Events, Awards and Grants

Success of the third edition of the "Europe in Blau" meeting at Calonge Castle

The meeting "Europe in Blau" organized by Europe in Blau and the City of Calonge, with the collaboration of the Fundació Catalunya Europa, among other entities, has consolidated as a reference point of Catalan Europeanism with a debate on the EU in the new world order.

The day was held on Saturday 1 July in the emblematic Castell de Calonge under the title 'The EU in the new world order' and was the first event in the civil society programme of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council.

The EU as a geopolitical player in a troubled world

The first round table focused on the role of the European Union in the new geopolitical context, marked by the war in Ukraine or the consequences of the pandemic, as well as by the influence of powers such as China or the United States.

This first debate was moderated by Pau Solanilla, a member of the European advocacy group in Blau, and included Dolors Camats, director of the Catalunya Foundation, Zhu Jingyang, Consul General of China, and Marc Guerrero, president of Ginteco Wide.

"We know that the world order we knew is in the end, we intuit possibilities for cleanliness, but also risks, and forces that struggle to be hegemonic," said the director of the Catalunya Europa Foundation, Dolors Camats, who also defended that within the framework of multilateralism, "shared values" such as those of rights and justice are "inalienable" and placed special emphasis on the defense of women’s rights.

"Open-minded people, willing to adapt to changes in the world, have no reason to be afraid of China," said the country’s Consul General, Zhu Jingyang. "The Chinese will not become Europeans, nor vice versa," warned the consul general, adding that in the framework of international relations "to demand that others live like us is total stupidity".

Ginteco World Wide President Marc Guerrero stressed that the EU must know what it wants to contribute to the world. " The future is uncertain, disruptive, unstable and convulsive," he said. "We must want to lead", warned Guerrero, who said that the European Union needs to "move from a certain idealism to a more practical and effective realism".

Speakers also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, and the role of the EU and other countries like China in trying to stop it. In this area, Guerrero lamented the invasion, which he defined as a conflict against "European values, freedom and democracy, in European territory". The Chinese consul defended his country’s policy regarding the invasion of Ukraine, stating that "it is a huge myth" to consider "China’s position to be pro-Russian". Finally, he outlined the points of China’s peace plan and said that Beijing "plays and will continue to play in the future" a "responsible power role, with reasonable arguments to propose and support the process" to achieve an end to the conflict.

Strategic autonomy of the EU

The second panel discussion focused on the concept of strategic autonomy, and included the participation of CIDOB’s senior researcher Carme Colomina, the recently appointed fourth deputy mayor of Barcelona and responsible for Economy, Finance and Economic Promotion, Jordi Valls, and the director of intelligent connectivity and the 5G Observatory of the MWCapital, Eduard Martín.

Carme Colomina remarked that the war in Ukraine has exposed the "structural vulnerabilities" of the European Union in terms of its external dependencies, ranging from health, industrial, energy or security. However, the expert from CIDOB indicated that in the effort to "reduce external dependence", there is also a growing need for interconnection, and that is why there is talk of "open strategic autonomy". "Perhaps more than a new world order, there is a new order of variable geometries," he said.

The fourth deputy mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Valls, said that Europe has a "difficulty understanding others" in the international context, and exposed the contradictions found in wanting to export European values and rights to other parts of the world, while at the same time must be configured trade relations with countries that do not necessarily share them. Valls, who until recently was the general director of Mercabarna, pointed out that Catalonia is a "food power", and "sovereignty" in this respect can be guaranteed if it works at European level. However, he warned that "food instability is social instability".

Finally, the director of intelligent connectivity and the 5G Observatory of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, Eduard Martín, referred to the digital dimension of strategic autonomy. "Europe lost prominence and leadership" in technological matters, he lamented, warning that it is not only necessary to manufacture chips, but also to create the bases to design them here. Martin highlighted Barcelona’s leadership as a digital hub, and remarked that projects like the Spanish government’s PERTE Chip can help change current trends. In his view, the EU is a benchmark in regulation, but it must be able to go further to play a decisive role in the future digital world.

Very positive balance of the meeting

The Minister of External Action and European Union, Meritxell Serret, who held the closing of the conference, stressed the importance of forums such as 'Europe in Blau' to open reflections and bring European policy closer to citizens. Serret warned that there are those who want to make "tampollar great consensuses" of the country and the European Union. "We must maintain the coherence of values and consensus," he said. "I want to thank the framework for reflection and discussion, with constructive criticism, to identify where we should go, what to correct and improve", he added, highlighting the "vocation and Europeanist will" of Catalonia.

Coinciding with the premiere of the Spanish EU Presidency, Serret also stressed that in a Europe of shared values it is necessary to "continue claiming" the recognition of the use of Catalan in European institutions. In this sense, the councilor regretted that the Government has not yet received officially by the Spanish State the program of the presidency.

One of the promoters of the conference, Joaquim Millán, celebrated that another year an "intense and high-level debate" was generated, combined with an active participation of the public. Millán has advanced that the next edition, in 2024, will focus on the results of the European elections, scheduled in June.

For his part, the mayor of Calonge, Jordi Soler, highlighted "the push" of the European day in the municipality, which he remarked has become an "extremely important" event. " Creating debate in the current European moment is crucial" because "it always enriches, puts points of view in common and allows conclusions to emerge from the controversy", added Soler.

The director of the European Parliament office in Barcelona, Sergi Barrera, and the head of communication of the European Commission Representation, Laura Rahola, also showed the support of both institutions to the conference at a key moment for the European project.

Europe in Blau, a benchmark of the European debate

The promoters of the 'Europa en Blau' day want to consolidate the Baix Empordà as an annual European space for reflection, where interested people committed to the future of the EU can meet each year to analyze, from a critical but always constructive point of view, the state of the Union and the main challenges it faces. 'Europa en Blau' aims to bring proposals to the country’s joint challenges. The day also wants to decentralise a debate that is too often concentrated in the big capitals, such as Barcelona, Brussels or Madrid.

The conference, organized by Europe in Blau and the City of Calonge, has had the support of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Girona Provincial Council, the Baix Empordà Regional Council and Direct Europe Girona.

Also collaborating in the event are the Ministry of External Action of the Generalitat, Eurolocal, Diplocat, the Foundation Catalunya Europa,, Europa Oberta, Elink.