Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, said during his delivery of the closing speech at CEOE’s General Assembly that the Government will set its growth forecast for the Spanish economy at 2.7 per cent for the current year. “The most recent data released for the first quarter, together with international forecasts, have lead us to raise our forecast “, said the Head of the Government, who added that economic growth would be very positive in the coming years.
At the General Assembly, Juan Rosell stated emphatically that employers want “to continue creating jobs, the more the better and of the highest quality.” He also said that with this year’s salary proposals, employers are sending a message of hope, “taking into account that most Spanish companies, especially SMEs and microenterprises, are still posting losses and slowly emerging from the crisis “.
In his speech before the Assembly, Rosell described Spain’s transformation in the political, social and economic fields as “very positive” over the 40 years in which CEOE has been in existence, with “many successes and, of course, some failures”, as is the case for any human endeavour. He acknowledged the role played by the Monarchy and the different politicians throughout these years, of whom he said that “there is much to say and we should praise the political class of the last 40 years, the main protagonists of the process, even if some are set on questioning this role”, as well as the collaboration of CEOE and CEPYME, as social agents, to achieve the success obtained.
However, he added that it was necessary to “keep moving forward” and face the “multiple challenges in order to improve the competitiveness of companies and the welfare of citizens”; because “without more and better companies, companies that are bigger, more innovative and more competitive, progress is not possible.”
Dialogue, consensus and negotiation
He stated that we are currently in a “highly relevant” point in time and that the new framework of political relations in Spain requires “dialogue, consensus and negotiation on everyone’s part”. He added that, for entrepreneurs, it is essential to continue, precisely, resorting to dialogue and negotiation “to achieve stable and robust solutions to enable a lasting and sustainable economic recovery.” He assured that nothing will be achieved “through immobility” and that we should continue with the reforms “without being reckless but without pause”.
He emphasized that the Spanish economy has always shown a great capacity for recovery, and proof of this is the boost seen in employment creation, within a context of macroeconomic imbalances being corrected. However, he placed special emphasis on consolidating the recovery and on the need for the Government to pursue an economic policy that favours business competitiveness, for which it is essential to reduce corporate taxes, for any tax measure to be announced with due notice and for it to be intended as permanent; to coordinate state, regional and local tax policies, as well as to eliminate some regional taxes.
High regulatory environment
He also called for an improvement in the regulatory environment, since the factors that determine competitiveness include obstacles or advantages provided by the regulatory framework in which companies operate. In this sense, he regretted the existence of a “high and demanding” level of regulation, which means that companies cannot devote all their resources and efforts to creating wealth and generating jobs. Among the data he mentioned, he highlighted the number of standards currently in force, which stands at around 163,000, and the number of pages published by the Official National Bulletin (BOE) and the different regional bulletins (895,820 pages in 2016). He believes there should be an assessment of all the standards and a commitment to develop just a few, “but that are simple and stable over time.”
On the other hand, he called for more support for the industrial sector because it plays a key role in the economy as a whole and, therefore, “the role of the industrial sector should be reinforced, in line with the European objective for the manufacturing industry to represent 20 per cent of GDP by 2020 “. He proposed, on the other hand, a reduction in those costs that affect companies, such as social contributions and energy costs.
He called for conditions to ease job creation, for which legal certainty, flexibility and reality are essential. With regard to this last point, he clarified that “we need specific measures, measures that may have an immediate effect and that may be assessed quickly to ascertain their effectiveness. Obviously, a commitment to continue with the social dialogue is necessary for their implementation, especially in the area of collective bargaining and agreements, at all levels and in all areas. We must modernize collective bargaining so that it continues to bear fruit. We are setting forth a powerful proposal with the aim of achieving improvements.”
He also said that for Spanish employers it is necessary to consider education and training as a political priority of the State and to promote an improvement in the quality of the education and training programs and how they relate to the jobs.
The president of CEOE called on entrepreneurs to invest in innovation and boost the digital society and that this should be seen not just as a challenge, but also as an opportunity because “the new digital technologies are the main driver of social and economic transformation “. On the other hand, he encouraged entrepreneurs to continue investing in other countries and exporting.
He said that employers want “to play fundamental role in future social agreements on education, health, equality or the work-life balance, pensions and any other necessary issue, so we are contributing our ideas.” “It is fundamental,” he added, “for any advance in these matters to not lose sight of the role of companies.”
Lastly, Rosell stressed that business organizations, “as we have done over the past 40 years, are committed with Spain in their role of social interlocutors granted by the Constitution of 1978. In two-party as well as in three-party situations, in addition to the Public administration, there have been many agreements and the results are visible.”
The President of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete, highlighted CEOE’s 2020 Digital Plan and said he believed Spain´s digitalization should be increased by 10 per cent. This should be based on pillars such as connectivity with high-generation networks, cross-sector interaction, education and training, innovation and entrepreneurship.