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Minister: Spain must push through with austerity

From Richard Quest, CNN
February 9, 2012 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luis de Guindos says Spain must enforce fiscal austerity measures
  • Eurostat figures revealed that Spain has 21.3% unemployment
  • De Guindos says Spain must restructure its banking industry

(CNN) -- Spain's economy and competitiveness minister concedes the country has no option but to enforce fiscal austerity measures if it is to address its economic problems.

"Our problem is that in terms of labor market performance, we are the worst performing country in all of the industrialized nations," Luis de Guindos told CNN.

Spain's overwhelming unemployment has put it at the top of the list of OECD nations in terms of jobless rates. Last month's Eurostat figures revealed that Spain has 21.3% unemployment, and a staggering 46.3% youth unemployment -- a statistic that De Guindos labeled "unacceptable."

EU targets unemployment amid crisis

The minister believes labor market reforms will be essential to restore and promote growth in the European nation. He says modifying the wage-bargaining process and simplifying the number of contracts required would make it easier to do business there.

He added that Spain must also restructure its banking industry.

Eurozone crisis: How the figures stack up

"We will implement very rapidly, very swiftly, the reforms that the Spanish economy needs very quickly," De Guindos said. He said the first reform to be executed is fiscal austerity, to which he insists Spain is fully committed.

"We're going to follow this rhythm and be compatible with growth." The minister said to achieve this the country must try to rein in the public deficit and put in place reforms to increase confidence and competition.

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