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Europe - [06/17/2008]

Spain and France join forces to face the challenges of globalisation

At a time when Europe has once again become absorbed by the Irish “NO” vote, the Paris-Madrid axis could become decisive in tackling the new challenges of globalisation. Within the framework of the Spain-France Dialogue Forum, the CIDOB Foundation and the French company VEOLIA held work sessions on 16 June which featured participation from experts in the worlds of politics, academia and business, who came together to analyse bilateral cooperation in accordance with three central strategic areas: the economy, business and the environment, research into finance, and the collaboration to create a new bilateral medicine agency. The meeting took place in the Torre Agbar and was chaired by Narcís Serra and Claudie Haigneré, the first European woman astronaut and ex-Minister of Research and European Affairs.

Infrastructures and interconnections in transport, electricity and gas were once again the principal themes with respect to cooperation across the Pyrenees. On the subject of collaboration in research into finance (a subject of great current importance, in light of the search for banking regulations capable of cooling the fever brought on by the sub-prime crisis, and of making such crises easier to forecast), the experts mooted the idea that has become called the "French-Spanish initiative in research on finance", devised with the objective of promoting and funding joint research projects so as to create human capital in the area and to be able to compete with US universities.

The first French-Spanish medicine agency represents the successful expression of a more ambitious strategic objective: that of tipping the balance southwards of the centre of gravity of pharmaceutical research, which is becoming increasingly displaced toward the centre and north of Europe every year. To understand the significance of this step, it is important to remember that unlike other EU countries such as Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany, Spain does not possess bilateral agreements to speed up authorisation to use medicines that are already available in other, more developed markets such as the United States. The Forum specialists agreed to organise, by way of a prior stage, several summer schools over the next two years to assess the strategies necessary for unifying the procedures to be followed in a medicine's journey from the laboratory where it is created to the chemist's shelves.

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