Former Balearics president, José Ramón Bauzá. | Pilar Pellicer

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Former Balearic president and now MEP for Ciudadanos, José Ramón Bauzá, has demanded that the German government's tourism commissioner, Thomas Bareiss, retracts statements made during an interview with the German ZDF television channel. Bareiss advised Germans that there would be risks with travelling to Spain this summer, that overseas tourism is unlikely to be possible and that everything points to there being tourism at home in Germany.

Bauzá said on Monday that it is unacceptable that a member of the German government should be making this type of statement at a time of crisis in Europe. The ex-president suggested that behind the words there was "a degree of populism that merely seeks to fuel" northern and southern European differences.

The rate of infection in the Balearics and the Canaries, Bauzá observed, is lower than the vast majority of German 'Länder' (states). The Spanish government would "in no instance think to tell its citizens not to travel to Germany". "Thanks to the European project, Germany is as much a part of the Spanish borders as any part of Spain is."

Bauzá referred to his proposal for a 'Europe Brand' to promote tourism within the EU and to "not speak of countries but of a single entity - the whole of Europe". "To stay behind internal borders would be to backtrack on the European project that Germany has always championed." Insisting that there cannot be "falsehoods" directed at individual member states, Bauzá added that the Balearics are as safe as anywhere. "Majorca has always welcomed Germans, and Ciudadanos are taking an active role in ensuring that German tourists who have second residences on the island can enjoy it as soon as the health crisis has passed."

As well as urging the German authorities to retract the "malicious" words, Bauzá called on the regional government to demand an apology from the German government. "We cannot allow the good tourism image of the Balearics to be tarnished abroad."