Why the Euro-cream turned sour in Spain

In the second in a series, Elizabeth Nash reports on the potential Emu pain for Madrid

The French welfare revolt has set Spain's authorities a-jitter. The Economy Minister, Pedro Solbes, has been trying to reassure everyone that nothing similar could occur this side of the Pyrenees as long as Spain holds to its economic policies. He argues that although the demands of Brussels must be met for Spain to be in the running for a single currency by 1999, sacrifices can be shared so that no one screams with pain.

He announced this week spending cuts of 900bn pesetas (pounds 4.8bn) over the next year but gave no indication where they might fall. Obvious targets are, as in France, pensions, social services and public-sector employment. Mr Solbes pledged to make no cuts in these areas.

Spain differs from France in two important respects.

First, the Spanish Socialist government has been achieving budget cuts for years by strenuous arm-twisting, accompanied by threats of worse treatment if deals are not reached. Second, Spain's welfare state, though an advance on what the government inherited when it came to power in 1982, falls far short of that enjoyed by the French.

The private sector takes much of the burden of health care and pensions which in France or Britain is borne by the state. The idea of a "cradle-to-grave" state provision is incomprehensible to most Spaniards, who look to their families to fulfil that responsibility.

Mr Solbes insists that Spain will meet the EU criteria for a single currency by 1999 and that trends are moving in the right direction. But Spain fails all the Maastricht criteria and Brussels fears it may not catch up in time.

"Our political advancement in Europe is fundamental," said Mr Solbes yesterday, when asked about prospects for a single currency.

Failure to meet the 1999 deadline would be a crushing blow for a nation that views EU membership as the seal upon its existence as a modern democracy.

But for millions of Spaniards, especially the unemployed, the European dream has already turned sour; further welfare cuts could tip the present mood of cynicism and apathy into one of revolt.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin