"These are times of many changes and yes, the values ​​of the European Union are shaky. Therefore we have difficulties. But we can fight them." This sentence of Cristina Gallach, delivered on Monday evening in the foyer of the TecnoCampus, in Mataró, could summarize the meaning of the bulk of the interventions expressed in first Valors Mataró-Europe Forum, organized by Valors and the university and technology park and with the support of Pous Grup and Aliança Mataró, held last May 13.

Gallach, a journalist who has held positions of responsibility in the EU, NATO and the UN, was one of the three participants in the round table that focused this first edition of the forum, held a few days after the Day of Europe and a month before the European elections in June.

A hundred people attended this new meeting which aims to strengthen reflection on the major issues of the European agenda and to do so from the point of view of municipalism, which are in fact the major global issues. The other two participants in the round table moderated by the journalist Carles prats they were the engineer John Major, who has advised the European Commission in different forums throughout his career, and Eduardo Javier Ruiz Vieytez, dean of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the University of Deusto (Basque Country), where he has been director of the Instituto de Derechos Humanos for fifteen years.

In a line similar to that of Gallach, Majó assured at a certain moment: "Yes, there is a moment of difficulty, but we are the part of the world with the strongest value and democratic structures". For his part, Ruiz Vieytez admitted: "We have made a lot of progress, but there is some aspect in which we are much further behind than we think." 

What values ​​does Europe currently have? 

One of the questions that flew over the room where the first edition of this annual forum was held is the persistence or not (and for what reason) of the founding values ​​of the European Union. In this sense, Joan Majó assured: "Europe is quiet because the last enlargements have brought problems: we have integrated countries with quite different values. With the enlargements, it is difficult to see how we can combine the necessary unity with respect for diversity”. 

For his part, Eduardo Javier Ruiz Veytez commented that "of the founding values ​​of the EU, some are in better health than others" and but bringing it to the current terrain, he pointed out: "I am not so convinced that we have the our values ​​as assumed as we say. We focus a lot [the dissolution of these values] on the extreme right, but I would like to know what the voters of the other parties think about it". In fact, he demanded a higher degree of coherence among citizens: "The European model has two problems: demographic and that solidarity ends at the border. We are willing to pay taxes to help the people of Cádiz who have things going badly, but not Bordeaux and even less Tangier”. 

For her part, Cristina Gallach recognized that Europe's values ​​are "every day more entrenched" and referred to the difficulties faced by European partners in responding to the two wars we are facing, the one in Ukraine and that of Gaza. "A very intense diplomatic work must be done", he replied. Before the elections that will be held in a month, Gallach drew attention to a hypothesis that has not yet materialized: "In the next legislature, we can find a college of commissioners with 6 or 7 far-right commissioners”.

Europe's role in the world and upcoming enlargements 

Joan Majó, who also takes part in the special issue on Europe published by Valors this May and which was also presented to the general public on Monday, called for a much more relevant role for the European Union in the world context: "We must unify , especially in foreign policy: we cannot go to the UN with 27 votes. There must be a European voice". For this, he called bluntly to add new members to the pan-European organization: "If we don't expand, Europe will disappear and none of the European states will paint anything in the world". He also recalled that "more people live in the EU than in the United States and it has a larger GDP, but it does not have the unity of the US". 

In relation to this, Cristina Gallach wanted to emphasize how the world has changed since the European Union was created, formally in 1993: "When Delors led the EU, the combined GDP of China and India was 4% global, now it is 26%. They are totally different worlds." And he also advocated to continue with the dynamics of the expansion to new members, despite the doubts that this may cause: "It is now 20 years since the great expansion, prepared by Jacques Delors. An expansion that has made us bigger, stronger and more diverse. Now, this is unquestionable: it is obviously more complex to manage a family of 27 than of 15”. He also warned in relation to the next enlargement, planned for 2030, which should welcome the countries of the Western Balkans that are not yet members of the EU such as Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro as well as Ukraine, Moldova and maybe Georgia: "This one will be much tougher because there is Russia" on their side. 

Presence of four former mayors and a former president of the Generalitat

Among those attending the event were the former mayors of Mataró Manuel Mas and Joan Mora, as well as the current mayor and president of the TecnoCampus, David Bote. In addition, one of the speakers was Joan Majó, who served as mayor of the Maresme capital from 1979 to 1982, so that the meeting brought together four of the five living mayors that the city has had in the 45 years of democratic restoration . In addition, the former president of the Generalitat Jordi Pujol also attended the meeting, in his capacity as a subscriber to the magazine since its inception. 

The closing of the event was carried out by the general director of the TecnoCampus, Josep Lluís Checa, who highlighted the launch of this forum as the result of the desire to create spaces for debate in which the technological and university park of the city.

Chronicle by Ramon Radó for Valors magazine.

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