• Spain's news in English
 

Summer love: PM sings praises of economy

Published: 01 Aug 2014 15:37 GMT+02:00

The Spanish economy is recovering "better than expected" and is now among Europe's best performers although it still faces "numerous" problems, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy conceded in Friday's face-to-face with the press.

"Things are going better than we expected. We are registering healthy and diversified growth which is here to stay," he said in his annual end-of-term press conference, where the economy took centre stage and the Catalonia issue only came up in the context of questions from journalists.

A year to the day after Rajoy was forced to defend himself in parliament against claims he knew about a slush fund allegedly operated by former party treasurer Luis Barcenas, Rajoy again avoided the issue of corruption.

READ ALSO: The Local's A–Z of Spanish politics: A handy guide 

The prime minister chose not to speak about cases involving former members of Rajoy's ruling Popular Party in a speech described by new Socialist opposition leader Pedro Sanchéz as "triumphalist and "self-complacent".

"In less than two years we have gone from being an economy on the brink of a bailout to being one of the economies that grows the most in Europe," Rajoy said.

"We are going in the right direction, but we are conscious that there is still much to do and the problems that we must tackle are still numerous."

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on Tuesday the government planned to raise its 2014 and 2015 economic projections in September after stronger-than-expected performance over the last six months.

He said the forecasts are likely to be raised to an expansion of 1.5 percent this year, up from a previous estimate of 1.2 percent, and possibly 2.0 percent next year, up from 1.8 percent.

In 2008 a Spanish property clash plunged the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy into five years of economic and financial turmoil.

Spain faced pressure to seek a full financial bailout from the eurozone in 2012. In the end it got by with €41 billion euros ($55 billion) to rescue its banks.

Spain technically exited its second recession in five years in mid-2013.

The Spanish economy expanded by a better-than-expected 0.6 percent, up from growth of 0.4 percent in the first quarter with the government crediting its reforms to the banking system and labour market for the stronger growth.

But unemployment, while starting to fall, remains sky-high.

The latest unemployment data showed the jobless rate edged below 25.0 percent in April-June for the first time since the third quarter of 2012. But at 24.47 percent, it remains one of the highest in the industrialized world.

Catalonia 

The issue of Catalonia's planned November 9th vote on the issue of independence came up on Friday only during the question time that followed Rajoy's summary of events of recent months.

"The prime minister is obliged to comply with the law," and the vote is illegal," said Rajoy of his meeting earlier this week with Catalan leader Artur Mas.

"My position is the law, but I will enter into dialogue as well.

"I don't know what will happen on November 9th. But I know that Mr Mas has said he won't do anything illegal. I hope that is the case."

Artur Mas, who has headed the Catalan government since 2010, has called for a November 9th referendum to test popular support in the region for the idea of independence from the rest of Spain.   

Rajoy has insisted that the vote would be illegal since under Spain's constitution referendums on sovereignty must be held nationally and not regionally. He has vowed to block any referendum.

However, Mas insisted on Wednesday he wanted the vote to go ahead.

"I told him that we are absolutely determined, as I told him a year ago, to hold the consultation," Mas said.

"We have the determination and the political strength, but we would like to hold (the vote) in a legal manner and with the backing of the State, British-style," he said, in reference to an upcoming vote in the UK on the issue of independence for Scotland.

"This is still not possible yet but we will keep trying. We don't have an agreement but the climate of dialogue is now open," the Catalan leader added.

With an economy that is roughly the size of Portugal's, Catalonia and its 7.5 million inhabitants — 16 percent of the Spanish population — have long been an engine for the country as a whole.

But a growing number of Catalans resent the redistribution of their taxes to other parts of Spain and believe the region would be better off on its own.

The 2008 real estate crash that triggered a five-year economic downturn across Spain and a 2010 decision by Spain's constitutional court to water down a 2006 statute giving the region more powers have added to the growing pressure for secession.

Support for independence itself was about 45 percent in April, according to the regional government's most recent poll. That compares with about 20 percent in October 2010 before Mas took office.

For more stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ban on skyscraper plan for Atletico stadium
The VIcente Calderon stadium on the banks of the river in Madrid. Photo: Javier Soriano / AFP

Ban on skyscraper plan for Atletico stadium

A Spanish court has blocked plans to build 2,000 flats on the site of Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon stadium. READ  

Dancing deputy kicks up her heels at Seville fair
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, who was filmed dancing at Seville's April Fair this week. Photo: AFP

Dancing deputy kicks up her heels at Seville fair

It seems no one can resist the fun of Seville's April fair, not even deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, who was filmed getting her groove on this week. READ  

Is Spanish politics all about stripping off?
A Socialist town hall candidate has been ordered to take down campaign posters in which he appears naked. Photo: laSexta Noticias/Twitter

Is Spanish politics all about stripping off?

Yet another Spanish politician has bared all on a campaign poster, in a trend that is increasingly sweeping Spanish politics. READ  

Shocking footage of police beating deportee
Screen grab: Campaña CIEs / Youtube

Shocking footage of police beating deportee

A video filmed secretly by a passenger shows Spanish police beating up a man being deported against his will from Madrid to the Dominican Republic. READ  

Dolphins affected in Canary Islands oil spill
A Greenpeace environmentalist at the oil slick off Gran Canaria. Photo: Greenpeace / Pedro Armestre

Dolphins affected in Canary Islands oil spill

An oil slick has reached Canary Islands beaches from the Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov which sank off the Canary Islands earlier last week. READ  

Eurovision Song Contest
Face of the week: Edurne
Photo: Flickr/YourWayMagazine

Face of the week: Edurne

Could this be the year Spain wins Eurovision for only the third time since the contest began? Spain's fate rests with Edurne, the blonde bombshell who is hoping to enrapture Europe with her pop power ballad, Amanecer. READ  

A quarter of Spaniards believe Sun orbits Earth
Photo of a scientist: Shutterstock

A quarter of Spaniards believe Sun orbits Earth

A new study into Spaniards' scientific awareness has revealed they have some serious gaps in their knowledge. READ  

Spain rejects extradition of 'London Whale' trader
A man walks past JP Morgan Chase Building in New York. Andrew Burton / Getty Images N America / AFP

Spain rejects extradition of 'London Whale' trader

Spanish authorities have refused to extradite a former JPMorgan bank trader to the United States where he faces criminal charges in the massive "London Whale" fraud scandal. READ  

Pamplona sees red over 'Strictly Come Running'
Participants in Pamplona's famous running of the bulls. Photo: AFP.

Pamplona sees red over 'Strictly Come Running'

Ernest Hemingway would have turned in his grave over plans for a celebrity reality TV show based on Pamplona's famous San Fermin fiesta. READ  

Femen protestor corners Spain's interior minister
A femen protestor being arrested by police on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Femen protestor corners Spain's interior minister

A protestor with radical feminist protest group Femen was arrested on Thursday morning after staging a bare breasted protest against Spain's new controversial "gagging law". READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
King Juan Carlos led 'double-life' with lover
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Travel
Benidorm: Cultural wonder of the world?
Features
Ten best UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain
Features
All the fun of the fair: Seville's Feria de Abril
Features
Happy book day! Top ten Spanish literary gifts
National
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
First house sold by lottery ticket in Spain
National
Official: Francisco Franco was a dictator
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
National
Olives and vino at risk from climate change
National
Olé! Madonna orders tour bullfighting suits
National
Jihadists planned attacks in Spain: judge
Politics
Spain's 'Citizens' party fires up voters
Travel
'No pooing': village tells pilgrims in north Spain
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
National
Spain gets first memorial stones to Nazi victims
National
What's on in Spain: April 2015
National
Town in shock at expat double murder
National
Brit family of four dead after Gibraltar stabbing
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl
National
Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?
National
Spain outstrips France and Italy in wine exports
National
What country is Catalonia most like?
International
Exposed: actress who faked Oscar glory
National
Brooms up! Quidditch casts its spell over Spain
Society
Ten phrases you'll only hear at work in Spain
International
Spanish crowned world's happiest language
National
Eight cool things the crisis did for Spain
Travel
Top Ten: Spain's best beaches for 2015
National
Euro property bargains up for grabs in Spain
What's On
Spain's craziest carnivals
National
Spanish town fights 'Fifty Shades' bondage hotel
International
Vinnie Jones teaches Spanish in hilarious ad
What's On
Ten golden rules for snagging a Spanish man
Property
House sales up for first year since crisis began
Gallery
The highs and lows of the Spanish property market
National
The five strangest things about Spaniards
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,278
jobs available