Bosses criticise energy sector at Blair-Zapatero summit

4th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

4 October 2006, MADRID — Bosses of leading British and Spanish companies used a meeting on Wednesday with British premier Tony Blair and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to attack over-regulation in the European energy sector.

4 October 2006

MADRID — Bosses of leading British and Spanish companies used a meeting on Wednesday with British premier Tony Blair and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to attack over-regulation in the European energy sector.

Blair was in Madrid for a two-day summit with Zapatero when a breakfast meeting was held with the bosses of leading British and Spanish companies on Wednesday. 

Among the company chiefs at the meeting were Emilio Botín, president of Banco Santander, José Manuel Entrecanales, of building firm Acciona, Rafael del Pino, of Ferrovial, César Alierta, of Telefonica, Ignacio Sánchez Galán of energy fiant Iberdrola and Luis del Rivero, of building firm Sacyr Vallehermoso.

Earlier, Blair hailed Zapatero's efforts to promote a peace process in the Basque region.

Blair said while the process will be a long and arduous one, it is worth the effort.

The British prime minister completed his two-day summit in Madrid on Wednesday with a meeting with the executives from leading Spanish and British companies.

Blair offered his support at a joint press conference in Madrid after he and Zapatero met privately for more than 90 minutes.

The Spanish premier in turn thanked Blair for the "very useful" advice the British leader has offered on the basis of his own country's experience in forging a truce between the IRA and Protestant paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.

Zapatero said he and Blair have held a number of discussions about Madrid's efforts to secure the demobilization of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, which has killed more than 800 people in its nearly four-decade-long campaign for an independent Basque state in parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Blair pointed to the "many ups and downs and difficulties" of seeking peace and stressed the need for "patient determination".

"Resolving these very long-standing issues is very difficult work," said the British prime minister, adding that "there can sometimes appear to be a blockage or you can get diverted off the path - but this is a natural part of the process".

Blair said that peace can be achieved if all parties share a commitment to making progress.

"It does happen if you do your best to move forward," he said, highlighting that in Northern Ireland progress had been made once "there was leadership prepared to take risks."

Zapatero said that despite the inevitable setbacks described by Blair, his efforts to settle the Basque conflict will continue.

Turning to other matters, the leaders expressed agreement that the European Union must do more to confront the problem of immigration.

They said the external borders of the 25-member EU should be rendered "impermeable" and that Europe should foster economic development in the emigrants' homelands, especially in Africa.

So far this year, nearly 25,000 Africans have sailed to Spain's Canary Islands, straining the capacity of the archipelago to handle the influx.

As evidence of warm bilateral relations, both men cited a recent accord on commercial air travel and other matters affecting Gibraltar, the British Crown Colony off the southern tip of Spain.

Zapatero stressed that London, Madrid and the local administration in Gibraltar had reached agreements on practical issues without any of the parties' having to compromise their positions on the thorny issue of sovereignty over the Rock, which is claimed by both Spain and Britain.

"Gibraltar demonstrates, once again, that dialogue is the best route to achieve positive results," the Spanish prime minister said.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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