man. It’s been a privilegeto be able to experience it all in person.Interview by Eva PiquerPhotos provided by Josep Carreras Foundation