Friday, May 27, 2011

ΣΥΝΕΝΤΕΥΞΗ: Europe lagging behind?


Στην εφημερίδα "NEW EUROPE"των Βρυξελλων δημοσιεύεται συνέντευξη της Αλίας Παπαγεωργίουμε τον Μαρκ Σπέλμαν

                                           Interview By Alia Papageorgiou*

Europe lagging behind?
by Mark SpelmanGlobal Head of Strategy – Accenture

Mark Spelman could be described as a tall, high flying, globetrotting, grey suited big grinned executive who likes to keep Europe on her toes, “Europe is lagging behind” is one of the first things he tells me as we’ve been trying to have a phone interview on the Thursday before the European Business Summit and finally manage to talk.
“I’ve been flying around the world and just got back from Rio in Brasil where the world stage is turning its glance more and more often,” he says having just given me a sweeping tour of what’s happening globally, how the world’s economy is growing at 4% and how apart from Europe everyone else is forging ahead not necessarily in the countries one would expect.
Rio for example is hosting the RIO +20 in June next year “and they’re very excited” notes Spelman, a UN Conference on Sustainable Development, a hot topic for growth, jobs and demand on the global scene.

Posted by New Europe
on May 16, 2011
in European Business, Industry

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Director, Poul Thomsen (R), accompanied by European Central Bank (ECB) head of mission, Rasmus Ruffer (L), and Troika representative from the European Commission, Juergen Kroeger, during a press conference to present the agreement between the Portuguese authorities and Troika on the economic aid program, in Lisbon, Portugal, 5 May 2011. |EPA/MARIO CRUZ
“I was also in China just before that meeting with those involved in the SmartGrid there and could feel the energy for this great move in innovation,” says Spelman Accenture’s managing director for the Accenture Strategy service line. He also leads Accenture’s strategic think tank— the Institute for High Performance, has responsibility for Accenture’s global relationship with the World Economic Forum and is the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce’s European Union Executive Council.
The difference he notes between Europe and the rest of the world in their growth is a continued concentration solely on the fiscal stability issues, “one week it’s Greece, one week its Spain, then Portugal, so one of my concerns is that many leaders are so preoccupied with fiscal stability that other areas are not getting attention.”
The world is moving forward, and quickly “Asian countries have no financial drag, so Europe needs to become more pro-active, we need to look at the demand for exports, for innovation, supply of services and others and answer that,” Spelman emphasizes form the Accenture offices in London.
“Within the global market trajectory it is critical for Europe’s competitiveness that it does not stand still,” Spelman repeats. Of course he understands the need for fiscal stability first but calls for a segmented reality where one half is concerned with this and the other with growth, “SMEs need to be better equipped, Innovation needs to be better funded, the decrease in consumption, all these must be addressed.
Looking at emerging economies he does postulate that all is not rosy for them with issues as inflation for example and around commodity production and price volatility particularly, there are issues there as well.
His concerns are no different from global economists looking on the global stage and rating global competitiveness.
The following morning on 13 May the European Commissioner responsible for economic and monetary affairs held a press conference to share the results of a Eurostat report released moments before and give his Spring Forecast with First Quarter (Q1) figures for Europe’s economy the underlying goal.
The Forecast was more positive than even he had expected “it may be Friday the 13th but for once I have some good news on the real economy in Europe,” he lightly mentioned before going back to the risks and vulnerabilities still on the horizon, “not least in the sovereign debt areas.”
“Job creation remains unsatisfactory” he began, “developments remain uneven across member states”, growth prospects have been slightly upgraded compared to last autumn, more over demand is the main engine of growth.
“In fact the EU GDP has increased by 0.8 % in t Q1,” not failing to mention that “0.8 is exactly double that of the US number.”
In slight accordance with Spelman’s prediction Rehn did not fail to mention that activity in China continues to outpace economic activity in the advanced economies.
The overall sentiment indicators show activity gathering pace in the next quarter whereas recovery remains varied within the member states themselves.
The GDP is projected to grow by 1.25% in 2011 and by 2% next year in 2012 surpassing the pre-crisis levels.
As far as Greece was concerned, “the fiscal effort of the past year is unprecedented as over 7% of the GDP has been reduced,” however he warned that internal political squabbles must be “put aside for recovery to take place,” a political comment nto often spouted from the Berlaymont indicating its severity.
Lagging behind or growing? That is the question.
In slight increments growth is there, if comparing to the world stage we’re definitely not kicking our heels to the tune of the Zorba any more, but even some economists would agree that the last thing Europe is doing, at this stage, is a slow dance.

*H Αλία Παπαγεωργίου
ειναι δημοσιογράφος στις Βρυξέλλες
και ειδικευεται στο Ευρωπαικό Δίκαιο

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