Presentation of the Council's 2012 Report at the Nueva Sociedad Forum
Marcos Peña, President of the Spanish Economic and Social Council, set out in a talk today at the Nueva Economía Forum the contents of the Council's 2012 Socioeconomic and Employment Report, recently adopted by its plenary session by a very wide majority (with just one abstention).
Regarding the economy, Peña highlighted the importance of distinguishing between the structural budgetary deficit and the deficit due to the economic situation. He reiterated the need for the Spanish government to make an in-depth fiscal reform more in keeping with Spain's new economic model, as the current one's capacity to raise revenue has much declined. However, regarding the deficit he warned that only with economic growth will it be possible to close the budgetary gap, so he stressed the need for Brussels to promote stimulus plans in EU countries with healthy fiscal accounts, as described in the Council's 2012 Report.
Marcos Peña spoke up for the Spanish companies and economic sectors that have been able to offset the sharp drop in domestic demand with a rise in sales abroad, through greater structural competitiveness and not just price cutting. In this connection he noted the enhanced competitiveness of the automotive sector which, with smooth collective bargaining, has got ahead of both internal competitors (other plants of the same automotive groups) and external ones.
Before an audience of more than 200, the Council President noted that the 2012 Report shows a widening of the regional and social divide in Spain as a result of the crisis, which is a dangerous situation.
In the employment sphere, Marcos Peña's talk dwelt on the high unemployment rate and he expressed concern not just at the jobless levels but also because this is "bad unemployment", badly spread and hitting particular groups and Spain's most depressed regions. But he noted that, despite this dramatic situation, collective bargaining has continued to work so as to minimise where possible the effects of job losses. Thanks to the social partners' efforts, 80% of layoffs are negotiated, and there are now more layoffs reducing workforces rather than for closure.
As to the section of the Report on quality of life, he summed up the situation in Spain by saying: "if work is bad, life is bad, and if there's no work, a fundamental personal right is taken away." But he stressed that public transfers are working and that social spending still exists, though this means that ever more citizens are dependent on public aid.