SHARE
COPY LINK

EUROPE

Spanish MPs unite for EU economic showdown

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will arrive in Brussels on Wednesday for a key economic policy meeting of the European Council buoyed by the knowledge that he has the unprecedented backing of over 90 percent of Spain's MPs.

Spanish MPs unite for EU economic showdown
The deal was agreed by the leaders of Spain's two main parties last week before being discussed in parliament. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

Thursday's meeting in the Belgian capital will be the first time that Rajoy has entered a  European summit with such a clear mandate from across the national political spectrum.

Spain's cross-party resolution on the position the country would take at the crucial summit received overwhelmingly backing, with 317 of 350 MPs giving the motion the thumbs up, according to national daily El País on Tuesday.

At the summit, EU leaders will thrash out issues including putting an end to the fragmentation of Europe's financial markets, promoting youth employment and increasing the funds of the European Investment Bank made available to small and medium-sized companies.

"We wanted the proposals to reflect the real needs of the Spanish economy because of the lack of funding for SMEs, and they have done so," said Josep Sánchez Llibre of Catalonia's centre-left's CiU party, explaining his vote in favour of the resolution.

Pedro Azpiazu of the Basque National Party said: "It's important to tell Europe that we have to reorient economic policy: austerity measures alone are not enough to escape the crisis."

The cross-party deal was originally thrashed out between Prime Minister Rajoy and the leader of Spain's Socialist opposition, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

Several minority parties complained of feeling snubbed after the two leaders reached an agreement last week.

No representatives of the ruling Popular Party (PP) were present in parliament on Tuesday when the minority parties discussed the resolution.

Irene Lozano of centre-left Spanish nationalist party Union, Progress and Democracy noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended parliament whenever Europe was discussed while in Spain there was not a single minister present, even as a spectator, during the debate over a resolution presented as a state pact.

But she added: "It is not a state pact but a simple non-legal proposition."

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

WORKING IN SPAIN

‘Hard to stay afloat’: Is working for an English language academy in Spain worth it?

It's the go-to work option for countless anglophones in Spain, but is teaching at an English language academy still enough to pay the bills in a climate of rising prices, stagnant wages and a shift to online learning platforms?

'Hard to stay afloat': Is working for an English language academy in Spain worth it?

Traditionally seen as a type of gap-year experience for recent graduates and/or those seeking adventure before settling down to a more traditional career path, English language teaching in Spain has becoming increasingly popular as a long-term career.

A high quality of life, a more favourable climate and generally lower living costs have always made Spain a popular destination for English language teachers, with Spain posting the highest number of job advertisements for teachers among European countries.

As a result, many of those working in the industry see it as somewhere to further both their professional and personal lives.

However, poor job security, stagnant salaries and issues surrounding the long-term sustainability of language academies have plagued the sector for years.

The recent impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current rise in inflation has further compounded these issues, with many teachers considering their long-term careers in Spain.

Teachers working for private language academies in large cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla can expect to earn between €800 to €1,400 a month after tax for about 20 to 30 hours of class time per week.

One teacher told The Local Spain that despite working as a profesor de inglés for almost a decade, his academy salary had gone down dramatically in real wage terms, following a salary cut during the pandemic which made it “hard to keep my head above water”.

“I was working as a teacher for nine years but felt the need to leave the profession as the hours I needed to work were affecting my mental health. During my first three years in Spain, I was able to get by on my salary. Since then, I have increased the number of private classes gradually, I save the same a month as I did when I first moved here, but have to work an extra eight hours a week to be in that situation”.

READ ALSO: The pros and cons of being an English language assistant in Spain

As of 2022, the minimum monthly salary stands at €1,166 gross for a 40-hour working week, meaning that someone working as an English teacher can expect to earn more or less the minimum wage based on their contact hours, with many opting to teach privately in order to supplement their income.

In addition to this, most teachers are hired on short-term indefinido contracts, meaning that they only earn a monthly salary for nine months of the year, resulting in many taking on summer work to maintain a year-round monthly income.

While short-term informal contracts and a relatively manageable monthly salary may have appealed to single, twenty-somethings seeking a few years of fun and adventure in Spain, for those looking to support a family or get on the property ladder the precarious economic reality of English language teaching has seen many reconsider their long-term career goals.

“I rented when I initially moved here but now I’m paying off a mortgage which has gone up due to interest rate rises,” another English teacher told The Local Spain. 

A traditionally in-person industry, the pandemic forced many academies online and, due to increased competition from online language learning platforms along with a paradigm shift in terms of hybrid and remote study and work, academies have struggled to replace students lost to this new language learning environment.

As a result of this, some teachers have seen their weekly teaching hours reduced as academies simply cannot guarantee a full schedule, putting further financial pressure on teachers.

teaching english spain

Poor job security, stagnant salaries and issues surrounding the long-term sustainability of language academies have been plaguing the industry for years in Spain. Photo: Thirdman/Pexels

One teacher with over seven years working experience for a large English academy in Madrid told The Local that “a few years ago our company began the long process of trying to cut our supplements and basic wage”.

“We were backed up by our comité, (representative group) but after about a year of negotiations, reductions (and redundancies) were made. At the time it cut about €250 from my meagre wages.”

As is the case across Europe, the level of inflation in Spain has risen sharply to about 10.5 percent as of September 2022. Combined with rising energy prices, more and more teachers are finding it increasingly difficult to live off a salary in some cases of just over €1,000 a month.

With the average cost of renting a room ranging from €400 to €500 in large cities, some teachers are choosing to cut costs in terms of their living standards to make their salaries stretch further.

Another teacher told The Local how “while I still go out at the weekend and buy the food I want at supermarkets, the increase in rental prices has meant that I’ve stayed in a less-than-ideal room, rather than finding a better room – due to not wanting to pay significantly more in rent”.

While the challenges facing English teachers in Spain are not unique to their line of work, this latest set of drawbacks should be factored in by anyone considering making a move here or teaching long-term.

Such economic realities are difficult to ignore, but that’s not to say there isn’t a lot English teaching can offer someone looking to gain some valuable work and life experience while also enjoying the hustle and bustle of life in Spain.

Article by Cormac Breen

SHOW COMMENTS