Can the EU protect our fundamental rights?

This is a translation of an article I wrote for the Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “La UE pot protegir els nostres drets fonamentals?“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

Two and a half years ago, we Britons voted in the Brexit referendum.

As a democrat, I had always wanted to have the opportunity to vote, the opportunity to decide on our relationship with the European Union. But when this opportunity arrived, I did not know how to vote.

The European Union represents a great co-operation between countries, an economic power in which 28 nations can fight together for their interests, their economies, etc. For its citizens, the possibility of travelling and working in any European country is a right which makes the world – or, at least, the countries of this union – a little smaller and more open. Despite the mottoes of the far-right, were are all one race and we should be brothers and friends. We should live and work together.

At heart, I am a democrat. I believe in the sovereignty of national and regional parliaments. I believe, above all, in democracy. If the European Union wants to represent Europeans, before anything else it has to defend democracy and human rights. It has to defend these parliaments and rights with all of the strength which the member states give it. But it does not.

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#CC18: 1 Day to Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve and once again the big day has approached faster than an easyJet flight leaving Gatwick Airport on Saturday morning. (What, too soon?)

A common theme through the Countdown to Christmas of previous years (with some exceptions) is that I mark my last day of work before the festive break with a suitably-themed video, and Christmas Eve with a Santa-themed video.

Today, however, is also my last day of work, although having successfully completed the last of my wrapping last night (normally a job for Christmas Eve – I am a man, after all!), I don’t mind one last (futile) opportunity to clear my to-do list before Christmas.

As it’s my last day of work, I have decided to stick with this theme for today’s main video. There may or may not be a bonus Santa-themed video later on.

And today I am offering another Catalan video, released last month by the band PeTaCa (Petit Taller de Cançons) and entitled Bressol d’hivern (Winter Crib). Rather fittingly, it focuses on families and friends coming together to spend the period with people who matter to us.

The lyrics roughly translate* as follows:

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#CC18: 2 Days to Christmas

This evening, I will be popping along to Carols in the Pub at the King George V in Brompton. No, I won’t be drinking alcohol, I think I had almost my whole year’s quota of that last night

Organised by St Mark’s Church, Carols in the Pub is not just an opportunity for me to get into the festive mood, but also (deeply personal sentimental comment alert) one of a number of steps I am taking to try to return to Christ after an extremely difficult year. To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II, 2018 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure, for a number of reasons.

My annus horribilis aside, in preparation for this evening’s service, I present to you a more upbeat carol. Filmed for Songs of Praise, The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy tells of the story of Jesus’ birth, something I’m led to believe is somewhat important at this time of year.

But then, I’m hardly likely to be held out as a model Christian, so what would I know…

#CC18: 3 Days to Christmas

“No tingueu por. Us anuncio una bona nova que portarà a tot el poble una gran alegria: avui, a la ciutat de David, us ha nascut un salvador, que és el Messies, el Senyor.”

Lluc 2:10-11 BCI

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11 NIV

As we get closer to the big day, I’d like us to take a moment to remind ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas.

No, it’s not the presents, the food or getting hilariously drunk at the office Christmas party! Instead, I am, of course, talking about the birth of Jesus, the son of God and, some would say, the saviour of mankind.

People who know me best will know I’m not really one to preach (I leave that to the professionals!).

Instead, on the Countdown to Christmas today I will simply leave you with Els Àngels de la Glòria, a Catalan take on the classic Angels We Have Heard On High, by Pastorets Rock.

VilaWeb: The Moncloa imposes change of name of El Prat airport to Josep Tarradellas

This is a translation of an article from Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “La Moncloa imposa el canvi de nom de l’aeroport del Prat pel de Josep Tarradellas“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

The Spanish Council of Ministers will today approve the change of name of Barcelona-El Prat Airport, which will be called Josep Tarradellas Airport. Sources at the Moncloa have confirmed the news, adding that ‘it is a decision which is loaded with symbolism, communicated to the Generalitat and the family’.

Indeed, the decision was communicated to the family, who were informed days ago and gave permission to use the name of President Tarradellas. But the Generalitat, according to sources in the Catalan Government, have not been able to have their say, and complain that the change was not agreed upon, recalling that there are naming commissions to manage and work on decisions like this one. The Catalan Government have requested that the Spanish Government rectify the decision and not go ahead with approving the change of name.

The General Secretary of ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), Marta Rovira, as leader of Tarradellas’ party, has criticised the decision: