Monday, May 29, 2023
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Peru Erroteta

​Treacherous backstabbing


The flight of companies as a result of the independence adventure of Catalonian nationalism, has been for Barcelona a "treacherous backstabbing" because, as the expression itself says, it has been committed with a sudden and unexpected betrayal.


Most of the 2,745 companies that, as of September 26th, have moved their headquarters from Catalonia to other parts of Spain (among them the largest and most significant, such as La Caixa, Banco de Sabadell, Repsol or Gas Natural) had their headquarters in Barcelona. Consequently, the economic impact will be particularly negative for the city, not only in the form of tax and fee income that will be not be collected but, above all, by the reduction in jobs, in many cases highly qualified ones, and ultimately, due to the loss of competitiveness as a global metropolis.

This issue was not instigated today. Long before the beginning of the "Procés", Jordi Pujol's regime tried everything to cut, mediate and constrict the great Barcelona because, in their opinion, it competed with autonomous Catalonia and, above all, because it sheltered "the other Catalans" and the eternal enemy, the Left. Apparently, explaining the territory to some visitors in a helicopter, when approaching the Prat Airport, Pujol said "and the Barcelona metropolitan area crap starts here ".

Like all large cities, Barcelona is not delimited by its old walled enclosure, the space created by its successive extensions, and not even by what the administratively established municipal boundaries are. 

Almost three and a half million people live in this area, and it houses a powerful industrial, commercial and service fabric. It is, beyond bureaucratic borders, short-sightedness and parochial interests, a global metropolis. And as such, it is called upon to compete and collaborate in the international metropolis network.

The metropolis strives to attract value-added activities into their spaces, they specialize, they offer incentives... always on a global scale. Their referents are not in the neighbouring territories, but rather planet-wide. They are interested in what happens in other metropolises, they talk to the rest of the world much more than what geographically surrounds them. The British geographer Peter Hall used the term "world cities" to refer to large cities with significant socio-economic world relations with respect to politics, economy, culture and art. "And that, in short, also means Barcelona.


John Friedmann considers World Cities as main financial centres with headquarters of transnational corporations, with international institutions, with a rapid increase in the sector of services to producers, as an major production centres, as main hubs of transport, to which is added the criterion of the number of inhabitants.

Key cities use global capital as a base. In short, Friedmann spoke of the global control functions of world cities that are reflected in the structure and dynamics of their production and employment sectors.

The great "but" to its global nature, to the interest and vocation of Barcelona as a global city, is Catalonia, conceived such as nationalism does. This is, as merely the capital of the country. 

This vision, which corresponds to past times, hinders Barcelona's potential, distracts it from its objectives, removes it to areas that are not theirs, such as identity. The territory at large fears and envies, as happened to the Turkmen tribes with Byzantium, the city. This atavistic contradiction, already dismissed by most current metropolises, not only continues to work in the case of Barcelona, but also has been aggravated with the independence movement, and the "Procés" (meaning the independence movement) is crossing no-go lines.

The Barcelona of international proclivity, open, cosmopolitan, is being gobbled up by the nationalist narrative, by preaching which is at odds with reality, by an ideological and political construction that suffocates it. Barcelona is being incited to participate more in the AMI (Association of Municipalities for Independence), and to position itself with some possibility of success in the competition to host the European Medicines Agency. Barcelona is being obsessively insisted on to declare itself in each and every one of the independence movement occurrences. Barcelona is not being considered a place where its future inhabitants can find a good employment, economic and welfare situation, but rather as just one piece of the sovereignty puzzle.

Moreover, the Barcelona's current leaders, instead of tackling this pernicious tendency tooth and nail, which is reducing the city to a mere beach-and-sun tourist resort, is being swept away by the current or is not able to brace itself against it. Instead of putting placards to support the candidacy to the medicines agency, the balconies of the city council display appeals for "freedom for political prisoners". Instead of establishing visible alliances with the mayors of London and Paris, for example, it acts like a political zombie, dragged by nationalism.


And so on until we get to catastrophes such as the stampede of companies. This is not trivial considering that in Montreal, 40,000 highly qualified jobs were lost, with a relocation of companies three times less numerous than here. Therefore, contrary to what Oriol Junqueras has said, moving the tax administration office brings with it the change of location of management units. and according to the experts, this always ends up taking with it part of the operations and, in many occasions, it usually stops investments in the territory that has been abandoned.

The transfer of fiscal residence proves that the decisions to leave take on something of an irreversible nature. In fact, many companies that have left have done nothing but take advantage of the circumstances to concrete something that they were already thinking about. 

In the end, the unilateral declaration of independence has been the red carpet for companies that have a large part of their market outside of Catalonia, operate globally and that tend to set up their headquarters wherever it best suits them.

The roots, the knowledge of the land and other links made some of these companies continue in Barcelona. By putting that framework at risk, with all the dangers involved, including being outside of the EU, they have chosen to get away for all of this. Ask the Basques about the effort it took them to secure the headquarters of companies such as Iberdrola or BBVA in their territories.

Therefore, now that federalism is beginning to come out of the closet, one of its first introspections that Catalonia should have about itself, is the unbalanced environment wherever there exist. Subjected to a new autonomic centralism, with serious spatial, environmental, social and political problems, Catalonia cries out for a new adaptation, in which Barcelona and its metropolitan area would need to have a special status, not just formal, but also as above all orientated to promote its role as a global city, facilitating dialogue with the world rather than reducing it as it, as has been done indiscriminately by the Catalonian territory. The thing is that, on the contrary, this would end up greatly benefitin



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