Economist and lawyer Joaquín Almunia of Spain, a vice president of the European Commission, the EU Executive branch, who is responsible for Competition Policy, will be the speaker at the College of Arts and Sciences graduate student commencement beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday May 21, 2011, at the Westin Copley Hotel.

In his policy-making role, Almunia works to strengthen the European social market economy to create a region where peace and stability reign in an environment of freedom and democracy. He previously was responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs.

His long political career began in 1979, when he was elected to the Spanish Parliament. In 1982, he was the youngest minister of Felipe Gonzalez’s government, serving as minister for Labor and Social Security. He later became minister of Public Administration and spokesperson for the Socialist Parliamentary Group. Almunia became leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE, in 1997 and ran unsuccessfully for prime minister in 2000.

Earlier in his career, Almunia was chief economist of the Union General de Trabajadores, the Spanish trade union affiliated with PSOE.

He is the founder and director of the progressive think tank Laboratorio de Alternativas and was a director of the research program on "Equality and redistribution of income" at the Fundación Argentaria. Almunia was an associate lecturer at the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, where he taught Employment and Social Security Law.

Almunia is a graduate of the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, where he studied Law and Economics. He continued his education at L’École Pratique des Hautes Études de Paris and in the Senior Managers in Government program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He will receive the honorary Doctor of Economics.