So far Spain had no an economic international forum of its own, and so it launched it on Monday. The Spanish government along with the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) and the Spanish Exporters and Investors Club came up with sort of a little Davos meeting in the northern city of Bilbao. Its main goal: highlight Spain’s achievements after almost three years of tight adjustments, and by extension the EU’s, although its critics point out how tailor-made the meeting was, no critical voices invited.
IMF’s managing director Christine Lagarde’s speech focused on whether Europe is really on the path of a sustainable growth. About Spain, Mrs. Lagarde confirmed the country’s has shifted trend to positive basically thanks to reforms undertaken in the financial sector, labour market, and tax deductions. Last IMF’s comments over Spain came after EU’s final report about Spanish banking industry on February 20th and followed that same argument of Spain overcoming an unprecedented crisis of its financial sector. Nevertheless, IMF’s head admitted that unemployment derived from crisis has severely wounded all EU member states, but more serious and specifically Spain. Therefore Lagarde suggested a new reformist move in the Spanish labour market, as well as in public debt reduction.
Four of biggest Spanish multinationals’ chairmen will attend the international meeting: Pablo Isla’s Inditex, César Alierta’s Telefónica, Iberdrola’s Ignacio Sánchez Galán and BBVA’s Francisco González, all of them members of one of the most important corporate lobbies in Spain, the Business Council for Competitiveness.
EU’s responsible head for competition Joaquín Almunia, also participating in the conference, launched two main headlines just some minutes before it started. On the ground of Spain’s Forum’s slogan “From stability to growth”, firstly Almunia said that “ if euro had not been saved, Europe would be paying a highest price”. Secondly, he did not forget the staggering 25% of Spain’s unemployment. “There are a lot of things to do,” the EU’ commissioner said.
As opposed to that motto of Spain’s growing, criticism from non profit organisations such as Cáritas emerged. Several institutions alongside Bilbao’s Church published a note in which they urged leaders attending the global forum “to listen to the victims of crisis.” Furthermore, they complained that “other social agents that could be the voice of so many jobless people, evicted families, or households living under poverty line are missing from the forum’s guest list”. Spanish NGOs had a key role during the crisis supporting families in severe need. Just as an example, national Food Banks were laureated in 2012 with Concord Prince of Asturias’s award. Non-profit organisations do not have room in today’s meeting, although their opinion “should be taken into account when assessing social efficiency of measures that this summit will discuss”, Cáritas says.