“The challenge for Spain to use the EU’s pandemic recovery fund wisely”, William Chislett (Elcano, Spain)

Spain’s economy, with weak fundamentals before the outbreak of COVID-19, has been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly the tourism industry, the country’s lifeblood. The €140 billion it will receive is not a panacea for the deep structural problems. Reforms are urgently needed. Such a large amount of money will sorely test the country’s administrative capacity to adequately plan and execute the funds. In the 1990s and early 2000s Spain was very successful in using EU funds for large infrastructure projects, such as the high-speed rail network (AVE), but since then it has slipped. Now is the time to invest in human capital and not physical infrastructure (much of which is already world class) and emerge with an economy that is more knowledge-based, digital, greener and inclusive. The EU has responded to the pandemic with an unprecedented fund. Spain’s leaders must rise to the historic occasion.

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