A Second Opinion: Beyond the Pyrenees

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The Spanish side (Navarre) of the Pyrenees


By Mary Foran

Hundred-peseta coin, a.k.a. venite duros

Perhaps Brexit (the exit of Britain from the European Union) has started a trend that may spread to other countries like Spain. “España-afuera” might become as popular a chant as “Brexit” among some of the populace. I have often wondered about the peseta vs. the Euro, and the handiness of the old “duro”(the old five-peseta piece) and wondered how happy Spaniards are with the relatively “new” money.

The uniqueness of Spain is legendary and historic. Somehow I always felt that “Europe” began at the Pyrenees, leaving Spain as a magic island of cultural heritage. There are so many varied provinces within Spain itself that the character of Spain is already multicultural and a patchwork quilt of people. From Galicia in the Northwest to Valencia in the Southeast, from Cantabria in the North to Málaga in the South, Spain is one of a kind.

Corpus Christi solemn procession in the municipality of Javali Viejo, Murcia: Do Spanish people feel “European”?

Do Spaniards feel “European”? Or do they feel “Spanish”? Or, for that matter, do they feel “del pueblo”? As the saying goes: “Feelings have a life of their own”!

Spain has so much to be proud of, and not just its luxurious string of Paradors that wow tourists from around the world. It seems to me that Brussels has no idea what the Spanish people want and need, and the politicians elected to go there get lost in the European shuffle.

What, I ask, has the EU really done to improve the life of the average Spaniard except complicate the panorama a bit more? Inflation doesn’t count! Well, perhaps there has been a forward-looking push from up North that has subtlely changed the traditional Spanish attitude of xenophobia. Perhaps some modernization has occurred and the economy is more robust than before. Perhaps imports and exports of goods and people are freer and more fluid.

Aerial view of the Eiuropean Quarter where Brussels-based EU institutions — Euiropean Parliament, Council, Commission — are located

But Madrid is not Paris, and Barcelona is not Berlin, and Rome will always be Rome.

If the British can say “no” to the Continent then others may follow suit and for their own reasons challenge Belgium’s leadership. Since the UK is still debating the issue and the situation is still in flux, Europe has to come up with some good reasons for member states to stick with it and really carry on with their common market.

In America, Europe is trés París, not necessarily Madrid, Spain. With so much to offer, it’s amazing that so many have yet to discover its beauty and idiosyncrasies!




Featured image/IñakiLL, CC BY-SA4.0
Peseta/Srg!o, PD
Corpus Christi procession/Lugarejo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA4.0
European Quater/Zinneke, CC BY-SA3.0