The 10th Spanish-German Economic Forum took place last Tuesday in Berlin, building on the country trip of the King and Queen of Spain to Germany. Philip VI and German President, Frank Walter SteinmeierThe session opened, which emphasized the harmony and new opportunities that open up for business relations between the two countries after the energy crisis and the new momentum of the digital revolution. It is clear that other sectors such as automobiles, machinery, tourism, pharmaceuticals or publishing will continue to deepen their relationship.
Under the motto “Building a digital and sustainable future in Europe together”, the Forum served as a platform for companies such as Telefónica – sponsor of the event together with Bertelsmann Publishing, ICO Foundation, Liz Mohn Foundation – Iberdrola, Grupo Antolín, Santander, TUI, BlackRock, Merck, UFA or Schaeffler AG, TUI, DZ Bank or Enagás to meet challenges in those sectors that support the economic relations between Spain and Germany, a country that is our second largest trading partner after France.
Approximately 11% of total exports in Spain are destined for Germany and about 13% of imports come from Germany, which is Spain’s main supplier. Germany is among the top three emitters of greenhouse gases tourists who are visiting Spain, besides the UK and France.
Of course, the need to advance the European project and economic synergies, in a geopolitical context such as the current one of the war in Ukraine and tension between the United States and China, was a central theme championed by the Forum.
This was confirmed by the President of Telefónica, Jose Maria Alvarez Palettein his opening speech: “Europe needs to move to the next level with sufficient strategic European culture to develop strategic autonomy for the continent immediately.”
The Spanish director distanced this idea from “old ideas of protectionism and isolationism” and suggested that it was time to “build firm internal pillars” and not “sowing new areas of misunderstanding”.
Strategic independence from Europe in key sectors – including the defense industry – could strengthen Spanish-German relations. This was the thesis of a forum that has not been held since 2018 and its first edition was held in 2002.
The forum was also attended by the German Minister of Economy and Climate Protection, Robert HabeckThe Spanish Minister of Industry, Kings Maroto.
Currently, there are 1,325 German companies installed in Spain, directly supporting 231,000 jobs. On the other hand, there are about 260 Spanish companies in Germany that employ 60 thousand people.
with the energy crisis As a background, new energy supply routes in Europe were another major issue addressed. Aside from promoting renewables, interconnection of the future green gas or hydrogen grid from Spain to the rest of Europe via France has been one of the demands of the combined companies.
“Securing supplies is an absolute priority in Europe in order to replace the natural gas that the old continent was importing from Russia and especially from countries like Germany,” said Enagás CEO, Arthur Gonzalo.
“We can save extra gas if we build new linkages connecting the Iberian Peninsula to the rest of Europe, which needs a more flexible gas transportation system now and hydrogen in the future. Having new links will benefit all of us, including France. It’s about finding an agreement where the work is done. The political and the least is the name of the infrastructure.The head of the natural gas transport company explained that it will give more gas today and, above all, more green hydrogen from Spain in the future.
Spanish Minister Reyes Maroto also made a strong defense of the project medcat – which has already been overridden by the Barcelona-Marseille link agreed by Macron, Sanchez and Costa on Thursday at a meeting -: “It could become one of the priority projects in the EU’s renewable energy plan given that our country has the best conditions that produce green hydrogen and can become A convenient and reliable supplier of hydrogen.
Far from the new “boom” of the green economy or digitization, the Spanish-German Economic Forum X has promoted a new phase in the relationship that could give very good results, “with positive consequences also for the rest of the European Union” as Felipe VI and President Steinmeier agreed.