What do the following have in common? The economic crisis, equality of the sexes, the situation in Cuba and a Europe with at least two presidents? The answer: the Spanish Presidency of the EU.
For the next six months, Spain wil be at the institutional helm. But the difference this time, is that there is not one but two captains for a convoy of 27 boats: Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Herman Van Rompuy.
If ecocomist Santiago Nino Becerra is to be believed, there will be a economic crash in 2010.
And, as Spain begins its EU Presidency, Europe is already in the midst of troubled economic times.
The unemployment queues are long in Spain, with 3,923,000 jobseekers at the end of 2009. It is an historic level nationally and the highest in the eurozone, where the unemployment rate has not been this high since the introduction of the common currency.
In Autumn, unemployment in Spain was 19.4 per cent according to the OECD and 9.8 per cent in the 16 countries of the eurozone, according to Eurostat.
So the Spanish EU Presidency has made boosting Europe’s economy a priority. It is a concern shared by the bloc’s top representatives, as expressed at the Madrid gathering where Spain formally took over on January 8.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: “There are, in particular, two very big challenges facing us, which will require the full engagement of the EU at the highest level if we are to be successful: first, tackling the economic crisis, second, responding to the climate change.”
With a growth rate of just one per cent, times are indeed tough for Europe’s economy. And, in a worrying sign for the EU, China is now believed to have overtaken Germany as the world’s biggest exporter.