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The King's Christmas Message to the Nation

Mon 28th Dec 2009

King Juan Carlos said Spain must "redouble its efforts" to achieve economic growth and create employment quickly and sustainably, adding that the country's political and economic establishment should work together in solidarity to ensure that necessary reforms are carried out.

The monarch said Thursday in his traditional Christmas address to the nation broadcast on Christmas Eve that Spain's "serious economic crisis" has caused unemployment to become the primary concern of Spanish families in 2009, noting that "several million people (are) anguished not only over their loss of income, but the lack of prospects in their work and personal lives."

"Achieving renewed growth is the most pressing challenge to bring an end to unemployment (while also) guaranteeing the greatest social protection" to those currently out of work, the Spaniard said.

Spain, officially in recession since the last quarter of 2008, has been battered by the global financial crisis and the end of a construction-industry-led boom, and its unemployment rate of roughly 18 percent currently stands at twice the average for the euro zone.

Juan Carlos also said all Spaniards need to serve "the general interest," acting with generosity and applying "the power of unity, dialogue and compromise, within a framework of respect for the constitution."

The king stressed the importance of preserving the independence of Spain's institutions and said that given the country's numerous challenges it is important for both the governing Socialists and the conservative opposition to exercise "patriotic sense" in striving to build a better future.

"Let's keep working so that fraternity wins out over friction, trust over suspicion, the collective good over individual selfishness, and so that honesty is the indispensable rule of conduct" the king said.

Juan Carlos called on political leaders to make the greatest effort possible to reach consensus and coordinate Spain's international role, since Spaniards' security, progress and well-being "increasingly depend" on the "effective protection and promotion" of the country's interests in the world.

The king noted that in January Spain will assume the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union for the fourth time, saying that this is a critical moment for the 27-nation bloc because it must adopt "measures of vital importance for its future" and stressed that a top priority is to "achieve a Europe that is more united, dynamic and present in the world."

The world faces challenges "that range from the scourge of terrorism to the economic crisis to climate change to pandemics and drug trafficking" and "all of them require joint action by nations" Juan Carlos said.

"The future (presents us with) strategic decisions of great import, both at the domestic level and on a European and international scale"

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