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A failure of separatism

Barcelona loses the European Medicines Agency in the first round of voting due to political instability in the Catalan region

Spanish Health Minister Dolors Montserrat, in Brussels on Monday.
Spanish Health Minister Dolors Montserrat, in Brussels on Monday. EFE

It is a resounding defeat, and one that can only be blamed on the irresponsible attitude of the Catalan independence movement, whose challenge to Spain’s constitutional order has deprived Barcelona of the chance to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) once the latter leaves London due to Brexit.

The fact that the Catalan capital was left out of the race in the first round of voting to choose among 16 candidate cities, when it was a clear favorite on technical criteria, indicates that political considerations weighed more heavily than the candidate’s objective suitability.

The fact that the Catalan capital was left out of the race indicates that political considerations weighed more heavily than objective suitability

The political instability experienced in Catalonia in recent months was the decisive element that deprived Barcelona of the chance to make the most of a rare historical opportunity. With a €340 million budget and nearly 1,000 high-ranking employees, the agency in charge of drug approval and oversight for human and animal consumption is a major economic driver. Losing the bid makes the city of Barcelona one more victim of the secessionist process.

The discredit that comes with this loss will magnify the negative effects that the unilateral independence declaration has already had. To the 2,500 businesses that have taken their corporate headquarters out of Catalonia and the drop in tourism, we must now add the frustrated expectations of the Catalan biomedical sector, and by extension, the Spanish one. The potential accumulated by this relevant industry through years of efforts will now be hampered by the blind audacity of governing officials who did not hesitate to endanger the social harmony, the political stability and the economy of the region in the name of illegitimate goals that were also impossible to achieve.

Losing the bid makes the city of Barcelona one more victim of the secessionist process

Reality always has a way of imposing itself. Even though all three institutions involved in the bid – the Spanish government, the Catalan government and the city of Barcelona – made efforts to present a common front in Brussels, fears of future turbulence prevailed in the decision to find a new home for such an important EU institution. In the end, fear of jumping out of the Brexit pan and into the Catalan secessionist fire has weighed more heavily than other considerations.

This latest event should serve as an eye-opener for those who still believe that defying the law and the constitutional order comes at no cost. There is a price to be paid, and the separatist movement will have to answer to citizens for it.

English version by Susana Urra.

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