The Círculo de Economía was founded in Barcelona in 1958 with the goal of contributing to the modernisation of Spanish economic, social and political life. Since its origins it has been characterised by its spirit of defence of Spain’s internal liberalisation and openness, and for its manifest desire to bring Spain into what was then called the European Economic Community, established by the Treaty of Rome signed a year earlier, in 1957.
The Círculo began at the Club Comodín, a university space that, since 1951 and in the form of a chess club, fostered the meeting of a group of young Barcelona businessmen. In the early 1950s, the Club was a unique place of open debate in the closed atmosphere of Spain at the time.
The intellectual influence that Professor Jaume Vicens Vives had on a group of those young businessmen at the Club Comodín led to the founding of the Círculo. Additionally, Vicens Vives put them in contact with young university professors, such as Fabián Estapé, and with high-ranking experts in government, some of them residents of Madrid, who were innovating the autarkical, protectionist economic political thought of the period and contributing to the preparation of what would become the Stabilisation Plan, economic liberalisation and trade openness of 1959.
So from the very start, this combination of people from the business world, academia, and government who sought an open economy within a democratic society made the Círculo a singular place of dialogue and freedom.
One expression of that spirit of dialogue was the Reuniones Costa Brava, now called the Reuniones Círculo de Economía, which are celebrated annually in Sitges. Begun in 1961, they are a unique meeting place in Spain, bringing together people from the Círculo’s three spheres. With the arrival of democracy, many of the speakers invited to these Reuniones, along with members of the Círculo, all from their own political positions, took on highly relevant political responsibilities.
That diversity of ideological and political sensibilities at the heart of the Círculo is precisely the attribute that continues to define the institution today, and best guarantees its independence from partisanship.
Since its active role in the stabilisation, liberalisation and trade opening process of 1959, the Círculo has continued promoting and supporting initiatives and proposals that contribute to the modernisation of the economy and society, and to the consolidation of Spain’s democracy. Its spirit of dialogue and social innovation has given the Círculo its credibility in Spain since the 60s. Those values continue to be very deeply rooted in the personality and life of the organisation.
The Círculo’s trajectory since its founding is well documented in the books “Círculo de Economía 1958-1983. Una trayectoria de modernización y convivencia”, published to celebrate its 25th anniversary, and “El largo camino a Europa. 50 años del Círculo de Economía,” which gathers its history up to the year 2008.