Impressions of our trip to Barcelona

Three days of walking the streets of Barcelona and meeting up with Barcelonians by choice, as the local foreigners and expats often like to call themselves. Let’s share some impressions.

My first thought when walking from meeting to appointment was: even though the local elections were 2 weeks later, there were few election signs to be seen in the streets. Quite a relief compared to Belgium in election turmoil.

Secondly: work is not only (still) being done on the Sagrada Familia; the tram route and major traffic arteries are also being tackled. Mobility as a whole, including the port and airport, are constantly under discussion.

CCBLB European Chambers
CCBLB European Chambers

Networking: impressions of Barcelonians by choice

As a member of the CCBLB – Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Barcelona, Olive Operations couldn’t miss the networking event of the various European chambers of commerce in Barcelona.

How nice to see contacts again or meet interesting people for the first time. All people with a heart for Spain and business, and the good life, of course.

Thank you, Ann Helena Remans and other board members, for the organization and warm welcome!

All the foreigners I met are very positive about ’their’ city. ‘Barcelonian by choice’ is a popular expression. In contrast, almost without exception, they are negative about Catalan politics and language struggles. Stories about locals who pertinently continue to speak Catalan to foreigners and refuse to speak Spanish or English are widely heard. Surely this determines to some extent the image people have of the ‘not so friendly Catalans’.

The biggest challenges facing Barcelona right now?

Mercè Conesa Pagès, CEO Of Barcelona Global
Mercè Conesa Pagès, CEO of Barcelona Global

Among others, employment and, surprisingly, decarbonization. The role of the port and airport also remain high on the agenda and remain sensitive issues.

So told us Mercè Conesa Pagès, CEO Of Barcelona Global, an organization that mainly lobbies local authorities and defends the interests of entrepreneurs, foreign talent and companies.

Two years ago, they founded Barcelona & Partners, with a specific mission: to attract key investments, focused on gaming, robotics and urban mobility & sustainability.
Barcelona is clearly making every effort to revitalize business and make itself more attractive. The rivalry with cities such as Madrid and Valencia will be no stranger to this.

Thank you Kring Nederlands Bedrijfsleven Barcelona for organizing this event in the beautiful El Palauet. A very interesting presentation with fine networking afterwards.

What we will remember

Barcelona is working hard to live up to its image as a tech city and international hub again after being hit by the independence struggle. Real estate prices have come down to acceptable levels, but that alone will not be enough to attract more companies back.

An enriching visit that calls for more, that’s what it was. Curious to see what is in store in the coming years and how the rivalry with the other hubs, mainly Madrid and Valencia, Bilbao and Malaga too, will evolve.

Need help to enter the Spanish market? Be sure to contact us for an informal introductory meeting.

Els Van Humbeeck

+32 474.943.186 –