Spain, facing a decisive decade and no longer being a problem for the EU

Atalayar_Banderas UE España

"Spain is the EU country with the most negative impact because of the pandemic; it has 220,000 companies close to collapse; 15.4% unemployment with 40% youth unemployment; a public debt of 120% and an unsustainable public deficit of 11%. It would not be able to face all this if it were not for the aid of the EU umbrella and European funds. An opportunity that cannot be missed, which will happen if the five unpostponable reforms are not urgently undertaken: labour, tax, pensions, education and public administrations". Such is the diagnosis of the President of the Círculo de Empresarios, Manuel Pérez-Sala, in presenting his suggestions for Spain to face a decisive decade.

It was the first presential meeting of the Círculo de Empresarios, combined with a great deal of telematic attendance, with the participation of opinion makers such as the lawyer Miriam González Durántez, the journalist Marta García Aller, the professor and political analyst José Ignacio Torreblanca and the philosopher Javier Gomá, all of them under the moderation of another journalist, Fernando Jáuregui.From her current residence in California, Miriam González reinforced the Círculo's diagnosis by pointing out that "Spain has become an enormous problem for the EU, which she described as a Union that is increasingly becoming a Union for the transfer of resources". In addition to the major reforms mentioned, González expressed her conviction that Spain must simultaneously tackle two other fundamental challenges: inequality and the reform of university teaching, which is progressively becoming a car park for young people with no future and, consequently, a factory for unemployment.

The Círculo's document calls on those in government to face the challenges by putting management capacity before ideology, with a view to the long term and not just the next elections. This led José Ignacio Torreblanca to point out that the current and growing crisis of democratic representation affects all countries governed by the least bad system of power sharing and alternation. The phenomenon has a particular impact on the EU, which has to resist against powers that question our values and principles and challenge the resilience of a Union that seems fragile. In this respect, it is very important for the EU to redefine and reaffirm its strategic sovereignty. "They have got the measure of Spain and the EU," he said, alluding to the crises with Morocco and Turkey, "which requires this effort to shape this essential strategic sovereignty".

Torreblanca described as "clumsy" those who condemn technological advances and advocate solutions such as imposing hard and specific taxation on robots, without realising that a washing machine, a mobile phone or a worksheet, for example, are also robots. He also demanded that the politicians make an effort to "repair" democracy and build consensus, because "this time it is different [from all the missed opportunities of the past], but let's not make a mistake because there won't be another one".

The useful and necessary contribution of Philosophy

What was a philosopher doing in such a presentation? Without any doubt, to demonstrate that society as a whole would not be able to survive without the permanent awareness of those who reflect on the human being and its central role in the world. Thus, Javier Gomá mentioned the usual tendency to identify democracy as a system that inexorably leads to prosperity, in order to deny that the latter is the distinguishing element of the aforementioned system. "What truly identifies democracy is dignity", he stated emphatically, contrasting in his affirmation models of undeniable prosperity such as that of Xi Jinping's China, but where respect for the dignity of people is not always the best.

When he was asked by Atalayar about the tendency of governments to multiply the number of civil servants in order to mitigate the enormous destruction of jobs as a solution to the problem that most distresses the majority of the population, almost all the participants agreed with Albert Einstein's dictum: "When the same recipes are applied, it is madness to expect different results".

The corollary of the document and its conclusions is that the EU in general, and particularly Spain, must put growth back at the centre of the political agenda, which requires the deep reforms that other countries are undertaking: Macron in France, Draghi in Italy or Biden in the United States, for example. This requires leadership and an enlightened citizenship, which is in fact the real counter-power.