SIXSeoul13 Day 1: City Talk Bilbao/Basque Case - Gorka Espiau
The Bilbao/Basque case
Gorka Espiau Idoiaga.
Bilbao and the Basque land,
at the heart of Europe
Bilbao and the Basque Country was suffering only 40
years ago the consequences of a cruel dictatorship, a
deep economic crisis, the highest unemployment figures
in Europe and a violent conflict.
The Basque Country is one of the EU leading territories
according to the UN Human Development Index (GDP
31.000€per capita,+literacy 80% high education+ womens life
Today, Bilbao is internationally recognized as a successful
case of socio economic transformation.
This transformation was possible due to a comprehensive
strategy based on public/private partnership, endogenous
reactivation of the economy and social innovation.
80’s: TOUGH economic, social and
collapse of basic industries
80’s: triumph of the neo-liberal focus
in the world context: “the best
industrial policies are the ones that
30 YEARS FOR A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION
1980: beginning of
IN THIRTY YEARS EUSKADI HAS
BECOME A NEW COUNTRY.
FROM A DECADENT AND OBSOLETE
ECONOMY, IT'S TURNED INTO A POTENT,
VENTURESOME AND COMPETITIVE
CENTER OF BUSINESS
• GDP has grown during the
last decade above that of
Spain and the EU
• 75% of production is
exported (50% in medium/
high technology products)
• Unemployment has
• First in Spain in terms of
income per capita
• Above the European
average in terms of income
per capita (136 /100)
DURING THE 80's, THE
UNDERWENT A PROCESS OF
Keys to understand this transformation:
1st phase: 1980s “Learn to compete”.
2nd phase: 1990s “Learn to compete and
cooperate” Public/Private partnerships.
3rd phase: 2000-2010 “Learn to innovate in
cooperation” A new ecosystem for social innovation.
in the past
• Economy of scale
• Centralised and unique
industrial and regional
• The best industrial policy: the
one that does not exist
• Complete separation/
• Exclusive Picking winners
• “Viva el
MERCADO” (prominence to
• Tripartite competition: USA-
• Free rein to International
What we believed in
… and did
• Interdependence, small is
beautiful, posible and essential
• De-concentration of regionalised
• “Comprehensive” strategy for
competitiveness in solidarity
• Public-private and public-public
• All industry matters
• Transformed public leadership,
with committed participation of
• Multiple competition / New players
• Guiding principle: each country is
unique. Its own and differentiated
Gorka Espiau Idoiaga.
Agirre Lehendakaria Center
we decided to build the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.