Spain has sharply revised upwards the figures for its economic growth over the last four years.
It says that is mostly to take into account a surge in the country’s population due to immigration. Hundreds of thousand of immigrants, many of them illegal, have moved to Spain to take part in its booming economy. The new figures also include changes asked for by the European statistics office, Eurostat. David Vergara of the Spanish Economy Ministry told reporters: “Spain’s economy grew strongly in the last few years. It has created more employment and has invested more, however productivity has not increased so much.” He added: “The growth rate in 2004 of 3.1% is absolutely remarkable.” The revised figures show Spain’s GDP was far higher than the euro zone average. For example, growth of 2.9% in 2003 compared with just 0.5% in the euro zone. The International Monetary Fund forecast for next year is for 2.8% in Spain and just 1.6% in the euro zone. Spain has received tens of billion in EU state aid since it joined in 1986, but that is set to change dramatically in the next budget period because of the country’s rapid economic progress and the entry of poorer eastern European nations. The revision has implications for the debate that is raging about the European Union budget for 2007-2013.