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TECHNOLOGY

Spain to invest €600 million in artificial intelligence in plan to transform economy

Spain is to invest €600 million ($725 million) in developing artificial intelligence over the next two years as part of plans to transform its national economy, the prime minister said Wednesday.

Spain to invest €600 million in artificial intelligence in plan to transform economy
File photo of robot unveiled at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress in 2017. Photo: AFP

The programme would run from 2021 to 2023, starting with an initial injection of 330 million euros, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.   

Developing artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the main objectives of Spain's digital transformation programme which was announced in July and is part of a plan to transform the Spanish economy.

Sanchez said the aim of the government's AI strategy was to “align Spain with the leading countries involved in the study and use of reliable artificial intelligence for economic and social development as a tool for economic modernisation”.

The idea was “to generate an environment of trust with respect to the development of an artificial intelligence that would be inclusive and sustainable and have the public at its heart”, a government statement added.   

The public investment will be further boosted by a contribution from Spain's Next Tech fund to encourage entrepreneurship in digital technology.    

The public-private initiative will aim to mobilise private funding worth 3.3 billion euros that will be ploughed into AI and the digital economy, Sanchez added.

In early October, Spain unveiled its EU-funded recovery plan aimed at creating over 800,000 new jobs and yanking the country out of its worst economic slump in decades.

The plan will be funded by the 140 billion euros in grants and loans Spain will receive from a massive EU rescue fund, making it one of its biggest beneficiaries along with Italy.

READ MORE:  Spain unveils 'Recovery and Resilience' rescue plan to create 800,000 new jobs

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ECONOMY

Spain’s middle-class youngsters the most likely to end up poor across all EU

Spain leads the ranking of EU countries with the highest risk of young people ending up in poverty as adults, despite coming from families without economic difficulties.

Spain is the fourth EU country with the highest inherited poverty
Spain is EU country with most middle-class young people who end up poor. Photo: Jaime ALEKOS / AFP

Spain is also the fourth EU country with the highest rate of inherited poverty risk, according to Eurostat, the EU Statistical Office.

Data on intergenerational poverty indicates that there is a correlation between the financial situation of the household you grew up in and the risk of being poor when you reach adulthood and in Spain, there is a strong link. 

The latest statistics available from 2019 show that the at-risk-of-poverty rate for the EU was 23 percent among adults aged 25 to 59 who grew up in a poor financial situation at home when they were 14 years old. This is 9.6 percentage points more than those who come from families without financial problems (13.4 percent). 

READ ALSO: Spain’s inflation soars to 29-year high

How the situation in Spain compares with the EU

Spain has become the EU country with the highest risk of poverty among adults who grew up in families with a good financial situation  – 16.6 percent.

This was followed by Latvia with 16 percent and Italy with 15.9 percent.

That statistics also show the countries where it is less likely to be poor after growing up in households without economic difficulties. These include the Czech Republic (5.9 percent), Slovakia (7.9 percent) and Finland (8.5 percent).

The overall poverty rate in the EU decreased by 0.1 percentage points between 2011 (13.5 percent) and 2019 (13.4 percent), but the largest increases were seen in Denmark (1.9 points more), Portugal (1.8 points), the Netherlands (1.7 points) and Spain (1.2 points).  

On the other hand, the biggest decreases in the poverty rate were seen in Croatia (-4 percent), Lithuania (-3.6 percent), Slovakia (-3.5 percent) and Ireland (-3.2 percent).

READ ALSO: Spain’s government feels heat as economic recovery lags

Inherited poverty

The stats revealed that Spain was also the fourth country with the highest rate of inherited poverty risk (30 percent), only behind Bulgaria (40.1 percent), Romania (32.7 percent) and Italy (30.7 percent).

This means that children of poor parents in Spain are also likely to be poor in adulthood. 

The countries with the lowest rate of inherited poverty risk were the Czech Republic (10.2 percent), Denmark (10.3 percent) and Finland (10.5 percent).

The average risk-of-poverty rate for the EU increased by 2.5 percentage points between 2011 (20.5 percent) and 2019 (23 percent), with the largest increases seen in Bulgaria (6 points more), Slovakia and Romania (4.3 points), Italy (4.2 points) and Spain (4.1 points).

The biggest drops were seen in Latvia (-8.5 points), Estonia (-8.0 points) and Croatia (-2.3 points). 

The largest gaps in people at risk of poverty when they reach adulthood were in Bulgaria (27.6 percentage points more among those who belong to families with a poor economic situation as teenagers compared to those who grew up in wealthy households), Romania (17.1), Italy (14.8), Greece (13.5) and Spain (13.4).

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