The president of the Government, Pedro Sanchezmade a public call this Wednesday to businessmen and women to “get involved” in the economic and social development of the country and to overcome the logic of “systemic rivalry” between the Government and companies that often promote “certain media outlets and radical parties”.
During his speech at the plenary hall of the World Economic Fund (WEF) held in Davos, Sánchez presented the Government of Spain as the ally of the business class.
“The Government of Spain is your ally,” he said at an event attended by Spanish business representatives such as Ana Botín, president of Banco Santander, José María Álvarez-Palletepresident and CEO of Telefónica; Ignacio Sánchez Galán, president and CEO of Iberdrola; Carlos Torrespresident of BBVA; Josu Jon Imaz, CEO of Repsol; Francisco Reynéspresident and CEO of Naturgy; Rafael del Pinoexecutive president of Ferrovial; José Manuel Entrecanalespresident of Acciona; Maarten Wetselaar, CEO of Cepsa or Jose Luis BlancoCEO of Nordex.
These same business representatives were summoned immediately afterwards to a brief informal meeting with the President of the Government in a hotel, within the perimeter where the activities of the World Economic Forum take place in the Alpine resort of Davos. Ana Botín He came up to greet Sánchez before this meeting, since she had to participate in another event at the same time. Yes she came Hector Grisi, CEO of Santander. The meeting with the dozen business representatives who attended the meeting took place “in an atmosphere of cordiality”, according to sources from La Moncloa, who highlighted the presence of Del Pino and Sánchez Galán after they refused to attend a similar appointment last year.
Business sources belonging to some of the Spanish multinationals participating in this edition of the Davos Forum have confirmed that the meeting with the president took place in a relaxed atmosphere, in which the most thorny issues, such as taxes, would have been avoided. special issues on banking and energy or other regulatory discrepancies. Yes, Artificial Intelligence has been discussed and on this point, some attendees have pointed out to the president that the emphasis is often placed more on the negative consequences of this technological development than on the positive ones.
“Don’t fall into their trap”
“Act accordingly. Act responsibly,” Pedro Sánchez had asked in his public speech to the Davos plenary session. “Think long term. Don’t get carried away by those radical media and political parties that are obsessed with projecting ourselves as systemic rivals. That they profit by selling polarization. Don’t fall into their trap. Let’s collaborate. Let’s take advantage of the great challenges that I mentioned before to build bridges, enhance synergies and establish new forms of public-private collaboration,” he added.
The President of the Government’s message becomes relevant after recent episodes in which initiatives or speeches by his Executive have collided head-on with business organizations (case of the lack of agreement with the CEOE for the increase in the interprofessional minimum wage), with productive sectors (case of special taxes on banking and energy) or with specific companies (for example, with the president of Ferrovial, Rafael del Pino, or as was the case further back with the president of Iberdrola, Ignacio Sánchez Galán).
Business sources have confirmed the willingness to “build bridges” that allow building a better climate in relations with the Government. “We need each other,” they emphasize. The Government needs the private investment so that the economy continues to grow at a time when the fiscal space of public administrations is narrowing, and companies need the Government to improve the climate to carry out their businesses, they reason.
“Let’s not swallow the old neoliberal postulates that present the State as a purely extractive entity that does not generate value. Or that they affirm that the responsibility of companies is to increase the profits of shareholders,” Sánchez broke the tie in his speech.
The President of the Government, thus, has asked the business class “to get involved” and to help the Government “to raise the purchasing power of workersto stop the climate emergency, to vindicate international norms and defend democracy and fight against involution “which represents the reactionary wave that is sweeping the world.” Sánchez has offered and asked for collaboration.
Hours earlier, in an interview with Bloomberg, he had already begun to lay the groundwork for his message in favor of “strengthening the public and private relationship to face common challenges.” Within this framework, the president framed his intention to increase the role of the State in strategic business sectors related to cybersecurity, defense and artificial intelligence, as has already been seen with the decision that the SEPI (State Company of Industrial Participations) acquire up to 10% of Telefónica.
Political polarization and war conflicts
The President of the Government has dedicated another important part of his speech in Davos to warning against the rise of the extreme right and autocratic regimes in different parts of the world. Looking ahead to the next European elections, he has appealed for citizens to “strengthen the traditional parties and not the far-right ones, so that we have a European Parliament constructive”.
Regarding the geopolitical tensions, aggravated by the war in Ukraine, the long crisis in Syria and the war conflict in the Gaza Strip, Sánchez took advantage of his intervention at the Davos forum to defend the survival of an international order based on rules. The president has insisted on the need for an “immediate ceasefire” by Israel in Gaza and for an international conference to resolve this conflict that goes through the recognition of two states in the area (Hebrew and Palestinian).