• The Barcelona Comerç association champions the creation of the annual celebration and nominates the Catalan capital to be the first to host it

  • The initiative defends the neighborhood shopping model as a key for cities to maintain their identity and human dimension

If a business distinguishes the DNA of Barcelona that of many other large cities is that of neighborhood, which sprinkles the city with shops far and wide, ensuring most goods and services a few steps from home. This nearby trade, as a value that humanizes large cities and makes it easy for any neighbor to buy, well deserves a capital status that promotes and disseminates it. For this reason, the entity Barcelona Trade (as a large employer of the non-central axes) has presented this Thursday the project of European Capital of Proximity Trade and the candidacy of the Catalan capital to be the first to host it in 2023.

After several years working on this idea, and when the pandemic has reinforced the role of neighborhood establishments as points of supply and socialization, the time has come to launch an initiative that is predicted to be successful. The president of the association, Save Vendrell, has exposed it this afternoon before institutional representatives, civil society and entities. They have not missed the first deputy mayor of Barcelona, ​​Jaume Collboni; the secretary of the Department of Business and Competitiveness, Albert Castellanos; the president of the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, Dolors Montserrat, and the director of the European Parliament Office in Barcelona, ​​Sergi Barrera.

“Barcelona has the attributes and the strength to be the first great capital”, Vendrell claimed, supported by the representatives of the 23 axes that brings together, and defending the preservation of the identity of European metropolises, reducing its commercial “desertification”. He has also made clear his will to be “a city, country and state projecta true common European cause”.

Ripening program

Although the local program would still have to be detailed, if the initiative goes ahead, the European Capital of Proximity Trade proposes that each year a city hosts informative, informative and training actions and activities aimed at citizens and merchants with the challenge of “valuing local trade and contributing to the collective awareness of its importance in the economic and social sphere”, according to the document.

In Barcelona It is suggested to create a meeting point between trade entities and European cities, “sharing public-private and social strategies, policies and good practices on sustainability, digitization, technology, mobility, urban policies, logistics, commercial management, etc. marketing, communication and social responsibility”, through conferences, workshops, training, events and others.

For Castilians, the local candidacy “is a declaration of intentions of how Barcelona, ​​and by extension Catalonia, wants to present itself to the world as a commercial model”. Also Collboni has passionately defended the initiative and that the proximity model “is part of the European social model”, in addition to announcing that this year the council will once again pay for 75% of the lighting of Barcelona’s shopping streets. Y Montserrat He has assured that he fell in love with the project from its origins and has all his involvement: “I am very convinced that we will achieve it”.

Barrera recalled the “enormous” impact of the health crisis on trade, which generated the closure of nearly 3,000 establishments in Barcelona and the role of Next Generation funds in alleviating the situation. It has not overlooked the fact that trade is the second “most important” sector in the European Union for employment. In the case of Barcelona, ​​the neighborhood one proved to be much more resistant to the pandemic, since the neighborhoods fed on it for months and with great fidelity. On the other hand, the center of Ciutat Vella was much more affected, since in the absence of tourists many establishments closed their doors, unable to afford very high rents. Even today, there are dozens of those who are still in transfer.

Calendar and arguments

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To make the project a reality, at the end of this month will travel to Brussels a delegation from Barcelona Comerç, which, hand in hand with Showcases of Europe and with the support of trade entities from the rest of the continent, will establish institutional contacts and present it to the European Parliament and the European Commission, have reported.

The arguments are weighty: consolidate local commerce as the basis of European commerce, incorporate sustainable development objectives, “constructively and non-destructively digitize”, guarantee the consumer rights of Europeans, extend the model beyond the EU, promote community employment. An easier theory to internalize if one walks through Sants, Sant Andreu, Gran de Gràcia or Maragall and imagine what the neighborhoods would be like without that commercial heartbeat.

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