Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took part in the 60th anniversary of the Breakfast News at Europa Press. At this forum, he defended the “unquestionable message of political certainty and stability” that the approval of the Budget would mean. He also underlined that without respect for the law, “there can be no wealth” and that the negative economic consequences caused by the crisis in Catalonia can still be turned around.
Rajoy began his speech by referring to the consequences of the “unprecedented crisis” that “went on for five years”, that “shed almost 10% of our wealth” and in which 3.8 million jobs were lost. He pointed out that the economic upheaval was of “such a scale” that “talking about overcoming the crisis” seemed “like an exercise in mere positive thinking”.
Optimism regarding future
Rajoy underlined that Spain not only managed to turn the crisis situation around but that the indicators now “show a panorama of a healthy economy and one that is expanding”. He highlighted such noteworthy figures as four straight years of economic growth in Spain of above 3% and that exports account for one third of GDP.
According to Rajoy “there is a clear horizon of certainty and prosperity that the Spanish people will be able to enjoy in the near future”. In his opinion, “if we continue doing things well”, the economic situation will continue “to significantly improve in the coming months and years”.
According to forecasts, the economy will grow by at least 2.5% per annum until the year 2020, unemployment will fall to 11% (2019 could close with 20 million people in work), the public deficit will drop to below 3% (Spain will be able to exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure and achieve budget balance), and finally, the public debt will fall to 91% by the year 2020.
However, Rajoy clarified that “the goal is not only to recover wealth and lost jobs”, but also to “guarantee our model of well-being and social protection”, since “it is not possible to develop a social policy without resources and resources can only come from a healthy and prosperous economy”. At any event, Rajoy argued that in order to achieve this goal, the formula is to continue down the path of budget stability and reforms.
Sustained and inclusive economic growth
In this regard, he added that “it is essential” and “now a priority” to approve “the General State Budget for 2018 as soon as possible” because this would send out “an unquestionable message of political certainty and stability in the country”. “I am optimistic and will devote all my efforts to achieving this goal”, he added.
Rajoy pointed out that it will also be necessary to take new measures to boost job creation – because this is an “element that is fundamental in any policy to combat inequality” – to improve the functioning of the market by eliminating administrative burdens – the recent approval of the Annual Regulatory Plan of Central Government is designed along these lines – to support entrepreneurial activity and to make progress on the digital agenda.
Rajoy highlighted that “we know what needs to be done in order to guarantee the sustained and inclusive growth of our economy in the coming years”. “A plan exists”, he added, “to improve the standard of living of our next generation, but above all to offer coming generations a better country in which to carry out their life projects”.
In relation to the situation caused in Catalonia, Rajoy firstly advocated two principles that he described as “pre-political”: legal certainty and the rule of law. He pointed out that these principles should “be beyond all discussion” because they are what protect political debate and guarantee that this “unfolds in a framework of co-existence, fair play and respect for the rights of everyone”.
After stressing that “without the law you cannot have a free society”, Rajoy added that “without respect for the law you cannot have legal certainty or liberty, and without these you cannot have wealth”. On this point, he recalled the 3,000 companies that have left Catalonia recently, “fleeing from upheaval and legal uncertainty”.
According to his explanation, one of the reasons that led the government to trigger Article 155 of the Constitution was “to bring an end to the serious economic downturn” in Catalonia. At any event, he remarked that this damage “can be swiftly turned around” if, as from 21 December, a new era opens up in Catalonia and “the policy of constant challenge and disobedience” is definitively overcome.
Rajoy also highlighted that although the government has lowered the growth forecasts for next year, the situation can change if normality is recovered. In other words, Spain will once again grow by 3%, as it did in the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Before ending his speech, Rajoy gave a few words of praise for Spanish society because “it has shown that it can come out of apparently impossible situations, and it has done so with vigor and determination”. It did so through the Transition, by joining Europe, by avoiding the bailout of the country and “we have just defended our model of co-existence from one of the most serious attacks it has ever been subjected to”, he added.