Gregorio de Castro: Europe is an ever growing family

Nationality: Spaniard – born in Galicia
Occupation: Political Assistant to the Director and Policy Advisor at the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion at the European Commission
Family Status: Married and father of 3 children
Hobbies: Cooking, oenology, football, snow-boarding, live music and photography

  • Léelo en Español
  • Another voice from Spain: Gregorio’s sparring partner
  • Deutsche Zusammenfassung
  • Sommaire en français

  • As a Spaniard living in Brussels, would you say it was it love at first sight?
    No, it was not. Brussels is a city that has to grow on you – but it was an immediate romance with the job market and the possibilities that it offered professionally. I did settle here, married and I am living a stable family life together with my 3 children.

    You work for the European Commission. What does Europe mean to you?
    I see Europe as an ever growing family. I believe we are destined to become more integrated. I think that we have learned in the past 5 or 6 years that in time of difficulties, we are able to work together. Despite our differences, we have also showed that we can find a common way forward. That everyone stands firmly behind the project of European integration. I truly believe that it is a project that can only grow in conviction and in size.20131017_2827

    Europe is everywhere and Brussels is just the engine of what Europe should be about.

    You work in the Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs. What does a typical day look like and what are the main projects you are working on?
    There is a great responsibility associated with working in DG Employment at the moment as a result of the worrying state of European labour markets. In my role as policy assistant to the director in charge of employment policies and Europe 2020 (the EU’s growth strategy), most of my time is dedicated to the coordination of the work in the units within our directorate. At present, this mainly concerns fighting youth unemployment and monitoring the implementation of the Council’s Youth Guarantee whereby Member States have committed to providing all young people under the age of 25 with a good quality offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship within four months of registering with an employment service. Other important projects occupying my time include the ongoing reform of the European Employment Services Network (EURES), participating in the workings of the European Semester and Green Jobs. I also often write strategic policy notes, revise briefings and speeches for our Commissioner and follow numerous internal committees.

    You know the European institutions from the inside, so what do you think should be at the top of the EU’s to-do list?
    When I left my home town in Spain to come to Brussels in 1999, my grandmother asked me: ‘So where is it that you are going exactly?’ to which I answered: “Well, I am going to Brussels. I will work there”. I saw her thinking, trying to recall where she knew this city from. And then she remembered: “Brussels, that is where Europe is?” That sentence of my grandmother is stuck in my head on a daily basis, because it is exactly this perception that we have to overcome. We have to show that Brussels is not the place where Europe is. Europe is everywhere and Brussels is just the engine of what Europe should be about.

    Prosperity, Peace, Respect. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!


    Gregorio de Castro: Europa es una familia creciente

    Un español viviendo en Bruselas, acaso fue amor a primera vista?
    En absoluto fue amor a primera vista. Bruselas es una ciudad que cautiva lentamente, lo que si puedo decir es que de inmediato me rendí a las posibilidades profesionales que me ofrecía esta ciudad. Me asenté, me casé y tengo una vida feliz con mi mujer y mis tres hijos.

    Estás trabajando en la Comisión Europea. Qué significa para tí Bruselas?
    Considero que Europa es una familia que crece poco a poco y que un mayor grado de integración es inevitable y deseable. Estos últimos 5-6 años de crisis han demostrado que a pesar de las dificultades y diferencias de opinión Europa es capaz de encontrar soluciones consensuadas y avanzar juntos por un bien común. Creo sinceramente que el proyecto Europeo solo puede crecer en importancia y en tamaño.

    Europa está en todas partes y Bruselas es solo el motor que hace que la UE avance.

    Trabajas en la Dirección General de Empleo y Asuntos Sociales. Cómo es un día cualquiera en la oficina y cuáles son los principales proyectos que llevas?
    La responsabilidad de trabajar en esta Dirección General es muy grande debido a los tiempos que corren y la preocupante situación de mercado laboral Europeo. En mi función de asistente del Director de Políticas de Empleo y Europa 2020 (la estrategia de crecimiento de la UE), la mayor parte del tiempo lo paso coordinando el trabajo de las unidades de nuestra dirección principalmente en materia de empleo juvenil y más concretamente la Iniciativa de la Garantía Juvenil que el Consejo aprobó en 2012 y mediante la cual todos los jóvenes europeos de 18-25 años de edad han de recibir una oferta de educación, formación o empleo a los 4 meses de descolgarse del mercado laboral. Otros proyectos que ocupan mi tiempo son la reforma de la red Europea de Servicios Públicos de Empleo EURES, el ciclo de gobernanza económica conocido como el Semestre Europeo y los empleos verdes. Otras importante labores a las que dedico mi tiempo incluyen la redacción de notas estratégicas, seguimiento de comités internos y externos y revisión de discursos y briefings para nuestro Comisario y Director General.

    Tú conoces las instituciones Europeas desde dentro, en tú parecer cuáles deberían de ser las prioridades de la UE?
    Cuándo dejé España para venir a trabajar a Bruselas en 1999 mi abuela me preguntó, adonde te vas? A lo que yo le contesté ‘me voy a trabajar a Bruselas’ ella se quedó reflexionando un momento y a continuación me dijo ‘ah, sí ese sitio donde está Europa’. Esa frase me quedó grabada en la cabeza ya que debemos a toda costa superar esa percepción que tiene mucha gente de Bruselas. Los que trabajamos en esto hemos de demostrar que Europa está en todas partes y que Bruselas es solo el motor que hace que la UE avance.

    Prosperidad, Paz, Respeto. Europa es nuestro future y depende de nostros mismos.


    José Francisco Morales Calderón: people should vote for the European Parliament!

    Gregorio’s sparring partner
    Name: José Francisco Morales Calderón
    Age: 40
    Profession: Director of Communication and External Relations at the Official Industrial Engineers’ Association of Madrid
    Hobbies: Reading, especially historical fiction and journalism, travelling and everything related to the world of motoring.
    Link with Gregorio de Castro: My relationship with Gregorio is familiar; we are cousins, on some occasions professional and above all friendly. To me he is a role model for EU citizens.

    How is the impact of the European Union felt in Madrid?
    I guess that the EU impacts my life in many ways. I know for example that many national directives are actually EU policies implemented by national governments. But the euro is probably the one thing that had the biggest impact on us all.

    And would you say that it is a positive impact?
    Every country in Europe is different, and that makes it very difficult to find a common policy that suits everyone. That’s why I suppose some people are not so happy to think that decisions are being taken over their heads by distant and anonymous institutions. You have to remember that Spain is on the periphery of Europe. It is easy to create the impression that Brussels is a far-away place. At the same time, the fact that we can all use the same currency, that we are able to travel freely, to work, live and shop anywhere in the EU without real restrictions is certainly an upside. It’s something that makes us feel very much at home in the EU.

    Where could the EU do more?
    I think the EU can still make a lot of progress in certain economic areas. Take car insurance for example. I think it should be possible to get car insurance in France, or to open a bank account in the UK, regardless of where I live. This is especially important for Spain, as these are crucial measures that would really help to improve our competitiveness. I also don’t think it would be a bad thing to decentralise some of the institutions to other EU countries. That would help to dispel the impression that everything is decided in Brussels.

    Is there anything Spain can do to make this happen?
    I think Spain should focus more on what role it wants to play in Europe. Take the EU elections for example. Turnout in Spain is always very low, and the problem is that many Spanish people simply don’t realize just how many important decisions are taken at the European level, and in particular by the European Parliament.

    Free movement of people, Democracy, Inclusiveness. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!


    Gregorio de Castro:Europa ist eine Familie die wächst

    “Europa hat in den vergangenen fünf oder sechs Jahren gezeigt, dass wir auch in schwierigen Zeiten, zusammenarbeiten und Probleme lösen können.”

    Wenn die Stadt Brüssel auch nicht Liebe auf den ersten Blick war, so waren es für den Spanier Gregorio de Castro die vielfältigen Möglichkeiten, hier zu arbeiten.
    Der europabegeisterte Vater von drei Kindern arbeitet in der Generaldirektion für Beschäftigung der Kommission, die in der derzeitigen wirtschaftlichen Krise eine Schlüsselposition einnimmt. Durch seine Arbeit will Gregorio de Castro vermitteln, dass Brüssel nicht der Ort ist, wo “das gemeinsame Europa gebaut wird”. Die Europäische Union kann nur bestehen, wenn sie in allen Mitgliedsländern erfahrbar ist, bewusst mitgetragen und konkret gelebt wird. Brüssel ist für ihn nur der Motor Europas.
    Privat widmet sich der Spanier seiner Familie und zahlreichen Hobbies: neben Kochen, Weinkunde, und Fotografieren begeistert er sich für Fußball und Snowboarden.

    Wohlstand, Frieden, Respekt. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!


    Gregorio De Castro: L’Europe, c’est une famille qui s’agrandit

    “Je crois que l’Europe a appris ces 5 ou 6 dernières années que nous pouvons travailler ensemble pour faire face aux difficultés. Malgré nos différences, nous avons démontré que nous pouvions trouver des solutions communes.”

    Quand il a quitté l’Espagne pour Bruxelles en 1999, Gregorio a tout de suite été séduit par l’éventail des possibilités professionnelles qui s’offraient à lui. Ce père de famille travaille aujourd’hui sur les questions d’emploi, en particulier celui des jeunes. Pour lui, la réussite de l’Union européenne c’est de savoir au quotidien surmonter ses différences pour aborder ensemble les problèmes, et trouver ensemble les solutions. Gregorio se souvient que sa grand-mère associait l’Europe exclusivement à la capitale belge. Mais pour lui l’Europe est partout, et pas plus à Bruxelles qu’ailleurs.

    Prospérité, Paix, Respect. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous !


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