Celebrating diversity, citizenship and Europe with Fundació Josep Irla
Center Maurits Copieters, together with its member Fundació Josep Irla, celebrated their annual event on Friday, November 24, with the theme: “Diversity, citizenship and European project”. The idea was to examine how immigration, integration, nation-building, citizenship and Europe are interlinked.
Joan Manuel Tresserras, President of Fundació Josep Irla, reflected on how forces of globalization are reshaping the state and the nation, while Antonia Luciani, Vice-President of the Center Maurits Coppieters addressed how various recent challenges in areas like migration, security and human rights have eroded the European project, because the insitutions themselves have failed to act. “The success of the European project lies in its ability to respect diversity; to make a Europe of the peoples rather than a Europe of states. We can not talk about a successful European project without talking about integration as well,” said Luciani.
Are we only Europeans?
Peter A. Kraus, Professor of Political Science at the University of Augsburg, addressed the question: what defines us as Europeans? He explained that the European Union has sought to create a top-down identity, while a massive push for European identity did not exist among its citizens. “Very few individuals identify only as European,” he added. For Kraus, some societies have become more diverse because they have embraced new identities and influences, becoming multidimensional and fluid. This is what he defines as complex diversity.
Immigration and independence
The event also launched the study “Immigration and Independence”, carried out by by Núria Franco-Guillén, postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Governance and Public Policy at the University of Griffith on the cases of Quebec, Scotland and Catalonia. The study looks at the challenges and opportunities of integrating newcomers into multi-lingual and multi-cultural settings, as well as sovereigntist processes in stateless nations.
By comparing the concepts of immigration and stateless nations with theoretical and sociopolitical implications that this link creates, Franco-Guillén concludes that national movements in stateless nations do not express themselves in exclusionary terms. Instead, political elites of Quebec, Scotland and Catalonia deploy rather open positions towards immigration, both in terms of public speeches and policies. “The attitude towards immigration in countries such as Quebec, Scotland or Catalonia demonstrates that national movements are inevitably ethnic,” said Núria Franco-Guillén.
New alliance for integration
In conversation with Oriol Amorós, Secretary of Equality, Migrations and Citizenship of the Catalan Government, and Catherine Xhardez, a researcher at the Center for International Recherches of Paris, experts emphasized the need to understand immigration as relating to international and European agreements, and integration as a process that takes place in proximity to where people live, such as cities or towns.
Firstly, new alliances should be built between regions and cities, which can better manage this process. Secondly, integration policies are too focused on the first months of arrival, while we should also focus on anti-discrimination and labor policies.
While there is no European immigration model, a part of migration policy must be managed from below, because it involves the daily coexistence between people. “Stateless nations can lead this process and counteract restrictive state policies,” Franco-Guillén further explained.
Amorós reminded the audience that the most uncomfortable part about immigration has to do with Europe’s involvement in armed conflicts that destabilize and displace communities. “Europe plays a leading role in the arms trade,” he said and called on European actors to change this.