Registration open for the 39th Cercle d’Economia Annual Meeting

The Cercle d'Economia is organizing the 39th Cercle d'Economia Annual Meeting (RCE) entitled "The world on trial. Strategies to boost productivity and competitiveness in times of change" which will be held this year at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya in Barcelona from May 22 to 24.

The annual meeting will analyze a variety of open subjects in an ever-changing world and will address strategies to guarantee economic, political and social progress. The event will take place in 2024, which is the year with the most elections being held and the greatest number of armed conflicts in history.

Europe and its challenges, among them support for Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, relations with China and the United States with the unknown of a possible second term for Trump, as well as expanding towards the east will be the focal point of the meeting. Federica Mogherini, rector of the College of Europe and former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will speak on this topic. The new resulting political map of the upcoming European elections, as well as the elections in the United States and the uncertainty of Donald Trump's possible re-election will also be the subject of debate in the event with Eugene J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist and senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

This year's annual event will also focus on the importance of promoting productivity and well-being for Spain's economic, political, and social progress from an array of perspectives. Furthermore, the meeting will also discuss education as a lever for productivity. The latest PISA report situates Catalonia' results among the worst in Spain and among OECD countries in the three areas of evaluation: mathematics, reading and science. The educational system is at a crossroads in terms of testing, but also concerning whether it is capable of generating future professionals who can contribute to enhancing the productivity of companies and, ultimately, the economy. The director for education at the OECD, Andreas Schleicher, considered the father of the PISA tests, will analyze the situation.

Technology and innovation are the long-term determinants of productivity and economic growth. Artificial intelligence is opening new doors for development in the economy and will have a significant impact on employment and wages. Columbia University Economics Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martín will conduct a prospective exercise, focusing on the case of Catalonia, Spain and Europe. The event will even address artificial intelligence and the keys for AI to effectively aid productivity, featuring Carmen Artigas, co-chair of the United Nations High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, and Ulises Cortes, director of the High Performance Artificial Intelligence group at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

The key pillars for productivity will be the focal point of a roundtable discussion featuring Oscar Garcia Maceiras (CEO of Inditex), Juanjo Cano (CEO of KPMG) and Pau Relat (President of Fira de Barcelona). This year European family businesses, which represent more than 60% of companies in the European Union, will also play a central role, with Simone Bagel-Trah (Chairman of the Shareholders' Committee and the Supervisory Board of Henkel), Ermenegildo Zegna (President and CEO of Zegna Group) and Marc Puig (President of Puig) addressing the subject.

Challenges related to sustainability and the transition towards a green and circular economy are highly relevant. How will companies cope? Should climate risks be considered fundamental business risks and should mitigation be part of business strategy? The event will feature, among others, the global head of sustainability of the Zurich Group Alison Martin, and the CEO of Vueling, Carolina Martinoli, in a roundtable discussion focused on the challenges of sustainability for the economy and companies.

Finally, the event will emphasize the urgent need for administrative simplification. Excess bureaucracy slows the economy down: every year around one million pages are published in the official gazettes of various government agencies, a large part of which are new regulations or amendments to previous ones that result in excess paperwork. Spain is in 30th place in the World Bank ranking on the ease of doing business, lagging far behind its economic weight in the world. Victor Lapuente, Professor of Political Science at the University of Göteborg, and Cristina Herrero, president of AIREF, among others, will discuss this issue.

Our event will also feature Spanish politicians, with whom we will hold discussion sessions. The following political and institutional representatives have confirmed their attendance: Pedro Sánchez (President of the Government), Alberto Núñez Feijóo (President of the Popular Party), Carlos Cuerpo (Minister of Economy, Commerce and Business), Pere Aragonès (President of the Generalitat of Catalonia) and Pablo Hernández de Cos (Governor of the Bank of Spain).

The Cercle d'Economia European Construction Award will recognize the work of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, co-founders of BioNTech, the biotechnology company that developed the world's first vaccine against COVID-19. The jury has decided to award the prize to Şahin and Türeci for their contributions to science, which have had an enormous impact on the well-being of Europeans and the strengthening of scientific research in Europe. Their research has not only saved millions of lives, it has also inspired a new generation of scientists in Europe. During their research work during the early days of BioNTech, Şahin and Türeci were beneficiaries of European research grants, highlighting the critical role that European strategic funding can play for transformative scientific research. The success of their research is proof of the importance and success of research promotion programs at the European level, with an immediate impact on the lives of European citizens and, in this case, effectively addressing the greatest recent challenge to global health that the international community and the European Union have had to face. The award ceremony will be chaired by His Majesty the King of Spain.

The Cercle d'Economia European Construction Award was founded in 2020 with the aim of recognizing the careers of notable individuals who have contributed, through their political, economic, cultural, or social career, to the construction of Europe and the consolidation of the European Union.

As part of the award ceremony, a roundtable discussion will take place on the challenges of the medicine of the future with the participation of the cardiologist Valentí Fuster and the director of the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) Josep Tabernero, among others.

The Cercle will also grant the Lara Awards for entrepreneurial ambition and mission.

As with every year, a few days before the event, the Cercle d'Economia will present its informed opinion on the central theme of the Cercle d'Economia Annual Conference. This year the opinion will be related to productivity. The conclusions of a report will also be announced that will feature companies' viewpoint on this matter.

About the Cercle d'Economia Annual Meetings:

The Cercle d'Economia Annual Meetings, called the Costa Brava Annual Meetings until the 17th edition, are the Cercle's most notable public activity. They are the longest-standing economic conferences held in Spain. From 1997 to 2019 the annual meetings were held in Sitges. Since 2021 they have taken place in Barcelona.