This article was translated by John R. Bopp
WE HAVEto thank the reader who told us about this interview with Iván Jiménez, the Managing Director of bizkaia:talent, which we found extremely interesting. Firstly, for its reach, as it was produced by the most-watched news program worldwide (75 million spectators in 200 countries), but also because of its content and focus, and even for the hidden message in the virtual scenery at the BBC World studio.
It seems very significant to us that in order to talk about how the Kingdom of Spain is overcoming the crisis, they interview a director of bizkaia:talent.
And it is because the Basque Autonomous Community as well as the Chartered Community of Navarre are possibly the main exception in the economic structure of this kingdom. They have a powerful industrial infrastructure that reaches the average European levels in influence on GDP (and soundly beats those of Spain). They have a level of self-government that allows them to direct their own industrial, educational, and R&D policies.
The truth is that we’re glad BBC World decided to tell this specific aspect of the “Basque case” to their spectators. It’s gratifying to see how the message is much clearer to explained directly, without middlemen, what we’re doing, who we are, and what we’re trying to achieve.
It’s much more common for these messages to arrive mixed up, as can be inferred in the BBC World presenter’s introduction, when he presents the causes of the crisis in Spain to also be specific to the Basques.
Basque banks and credit unions have not collapsed; rather, they are very strong. Except for Caja Navarra, the Navarrese credit union, which didn’t collapse but was rather was given away by some of its former managers at CFN, who are responsible for its delicate situation, rather than merging it with the credit unions of the Basque Autonomous Community, which would be have been the most natural and advantageous decision for the credit union and the territory.
The real estate crisis has affected the Southern Basque Country’s economy tangentially, a wildly different situation from that experienced in other parts of the Kingdom of Spain.
Actually, the economic crisis in the Basque Country was caused by poor demand in its traditional markets. The almost complete paralyzation of the Spanish economy (for example, the Basque Autonomous Community sells a third of its exports to Spain) put Basque productivity under great stress, to which must be added the general economic slowdown across Europe.
To fight back, Basque producers have dedicated themselves, with notable success, to searching for new markets, which will also mean that when the international economy stabilizes, its position will be much stronger.
On the other hand, the young people who were educated in the Basque Country but have moved abroad has to do with more factors than the crisis. One of those is the large percentage of young Basques who have chosen to pursue a university education. It’s impossible for an economic structure such as the Basque one to absorb so many university graduates. Another issue is that, despite recent advances, we still have a long way to go to improving the technological capacity of our economy. As we go further down it, we’ll have a greater capacity for highly-skilled technicians and researchers.
One detail, one tiny misstep. We can’t help but wonder what the Basque reality has to do with the image that was used to accompany the interview in the background of the virtual set. We can’t help but wonder how intentionally this image was chosen, and it’s not a positive one.
We’ll leave you with the interview
BBC World – 21/10/2016 – Gran Bretaña
Interview with Iván Jiménez, Managing Director of bizkaia:talent