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Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2010-02-09

Spaniards face up to having to work for longer

Spain might have a 20% unemployment rate, but those who do have a job may have to face up to working for longer. The government wants to raise the country's official retirement age from 65 to 67, saying the move is needed to cope with Spain's rapidly ageing population. The change will be phased in gradually from 2013, but workers' unions have already vowed to fight it.

Madrid financial market has just lived its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Spain’s markets were hard hit by Greece-related doubts among investors: its deficit rose to 11.4 per cent of GDP last year, and its public debt, although low by eurozone standards, is rising. The unemployment rate is rocketing at 18,83%.

Zapatero’s governement struggles to soothe investors and limit the lack of confidence that has spread across southern Europe from the financial crisis in Greece, pushing new reforms to cut spanish deficit and improve competitiveness: an austerity plan, a new frame for the job market, and a new pension system.

But delaying legal retirement age from 65 to 67 is not the kind of plans expected by Spaniards themselves. Announced in a rushing intent to reassure investors and European leaders, the plan is rejected by 84% of Spaniards, according to a study published by the newspaper El Pais on Sunday 7th. Unions raised what they consider as a paradoxical situation: government wants people to work longer, they say, but young Spaniards have many difficulties to enter in the job market (youth unemployment in Spain hits 43%).

Two generations, two different realities: Adeline Percept and Clément Perrouault, reporting in Madrid.

By Adeline PERCEPT



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