The Citizen Environment in the 21st Century: A Cosmopolitan, Prosperous and Safe Barcelona
Manuel Valls and Gregorio Marañón y Beltrán de Lis
On 13 November, the Rafael del Pino Foundation organised the dialogue "The Citizen Environment in the 21st Century: A Cosmopolitan, Prosperous and Safe Barcelona", in which Manuel Valls and Gregorio Marañón y Beltrán de Lis took part.
Manuel Valls, born in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Horta (1962), son of the painter Xavier Valls and Luisa Galfetti, Manuel Valls settled in Paris with his family. His interests brought him into contact with the French Socialist Party, where he developed an education based on republicanism and socialism. In his intense and successful political career in France, he held top-level positions in all areas of the administration, proving himself to be a tenacious and committed public servant: at the municipal level, as mayor of Evry (2001-2012); and in the State Government, as Minister of the Interior (2012-2014), and at the top of the Executive, as Prime Minister (2014-2016) during the presidency of François Hollande. In 2018 he returned to Barcelona to start a new life and presented his candidacy to become the new mayor of the city and return Barcelona to the league of the great global cities.
Gregorio Marañón y Beltrán de Lis is a lawyer, businessman and academic. He was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Teatro Real (1995-1996). He rejoined in 2004, and in 2007 he was elected president of the Board of Trustees and its Executive Committee. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2018. He is a full member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters. He is also an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Sciences of Toledo, and a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Telmo. President of the Teatro de la Abadía, Honorary President of the Royal Foundation of Toledo, Founding Trustee of the Fundación Ortega-Marañón, Trustee of the National Library, and Trustee of the Toledo International Centre for Peace. Trustee of the Army Museum, the Royal Tapestry Factory and the Toledo International Centre for Peace. He is Chairman of Logista, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Universal Music España and member of the Board of Directors of Patrimonio Nacional. He holds the Grand Cross of Alfonso X the Wise, the Gold Medal for Fine Arts and the Gold Medal of Castilla-La Mancha; he is a Commander of the Order of the Stella of the Italian Republic and a Commander of the French Legion of Honour.
On 13 November 2018, a dialogue took place at the Rafael del Pino Foundation with Manuel Valls, former Prime Minister of France and Ciudadanos candidate for Mayor of Barcelona, on the occasion of the presentation of his book "Barcelona, I'm coming home". Valls indicated that he is prepared to face anything, in reference to the attempt by the CDR to block a similar event the day before in Barcelona, because, he said, when you have been head of government in France and you have experienced very difficult times in that position, you are prepared for anything. So the CDR is not going to stop anything, neither Valls nor Ciudadanos. In Barcelona, he said, there are people who have been living these situations of harassment for much longer than he has, and this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that some people try to prevent a political debate, or the presentation of a book. That is fascism. People must have the freedom to express their opinions, even pro-independence people. But to think that it is normal to deny freedom of expression to non-independence supporters is a danger to democracy. The experience he had with the terrorist attacks in France taught him that what is most important is to defend European values, that is, freedom and democracy, which are threatened by the lack of a European project, by populism and nationalism. What is happening in Barcelona, in this sense, is transcendent because Barcelona is a European city, a city of values. What will be at stake there in a few months' time is the fate of Catalonia, of Spain and of Europe. If we win, he said, it will be the best response to populism. With regard to French President Emmanuel Macron, Valls indicated that he does not have the same political culture as him because Valls was a member of a political party, the socialist party, and he could not have the feeling that he was betraying him by accepting a government appointment from Macron. He also said that there is a lack of a sense of state to solve the country's problems, although he acknowledged that the situation in France is difficult because the populists plus the far left won 50% of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections, as a result of unemployment and the economic and social effects of the crisis. In his opinion, in society there is always, and always will be, a debate between the right and the left. However, the great debate is really going to be between what Europe represents as an area of peace, prosperity and respect for people, as opposed to populism and nationalism. This is what Macron is doing with his proposals to relaunch and strengthen European integration. In doing so, we can contribute to saving the European project. For this reason, he wondered where Catalan civil society was when the pro-independence supporters told Inés Arrimadas to go back to Andalusia. In his opinion, those who perpetrate this type of act do not know what they are provoking in society, because these acts herald very hard times. The same is happening in Europe and the United States with the rise of anti-Semitism. Valls acknowledged that he was a social democrat, which is why he is concerned, because the crisis of social democracy is part of the crisis in Europe. From his perspective, respect for the individual is fundamental, because without it and without democracy, nothing is possible. When social democracy has governed, part of the left has always accused it of being a traitor, whether in Willy Brandt's Germany, Felipe González's Spain or Michel Rocard's France, but in politics, compromises must always be sought. Moreover, social democracy is freedom and, in Valls' opinion, it won the fight against communism precisely because it lost a part of itself in the search for compromise. A politician also has to solve problems. With regard to companies, Valls pointed out that without them, there is no economy, no employment, no taxes and no redistribution of wealth. That is why we need companies, especially small and medium-sized ones. In this sense, the worst thing about populism is that it is always looking for enemies because it is easy: there is always someone responsible for the problems that one is unable to solve. And for populism, business is part of the enemy. It is true that business does not always act as it should. Indeed, we are still paying dearly for the consequences of the crisis created by financial institutions. Still, we need business as part of the social contract. That is why he will always defend the market economy, just as he will defend education reform, because the world cannot be ruled by people who appoint enemies. We have to get out of the trenches. Also in Barcelona. We also need talent in everything we do as a society, which leads to the emergence of elites. But when a party's main discourse is to criticise these elites, it wants to destroy democracy. For Valls, culture is an important engine of transformation because culture unites, it is a very important axis of integration, of inclusion. Culture does not have to divide, as is the intention in Spain today. In this sense, Valls indicated that, today, Barcelona is losing not only economically, but also culturally. Barcelona, therefore, must be committed to an open culture, to Spanish and Catalan, to always being an open city, because Barcelona's strength lies in its Catalan identity and its Spanish identity. Finally, Valls called for a return to optimism about the future of Europe. It is not easy, because the world has changed. That is why we need a more powerful European project, but with more integrated economic policies. In this project, Spain would have to increase its weight in Europe, and Africa would have to be made Europe's priority, because that is where illegal immigrants come from, and there will be many more of them in the future due to the strong growth of the African population.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.