The Financial Crisis and its Effects on the Real Economy
Date: 14 December 2012
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP opened this seminar with a thought provoking speech on the state of the UK economy and how Britain compares to France. Chief Executive of EDF Energy, Vincent de Rivaz followed with a passionate case for nuclear energy in order to meet the UK’s future energy demands. Both speeches provoked much debate and set the tone for a vibrant conference in Newcastle – Gateshead. Participants analysed the impact of the financial crisis in the regions outside of London and Paris and, with both countries currently struggling with high youth unemployment, participants were keen to tackle the issue of improving skills amongst the young and to promote the value of apprenticeships.
Christian Pierret, a former Minister for Industry, outlined his thoughts on the much talked about Gallois report which is pressing President Hollande to improve France’s competitiveness.
And indeed the competition theme dominated the conference with both the British and the French examining ways to emulate the success of the German economy and its export market.
On a regional level, the Honorary Consul for France, Dr Andrew Robinson said the North East region was pushing hard to improve its exports to France and beyond. He, with UK Trade and Industry, will be leading a group of local businesses to France in the New Year with the aim of coming back with solid orders.
Around the table there was general consensus, though, that the next year ahead would be tough for both countries. Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford University and Chair of The Big Innovation Centre gave a cutting analysis of the UK’s economic prospects while the French Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Bernard Emié looked to Europe and the current debate over the UK’s membership of the European Union. He said “Our role is to encourage the UK to remain a major partner committed to the European Union. Together we must play an active role to this end, with due respect for everyone but with a clear goal: to ensure Europe is stronger, with our two countries taking the initiative in it. “
The FBC would like to thank UKTI, Gateshead College, Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council for their generous support in facilitating this conference.