Photo courtesy of the European Commission.
As in previous crises, the Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the lack of economic “punch” that we have in Spain. Here, our commitment to tourism means that if we do not reverse it soon, that we remain at the mercy of the so-called frugal countries…
Just to confirm, we are neither lazy nor subsidised. If we are in the European Union, it is in order to both help and, to be helped. With the previous crisis, we saw the most conservative wing of our country cutting back again and again on rights and social improvements. From the old continent, they asked for men in black and we did it: less public health, worse education and a crippling cut to basic services.
Now we are facing a new crisis, and this time its global. Europe seems to have learned its lesson, that helping a country does not mean doing so only on the economic side. Along with the millions of euros must come education. There is no point in our having obtained a juicy slice of the Coronavirus rescue fund for Spain in these negotiations, if in subsequent negotiations and in the post-crisis period, (which will follow) we do not have a strong European public opinion to put pressure on its politicians to help us.
This is how this European Union works. It is the voice and the democratic instrument of each of the countries that make it up. If the democracies of these countries are sick and overrun by extremism, we will not strengthen the continental union for which so many have fought – and which now seems doomed to fail.
We run the risk of provoking more “Brexits” if we do not have a firm commitment to truthful information. We must ask ourselves what has happened in Britain to make half the population unhappy with the way the Union is run? We could also think about what happened to the Greek left to become so dissatisfied with a project they previously applauded. In the end, the union of the peoples can either remain a reluctant obligation, or be what it claims…
At the last summit for an economic reactivation fund after the crisis of Covid-19 we saw two very different sides. The northern countries, led by the Netherlands, which wanted each country to emerge from the crisis with its own resources, and the southern countries, which sought a joint economic response. Certainly, the countries that have been most affected by this pandemic are those of the south.
However, they may take comfort in the possibility that soon the effects, like dominoes, will reach everyone – and we could well experience a crisis of proportions never seen since the end of the Second World War.
A Strong Community is Key
We are riding into a globalised world where the spheres of power are further away from the citizens. The fact that the decision-making centres are moving further and further away from the ordinary citizen is very bad news, which is why we need the independence that small groups such as municipalities or regions provide. In turn, these groupings, if they are to be called such, must be heard at every end of Europe.
The reverberations of the clamour of the Andalusian countryside must not reach the European Parliament; they must be heard loud and clear and taken into account. Just as every corner of Scandinavia or Italian Tuscany must be weighed up. The response of Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, is simply not adequate.
Spain and other countries around us cannot manage this alone. We need the help of the community. This statement gains weight when, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics, our country received 83 million visitors in 2019. This stratospheric figure speaks for itself of what tourism means in a country of 47 million inhabitants…
Now, the ball is in our court. We must know how to invest that money. The Spanish government seems to have made a firm commitment to social aid with the ERTE. This aid means an influx of capital for companies and workers who have been forced to stop their economic activity.
Bread Today, Hunger Tomorrow…
Helping our tourism sector must be one of our priorities, as must changing our country’s economic model and focusing more on industry. We cannot leave behind so many families who live off the visits of foreigners. Waiters, guides, hotels… the list is endless and it certainly is because our country deserves it.
However, with this money for reconstruction after this disaster that the Covid-19 has caused, we cannot continue to depend on tourists, it is our duty to make a transition towards new ways of enriching ourselves and making our country grow like renewable energies, always with a view to the social benefits that these can bring.