The European Family Business Summit from Madrid, marked by the concern for the recognition of the socioeconomic importance of family businesses in Europe

The sixth edition of the EUROPEAN FAMILY BUSINESS SUMMIT, which was held between the 19th and the 20th of November 2019 in Madrid, was the perfect occasion for the representatives of prestigious companies, of European family business associations and the representatives of the authorities to discuss the challenges of this important business segment at length.

Within the event, Family Business Network Romania was represented by Mrs Anca Vlad, CEO of Fildas-Catena Group, a member of the Board of Directors of FBN Romania, and by Mrs Mihaela Harsan, Secretary General of the Association.

The summit benefitted from the extraordinary participation of the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, who emphasized the importance of family enterprises in the implementation of critical changes within the economy, as well the importance of their social function. “Family enterprises are close to people and, consequently, they are capable of promoting the values we need – an economy serving people, instead of just the necessary financial logics”. He added that European family enterprises and the Spanish government also agree that “Europe is the forum we all belong to”, expressing his hope to finalize this project in order to render it competitive in relation to the other world powers, without losing sight of its essence, which is social market economy.

Pedro Sánchez believes that European economy faces international commercial tensions and the consequences of Brexit, and these threats require responses from the authorities, to protect legal certainty, to enable the opening of the external markets and to set up strategic frameworks stimulating the sectors of the future. The Spanish prime minister emphasized that the uncertainties related to the investors’ and consumers’ trust must be eliminated.

Within the Summit, where approximately 200 entrepreneurs from all over Europe were present, a series of issues were analyzed, which family businesses are facing against an increasingly complex and continuously evolving economic context. Thus, one of the debated subjects referred to “The settlement of an issue versus the Management of a paradox” from the point of view of analyzing success regarded as “the art of managing paradox”, given that the manager of a family business must permanently face the challenge of finding balance between passion and reason, between prudence and boldness, between innovation and tradition.

Another topic tackled by the entrepreneurs present at the event was the socio-emotional value of family businesses, and the issue was raised whether socio-emotional involvement is a competitive advantage of family companies. The response provided by the president of the Family Business Institute Spain, Francisco Riberas, was that the socio-emotional competitive advantage is particularly visible in times of crisis when, due to their desire to keep the employees, business-owning families assume the risk and continue to invest. This is proven by the situation registered in the period 2001-2010, when large and family-owned medium-sized companies registered an 8.7% increase, whereas public companies only grew by 3.03%.

Within the Summit, Marijke Mars, a Board member of the company Mars Inc. (4th generation, the Netherlands) beautifully pleaded for sustainability, indicating the actions she took within the company and making recommendations based on her extensive experience and on a one-billion euro investment into environmental protection. Presentations were also given by Udo Vetter, President of Vetter Pharma Fertigung GmbH & Co (2nd generation, Germany), Francisco J. Riberas, Executive President Gestamp (Spain), Jens Fiege, shareholder in the Fiege Logistik Gruppe (Germany), Ingrid Faber, CEO Faber Halbertsma Group (the Netherlands), and Lionelsi Jesús Casado, Secretary General of European Family Businesses Spain, among others.

The event was also marked by the presence of Manuel Valls, former Prime Minister of France, and José Luis Martínez-Almeida, Mayor of Madrid.

The numerous assistance, the prominent guests and the sponsors of the event confirmed the importance and the viability of family businesses and the need to support them by means of an adequate legislation.