MADRID, April 3 Spain's prime minister called on
Wednesday for Europe to adopt growth policies to balance
austerity and issued a veiled demand for Germany to boost
In a one-hour televised speech to leaders of his People's
Party (PP), Mariano Rajoy also dismissed accusations of
widespread corruption in Spain.
"Countries that can afford it should spend more," he said, a
code he has used in the past to call on Germany, the only big
European country with spending capacity, to implement more
expansive fiscal policies.
"Europe is the only region in the world in recession. To
overcome this situation we need three things: every country
needs to do its homework, we need more (European) integration
and we need growth policies," Rajoy said.
Rajoy also said the Spanish economy would clearly grow in
2014 while 2013 would remain tough, a slight change from
previous speeches when he insisted Spain would return to growth
at the end of the year.
A government source told Reuters on Monday that Spain would
revise down its economic growth forecast for 2013 in April and
seek more time from the European Union to reduce its budget
deficit as a recession cuts deeper than previously expected.
Spain's gross domestic product (GDP) will be forecast to
shrink by 1 percent, rather than 0.5 percent, the source said,
adding that the government intended to shift emphasis to growth
rather than deficit reduction.
Spain is also negotiating with the European Commission for
more time to bring its deficit within 3 percent of GDP,
something it is currently expected to do by 2014, the source
Rajoy's meeting with party leaders had been due for several
weeks. He has elicited complaints from some of them regarding
what they see as a weak reaction to a corruption scandal
involving three former treasurers of his party.
Spanish daily newspaper El Pais in January published papers
it said were ledgers kept by former party treasurer Luis
Barcenas from 1990 to 2009 showing the party used backhanders
from companies to top up the salaries of party members,
A High Court examining magistrate has opened two
investigations into the allegations. Rajoy and Barcenas have
denied any wrongdoing.
The case has added to Spaniards' suspicions of deep rot now
afflicting the democracy that emerged some 35 years after the
death of General Franco.
Rajoy dismissed claims of widespread corruption in the
country, saying Spain was no different from any other European
state, adding he would fight against corruption cases in his
party and others.
Since the scandal involving the PP started in January, Rajoy
has reduced his public appearances, including before the
parliament, to a minimum. He has not given a news conference in
Spain in several weeks.