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Zapatero to present more reforms at EU summit

Thu 24th Mar 2011

Just as Portugal is moving ever closer to requiring an EU bailout, Spain is preparing to introduce a range of new economic reforms at summit with EU leaders over the next few days.

The hightened state of political uncertainty caused by the resignantion of the Portuguese PM is expected to push the country towards seeking an international bailout and raise questions over whether Spain, which is struggling with similar issues, will be forced to do the same.

Spain's Minister for Economy, Elena Salgado, commented: "We have to continue to meet our commitments, strengthening our economy."

Spain's PM will present fellow EU leaders with details of a number of new measures to intended to overhaul the Spanish economy,according to comments made by his economic adviser Javier Valles yesterday. Valles said the measures would address priority issues for euro-zone countries at a meeting of E.U. leaders earlier this month: competitiveness, budget controls, employment and financial stability.

Over past weeks the government has focused its efforts on encouraging unions and employers to overhaul a collective wage bargaining system that makes it easier to fire workers in a downturn, rather than simply adjusting their wages. After a meeting with Zapatero yesterday, union leaders said they hope to reach an agreement by mid-April.

Spain's rate of unemployment rate is currently the highest in the Eurozone by some margin, standing at an average of 20.3% in february.

Government officials have also said they want to reinforce budget controls over the regional governments that control over 30% of spending in highly decentralized Spain.

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