Juan-Miguel Villar Mir joins the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences

November 5, 2013

Reading time: 4 minutes

Chairman of both Grupo Villar Mir and OHL, Juan-Miguel Villar Mir, has been inducted into the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences as a Full Academy Member bearing Medal 37, conferred by Marcelino Oreja, chairman of the institution.

Juan-Miguel Villar Mir’s induction speech addressed the topic from Protectionism to Globalization. Economy and Business in Spain over the last 25 years. In addition to Spain’s profound process of transformation during this period, he stressed the challenges facing Spain’s economy and concluded with a few reflections on the necessary recovery of morals.

On behalf of the Corporation, Juan Velarde Fuertes spoke in praise of the capacities of Juan-Miguel Villar Mir, PhD in Engineering, licensed in Law, and holding degrees from the Economic Development Institute in Washington DC and the School of Industrial Organization; qualified University professor; ex-Vice President of the Government and ex-Minister of the Treasury Department on the first government of the Monarchy, and a fine first-generation businessman who founded a large industrial group by bailing out and consolidating companies undergoing crisis or that have closed.

Juan-Miguel Villar Mir began by underscoring that “my biggest contribution to this Academy most likely resides in the incorporation of the criteria for a businessman, with sensibility and business vision, similar to what other businessmen who, on the merits of their own initiative throughout history, have become full members of the Academy”.

Appropriate economic policy since 2012

Turning to the central topic of his intervention, and in connection with the financial crisis initiated in August of 2007, the Chairman of OHL pointed out that “the crisis took shape in Spain during the socialist government led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which first delayed to acknowledge the existence of the crisis and then failed to adapt the appropriate measures or continue on the path of structural reforms undertaken by previous government regimes run by the Partido Popular that were essential to enable our economy to compete and exit the crisis”.

Under these circumstances, which drove Spain’s public debt up to 11.1% of the GDP in 2009, Juan-Miguel Villar Mir affirmed that: “Reduction of this public debt only began in 2012 and resulting from the efforts undertaken by the current government headed by Mariano Rajoy, dropping to 6.98% in 2012 apart from the influence of the European aid for the banking sector.

The current government under Mariano Rajoy has established an appropriately comprehensive economic policy, converting austerity into one the regime’s main pillars of intervention and adopting the most urgent decisions necessary for tackling the situation, including the reduction of public expenses, employment sector and financial reforms.

Spain’s economy is clearly on a heading for a return to the path of growth; a path that has begun to reappear as we harness the tremendous opportunities existing around the world for our exports”.

The role of the Crown

The Chairman of OHL addressed our current stage of monarchy, democracy and progress, commending the role of the Crown by affirming that: “Despite the multitude of changes in scenarios and all the fluctuations since 1975, any attempt at understanding the positive evolution of Spain without alluding to the key role of the reign of Juan Carlos I would prove impossible.

Regardless of the indicator, the improvement has been spectacular. All of our society’s potentials have been opened or driven.

The roles of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía have been essential for the international prestige of Spain. Through numerous official visits, they have successfully conveyed the modern image of Spain as innovative, creative, serious and a trustworthy ally. Spain’s achievements owe plenty to the discreet yet intense diplomacy of the Royal Family, who have remained faithful in their endeavors to our aspirations and needs.

Their reign already forms part of the most prosperous pages of our history. Spain has never had such an extended period of peace, liberty, prosperity and creativity”.

Reforms, innovation and internationalization

When addressing the challenges facing Spain’s economy and business, Juan-Miguel Villar Mir pointed out that pending reforms “lie primarily in reshaping Public Administration, the energy sector and unifying the marketplace. While these are not the only ones that Spain needs, they nevertheless have direct bearing on business, employment and economic growth”.

In addition, he stressed the need for businesses to chart their course for innovation and internationalization as the “strategic pillars upon which Spain’s economy and businesses should rest”.

“If we remain steady on our resolved course of innovation and internationalization, and if we complete the process of reforming and liberalizing our economic system, Spain should be capable of returning to solid and sustainable growth at average yearly rates that should be no less than 3% as of 2015. And this would mean that the material prosperity index for Spaniards, measured by GDP per capita, would double in the next twenty years”.

The necessary recovery of values

Juan-Miguel Villar Mir concluded his speech with a few reflections on the need to recover values, given that, as he indicated, “the global and Spanish economies, already caught in the grips of the economic and financial crisis, are also being dragged by a substantial crisis in values”.

He offers his opinion in that “the root of our problems to continue maintaining growth and prosperity in a world subject to regular bouts of crisis lies neither solely nor primarily in economic difficulties. In order to contribute to progress in our society, we must use the common good as a reference”.

A common good that, as he explained, should be attained:

  • on the basis of religion, a basic pillar of rules and order in human behavior;
  • on the basis of the family, the essential core of the social body;
  • on the basis of education, encouraging effort, excellence, discipline and respect, reconferring teachers with the authority that had been taken from them, and
  • on the basis of the company, by cultivating actions of Corporate Social Responsibility.

In this context of support and encouragement to Spanish society, Juan-Miguel Villar Mir added that “we cannot overlook two fundamental ideas that should guide all aspects of our lives:

  • we should always serve others, which is what gives us the greatest satisfaction,
  • and we should seek to make others happy, as an ethical requirement of social harmony”.
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