Category Archives: European Union

Rubalcaba takes his fight to Brussles

As the crisis in the Eurozone rumbles on, and Italy teeters on the brink of economic disaster, threatening to pull Spain with it, you would expect the issue of Europe andSpain’s relationship with the EU to be at the centre of the main parties’ electoral campaigns.

Socialist candidate Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba has sketched out how he believes the Government should deal with its EU partners. Continuing the quasi-aggressive theme of his campaign (his electoral slogan is “Fight for what you want!”), he said he would “go to Brussels to fight and convince, and not to receive orders… I want to defend the interests of the country inBrussels– Rajoy has never done it and never will.”

Listening to Rubalacaba you would think his party belonged to one of the European Parliament’s political groups fighting for a looser union and a return of powers to Member States.

Rather the PSOE in the European Parliament recently voted to maintain first class travel for all MEPs despite the economic crisis, and one of their Members was caught signing in to claim her daily allowance and then heading straight to the airport to return to Spain. Well, at least his MEPs have listened to his slogan – they are clearly fighting for what they want.

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Aznar warns Eurozone faces break-up because of “bad decisions”

Former Prime Minister of Spain, José María Aznar, has warned that the European Union is facing a severe and profound crisis because of the “very bad decisions” taken by its leaders in recent years.

Speaking in Washington, the former conservative premier who served between 1996 and 2004 said: “Europe is going through a very deep crisis, but we are capable or coming out of it. There is a serious risk that the European Union as we know it today could be unsustainable [because of] very bad decisions taken in recent years”.

The “wrong decisions” of the EU which Aznar alluded to were:

–    Tying itself up in endless institutional debates which have impeded the ability to see the economic reality clearly.

–    Forgetting necessary compromises and not respecting established rules and procedures.

–    Ignoring the seriousness and the depth of the economic crisis.

These errors, Aznar suggested, could lead to the possible “disintegration” of the Eurozone.

His speech can be read in full here (available only in Spanish)

Duran: Obama’s comments are irresponsible

Spain’s political leaders have been reacting to President Obama’s comments this morning.

Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida (pictured), spokesman of the CiU in Congress, has been particularly outspoken about his views on the US premier’s earlier remarks. President Obama’s suggestion that Spain was the Eurozone’s next big problem was “not the most responsible thing to do,” Duran said this afternoon.

He added: “All leaders should be responsible in moments as delicate as this. I do not believe that President Obama is in the best position to give lessons to the rest of the world, because the North American economy also has a very significant deficit.”

The spokesman for the PP in Congress, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, was less critical of Obama, although politely reminded him that those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. She said: “In the PP we want Spain to turn the page on the convulsions and uncertainties that we have been living through these past months, and I imagine that Mr Obama himself wants the same for the United States”.

Obama fears Spain could be Eurozone’s next “big problem”

All eyes are on the economy again in Spainthis morning. The news that Greece may not have enough money left to pay public sector workers and pensions has caused panic in the markets.

Particularly badly affected was the Spanish Ibex stock exchange, which tumbled as Greece’s admission about their financial nightmare led to panic.

The flames of worry have been fanned somewhat by the President of the United States, Barack Obama (above), who has warned that the sovereign debt crisis in Spain poses a “great problem” to the Eurozone’s recovery. He rightly urged the Eurozone members to act fast to seek a common economic policy and deeper fiscal integration to deal with the sovereign debt crisis which threatens to spread to Spain and Italy. Obama also called on countries with a budget surplus to help those in crisis, an act which he believes will steady the markets and give them confidence.

The Spanish Government has so far refused to comment on President Obama’s remarks – Economic Minister Elena Salgado sidestepped questions by reporters this morning on the issue.

However, the PSOE’s presidential candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, appearing alongside Salgado, explained that Obama was simply urging Eurozone members to “stop the contagion”. He went further, suggesting that the key is to resolve the Greek problem and “isolate” that country to prevent contagion to the rest of the economies.