November 23rd, 2011
05:59 PM GMT
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(CNN) – Turn on CNN, open the ‘papers, check your emails. If you hadn’t noticed yet, the European economy is pretty close to crumbling around us. Or is it?

Meet the shining stars of the European business world and the big picture is more boom than doom. At least that was the message we got at the European Business Awards in Barcelona.

The Marketplace Europe team headed to Barcelona for the Awards ceremony this week. The event is designed to showcase innovation, drive and resourcefulness from companies of all sizes, nationalities and sectors around Europe.

So far, so predictable. But what made it more than just another date in the November “events season” diary was that we weren’t baffled by power-point presentations or bored with a load of corporate-speak. We were buoyed by the upbeat mood.

As the EU Trade Commissioner, Karel de Gucht, (pictured above) said “We are down, but not out”.

He said this year in particular, it was more important than ever to show solidarity with companies in Europe who are making a go of it while the markets are so volatile. He moved trade talks meetings in Brussels to be at the European Business Awards.

There, we met mattress makers from Turkey, brewers from Greece, UK telecoms start-ups and courier services from Germany, all keen to talk about how they are nurturing and growing their businesses in tough economic times.

Turkish Human Resources company Global Bilgi says winning Employer of the Year will really motivate their teams.

Taxi G7, the century-old Parisian cars firm, walked off with the Award for Consumer Focus, delighted that their strategy, of always putting the customer first, was being recognized by their peers.

A younger firm, Maesa Group, scored Entrepreneur of the Year. Started from scratch by two French graduate friends in 1997, the firm spotted a gap in the market for customized beauty products and packaging. Thinking outside of the box, creating a niche in the competitive global cosmetics market, has helped the company grow into a $100 million business with global reach.

From a scramble to get a couple of hundred companies to compete in the early days, now in its fifth year, the team at the European Business Awards HQ in London are now inundated with thousands of applications from companies keen to share their success stories. The combined turnover of this year’s entrants tots up to $1.4 trillion. It feels like what you get is a snapshot of what is really going on in Europe, from Armenia to Italy, from Germany to Kazakhstan.

While policymakers seem to flit between bickering, denial and passing the buck on the debt crisis and more, European companies, in and around the EU are making stuff, exporting stuff and all the while turning a profit with happy customers in tow.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Bruno

    What is CNN thinking. Europe has some of the largest globally operating companies on the face of the earth. It has Economies with better education, better infrastructure, lower debt then the US. Just look at countries like Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Great Britain. Even a country like Italy is one of the largest Economies on Earth. To pretend everything is down is preposterous. CNN stop viewing things from a US perspective or you will never be able to provide accurate news about the world.

    November 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  2. Bruno

    I am wrong. Kick me hard.

    November 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  3. jc

    dear sir
    I know you were not responsible for this but as I am new to this I am hoping you will forward it to those who are. This morning cnn had a so called expert on the show advising a person on what they should do on thier house that was worth less then they owed on it. His comment that they should do whatever was best for them was totally junival and unresponsible. That attiitude is what has got our country into the mess we are in today. Whatever happened to commentment,honor,personal responsibilty,and living up to an agrement. If I were this persons employer or had investments with him I would get rid of him as soon as possible because when things get tough he is going to forget about them and do whatever is best for him.

    November 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  4. EA Marco Polo

    the European economy is pretty close to crumbling around us.


    Some European economies are facing serious problem, but some others European countries are OK.

    November 27, 2011 at 3:28 am |
  5. EA Marco Polo

    The US economy is close to dangerous situation, too. Obama borrows 9% of GDP (1.3 trillion deficit), but the economy is just growing 2%. Obama administration is making wrong optimistic message.

    In conscience, the US President, Congresspersons, social leaders and media should make serious warning on US deficit: now Italy is a severe lesson to the US.

    Economy has its mechanism; it could be worried after the Federal debt to pass 120% of GDP (about 4 years), the US would down; similar to current Italy.

    November 27, 2011 at 3:29 am |
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