Did you know that the EU brings people together to work across borders and protect you and millions of other citizens? Whether they’re preparing to rush to the scene of an emergency in the blink of an eye, researching the cure for a mysterious condition, or working to make your area a little greener; together these ordinary heroes make Europe a better place to live.  

Coordinated by the EU, they protect your homes, friends, families and jobs, and these are their stories.


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Desirée Paseiro

National Federation of Transport Associations


Desirée helps Spanish trucking firms deal with international issues including customs, cross-border payments and European licences. Her federation represents around 30,000 transport companies in Spain, delivering all sorts of goods across Europe. For Desirée, the European Commission’s involvement was crucial in breaking a cartel of truck manufacturers and giving her members the chance to prepare compensation claims.

Ana María Blass-Rico

Spanish, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs department, European Commission


Originally from Spain, Ana-Maria lives in Brussels, where she works with the European Commission’s department dealing with the Internal Market and Industry. She contributes to the drafting of regulations within the EU regulation framework for chemicals, REACH.




Dr Elena Cubero-León

Spanish, Joint Research Centre, European Commission


Elena is a food safety scientist. She works in the food and feed compliance unit of the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission's science and knowledge service.

Elena and her colleagues develop methods that laboratories across the EU use to test for food allergens. The goal is to guarantee the safety of consumers. She coordinates a network of EU official control laboratories to make sure that the same safety standards are applied everywhere inside the EU.

Esther Pozo-Vera

Spanish, Migration Management Support unit, European Commission


Upon hearing that the EU had launched an EU migration relocation scheme, Esther left her position in the Commission’s department responsible for environment and joined the ranks of the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs. At the peak of Europe’s migration crisis, Esther became part of the EU team that spearheaded and launched the relocation programme. Alternating between Brussels and Greece, she worked in tandem with asylum services, EU agencies and international organisations to assist European countries most affected by migratory challenges and offer a safe future to those fleeing a turbulent past.

Dr Marta Sitges

Hospital Clinic of Barcelona


Marta is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona and director of the Cardiovascular Institute at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. She joined the Hospital Clinic in 2001 and specialised in echocardiography and valve disease. Within ARISE, one of the EU’s heart valve replacement studies, she is responsible for following patients’ progress after their operations.

Borja Pastor

Spanish, Europol

The Netherlands

Alongside his colleagues at Europol, Borja helps police officers from different EU countries work together to investigate serious and organised crimes. In the early hours of 5 July 2017, Borja was on call as police forces raided the homes and businesses of suspects simultaneously in Italy, Spain and Germany. Throughout the day, he made sure support was on the ground, and that police in all three countries had the most up-to-date information related to the suspects in the investigation.

Enrique Morales

former Europol


Enrique worked at Europol for six-and-a-half years, focusing on cases that dealt with different forms of exploitation such as sexual and labour exploitation, forced criminality, child trafficking and human organ trafficking. In this specific case, Enrique was the principal Europol analyst. He provided analysis support to national police authorities and Eurojust throughout the investigation and coordinated the exchange of information.


Francisco Jiménez-Villarejo

Spanish, Eurojust

The Netherlands

Francisco was appointed National Member for Spain at Eurojust in 2012. In 2015 he was contacted by the Spanish authorities to assist in their investigations into a Bulgarian organised crime group operating in the Costa del Sol region, Spain, and he was instrumental in setting up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) between Spain and Bulgaria. The JIT facilitated information exchange at the judicial level, and Eurojust provided advice on all legal aspects of the operation such as issuing restraining orders and blocking suspects’ bank accounts. 

Inspector David Diego Monserrat

National Police


David leads the division against human trafficking of the Spanish National Police. Based in Madrid, he manages a team that works with the courts, other Spanish police units and different European services. After receiving information from a reliable source that women from Bulgaria were being forced to work as prostitutes in southern Spain, he contacted Europol and Eurojust in order to share information and coordinate arrests directly with the Bulgarian Police. 

Juan D.

Civil Guard


The ordinary hero’s name has been changed due to the sensitive nature of the investigative operation and for the safety of the officers involved.​

The Spanish Civil Guard has different operational units investigating serious crimes such as drug trafficking and money laundering. On 5 July 2017, Spanish officers worked along their Italian and German colleagues to take down an organised crime group trafficking drugs and money through Italy and Germany.

Captain Rocío Alonso

Civil Guard


Captain Rocío Alonso is Head of Operations at the EUROSUR National Coordination Centre in Spain, where maritime rescue operations, such as operations INDALO and HERA, are led and coordinated. In this role, Rocío coordinates air and sea resources , including foreign and national civil forces to protect Mediterranean coasts. These operations can be carried out thanks to European collaboration with countries such as Belgium, Czechia, France, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden. 

Salvador Manera

Biodiversidad Founding – Pescaplastik


Salvador Manera works as a fisherman. Over recent years he has combined his profession with his work on conservation and social awareness. Through the Pleamar Programme, financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, Salvador organises activities to save the sea such as the collection of waste, as well as talks and courses on good practices in sustainable fishing and the protection of the marine ecosystem. Salvador often organises entertainment shows for children in order to educate them about caring for the seas and oceans. Thanks to his hard work, Salvador was awarded the Catalan Fishing Medal 2018.

Carmen Varela Martínez

National Centre for Epidemiology – Carlos III Health Institute


Dr. Carmen Varela is a specialist in microbiology and epidemiology. Dr. Varela has been working at the National Epidemiology Center since 2002, where she is responsible for the control of diseases transmitted by food and water. She is also the Spanish point of contact for the European network of diseases transmitted by water and food, coordinated by the European Centre for the Prevention and Control of Diseases. Dr. Varela has participated in different European projects related to foodborne diseases and health threats in border areas.

Fernando Adrados

Torrejon Air Base


Captain Fernando Adrados is a pilot in the Spanish Air Force, based in Torrejon de Ardoz Air Base. In the summer of 2017, he and his colleagues were part of a coordinated effort involving 9 countries to help extinguish the Pedrogão Grande wildfires in Portugal. 

From his airtanker, Fernando helped put out the destructive fires that burned for over 4 days. Spain provided help in the framework of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, an EU initiative to coordinate the response to natural and man-made distasters. 

Fernando joined the General Air Academy in 2009 after having grown up surrounded by pilot uniforms and model aircrafts. In secondary school he decided to become a military pilot after watching the video of a fire intervention made by the Spanish Air Force.

Jone Omar Onaindia

Spanish, Joint Research Centre, European Commission


Dr Jone Omar is an analytical chemist. She joined the European Commission's science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre, in 2013 and she works on fraud detection and prevention. Together with her colleagues, Jone has developed a new approach to support law enforcement authorities in the EU Member States to detect illicit tobacco and trace trafficking routes of counterfeit products entering the EU. This approach allows the detection of various chemical components within the samples, in a fast and simple way.

Javier Gimeno

National Air Force


Javier is a Lieutenant Waterbomber Pilot working with the Spanish Air Force. He works in the firefighting unit, which has two aircraft permanently available for use by the EU in the event of fires in other Member States. Javier considers his 150-strong team to be like a family and together they preserve the environment from catastrophic wildfires. The fires in Portugal and Galicia in 2017 were Javier’s first experience of fighting fire and he considers the disaster to have changed his perspective on the issue. As a child, he was inspired by his father – who was also a military pilot – and says that his job combines his passion for helping others with his love of flying. 

Jaime Penadés Suay

University of Valencia


Jaime Penadés worked as a Scientific Support Technician on the EU-funded Medsealitter project. This project developed a standard procedure to monitor marine litter in protected areas of the Mediterranean Sea so that we can reduce marine pollution where the situation is most critical. As part of the Medsealitter project, the team from the University of Valencia developed a way to monitor marine litter from aeroplanes, and worked with partners to study microplastics consumed by sea turtles and fish to help us understand how to reduce plastic in marine environments.