The United Kingdom's decision to advise its citizens not to travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands, following the recommendations that it had already been made for the rest of the Spanish state, is a resounding slap in the face for Spanish diplomacy and one more example of the country's progressive loss of importance in decisions that are taken beyond the Pyrenees. Absolutely nothing was gained from the persistent appeals to London to rescue the two archipelagos from the blow inflicted by Boris Johnson's executive on the Spanish economy, which is rapidly going into a nosedive more due to the state's own mistakes than through the efforts of others.
The absence of a Spanish diplomatic policy, with foreign minister Arancha González Laya having lost every battle she has undertaken with her European colleagues, is yet another example of why the deputy PM and economy minister, Nadia Calviño, did not win the presidency of the Eurogroup, losing to the Irish candidate when her victory had been taken for granted in Madrid, and it is also the prelude to something that very few neutral observers are discussing at this point: the fact that the aid approved by EU member states at the last European summit, although huge, will be completely insufficient and an economic rescue will be on the table.
The double decision to impose a quarantine on tourists returning to the UK if they have visited any part of Spain, and the strong advice given by France and Belgium to their citizens, amount to insult on top of injury for the tourism sector, which can do little but watch as the few options it has for a minimal recovery evaporate in the summer heat. In the case of Catalonia, British tourism is not as important as French, but the UK does rank second among European countries, ahead of Germany, Italy, Russia and Belgium. However, two points stand out. First, that with a higher coronavirus deathtoll in the UK than in Spain, the measures taken by the London authorities are so drastic. And second, that health emergency director Fernando Simón should choose to make some ironic quips about the advantages of the Brits and Belgians not visiting just when diplomatic talks are being held to relocate the focus and open safe corridors between London, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.
The dialectical exaggeration used in the explanation of the health data and the call to young people to go out less, re-apply safety measures and abandon any plans to take part in large gatherings are a combination which is as necessary as it is dangerous. This Monday, Catalan restaurateurs, retailers and the service sector in general were breathing fire after the speech by president Torra warning of new measures, including obligatory lockdown, if in ten days the Covid-19 numbers are not looking better. Thus, business indicators fell again and bookings were cancelled. Yet the terraces and squares were just as crowded as last weekend. This, in the end, is the drama: when there are groups on the street, masks practically disappear and what is theoretically gained on one side is lost on the other.