Monday 11 December 2017

A lesson from Ireland ... what this island can teach Spain about putting its house in order

Javier Garrigues, Ambassador of Spain

SPAIN’S economy is not in the best of shapes. There is no question about that. Recession and unemployment are painful realities in today’s Spain. Spaniards are making huge sacrifices and bold structural reforms are being implemented in an effort to establish a sound foundation on which the economy can become more competitive, achieve sustainable growth and create, in large numbers, those badly needed jobs.

There is in Ireland, in my opinion, a clear awareness of this situation and a great amount of sympathy and understanding given the similarities of the crisis in both countries. Many Irish citizens know my country well. During their frequent visits to Spain (almost 1.3 million last year) they have the opportunity to see with their own eyes what the current situation is like. Our economic woes are real enough and should in no way be minimized, but I think it would be fair to say that they are often perceived, both at home and abroad, as being even worse than what they actually are. It can also be said that this negative perception has the perverse effect of undermining the morale of the country and its capacity to recover.

This, I believe, was also true until recently in Ireland, or at least that was my impression when I arrived in Dublin one year ago. But this country has successfully redressed the situation. As a foreign observer, it has been extremely interesting to witness how, in such a short lapse of time, there has been a complete turn around in public perception, both domestic and foreign, regarding the Irish economy and its potential for growth in the future. Undoubtedly, there is now a far more positive acknowledgement of Ireland’s social and economic assets, and this awareness in itself is helping the country advance towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

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