When Carles Puigdemont and Manfred Weber met, they were both attending the Annual Gala in which Politico – which has gradually become one of the leading media outlets in Brussels – chooses its protagonists of the year. The publication, which has more journalists than any other covering European issues, and whose newsletter tens of thousands of people receive first thing every morning setting the agenda for the day, chose Donald Tusk, former president of the European Council and the man with the most possibilities of governing in Poland, as the most powerful European.

Its ranking has several categories. In the main one are Giorgia Meloni, Ursula von der Leyen or Emmanuel Macron at the head. But in the category of ‘disruptors’, just behind Elvira Nabiullina, governor of the Central Bank of Russia, is the former Catalan president. “Six years after holding an illegal secession referendum, Carles Puigdemont has established himself as a ‘kingmaker’ and a transcendental figure in Spanish politics,” the text says about him. Given his circumstances, the outlet says of the many attempts by Spanish Justice to bring him back to stand trial, “it is not surprising that Puigdemont conditioned his support for Pedro Sánchez on a general amnesty for him and all others prosecuted for their participation in the Catalan separatist movement during the last decade”.

Politico, which last year placed Isabel Díaz Ayuso, “Patron Saint of Bars”, at number 6 in that same category of ‘disruptors’, summarizes the situation for the continental public. “It is clear that Puigdemont has enormous influence in Spanish politics. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to use that power to push for a new self-determination referendum for Catalonia, this time with the approval of Madrid,” as “it will continue to be crucial in the future.” foreseeable, because without the support of Junts’ seven legislators, Spain’s new minority government will have difficulty passing any bill in the country’s hyper-fractured parliament.”

The category of ‘disruptors’ does not have a negative connotation, despite the fact that half of those included are, at least, controversial, eurosceptic or radical. On the 2023 list are the Hungarian prime minister and brute noire of Brussels, Viktor Orban. Tom Van Grieken, the young leader of the Flemish independence extreme right. Georgian oligarch, billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Or the “‘fascist'”, as he describes Björn Höcke, regional leader of Alternative for Germany and perhaps the charismatic leader that the German ultras were looking for. But alongside them there are heavyweights of continental politics, such as Mandred Weber himself, president of the European People’s Party and scourge of the PP against the amnesty. Or the powerful and influential German Foreign Minister, the Green Annalena Baerbock, who has changed her party’s way of understanding the world after the Russian invasion. Or the new EU ambassador in Washington.

In the list of the 28 protagonists of Politico’s list there is only one other Spaniard, in addition to Puigdemont, the soccer player Jenni Hermoso, in 9th place in the ‘dreamers’ section, along with the Ukrainian president Volodimir Zelenski and other politicians.