German Chancellor Merkel praised the Spanish government for its economic reforms after meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero. Spain is looking to cut its budget deficit and confront its massive unemployment rate.
Merkel was all smiles after her meeting with Zapatero
Speaking in Madrid on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could "absolutely" rule out the need for a bailout for the Spanish economy. Merkel was in Madrid too meet with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
"Spain has really done its homework now," she said at a joint press conference with Zapatero. "Therefore I believe Spain is now on a good path and there's no room for any sort of speculation."
Merkel says Spain won't need a bailout like Greece and Ireland
Spain has been seen as possibly following in the footsteps of Greece and Ireland and asking for a bailout from the eurozone.
Just a day before their talks, the Spanish government signed an agreement with trade unions and employers to increase the retirement age from 65 to 67, just as Germany had already done. Zapatero's government has also cut public spending and taken measures to make the labor market more flexible.
A pact for the eurozone?
In addition to discussing Spain's efforts to shore up its finances, the two leaders discussed the possibility of increasing economic cooperation within the eurozone.
On Friday, France and Germany are due to present a proposed economic pact for the countries using the shared euro currency. Merkel said taxation systems, wage costs and retirement ages needed to be more unified across the eurozone.
Zapatero seconded those calls at the press conference with Merkel.
"We have to be more competitive," he said, "and to do that we need reforms."
Looking abroad for work
In conjunction with the face-to-face time, a new program has recently been announced to help unemployed Spaniards find work in Germany. At 20 percent, Spain's unemployment rate is the highest in the eurozone.
"The government is now implementing a series of fiscal austerity measures in order to improve the public debt dynamics and so there isn't really that stimulus that can really aid the difficult economic and unemployment situation," Maya Imberg, an editor and economist with Economist Intelligence Unit told Deutsche Welle.
Spanish medical professionals could find a job in Germany
As citizens of the European Union, Spaniards are already able to work in Germany. But sometime Europeans need a helping hand. The program is run by EURES, a European network of agencies that helps companies and potential employees find each other across the 27-nation bloc.
Now the focus is on Spain and Germany. The program is specifically looking for workers in the health, hospitality, engineering and education sectors, and workers need to have at least a conversational level of German.
"The EU has moved toward having a more flexible labor market over the last couple of decades, but actually there's still a lot of barriers there," Imberg said. "The fact that each country speaks a different language is actually quite a big barrier towards having a big labor market."
One barrier the two governments are working on eliminating is the recognition of academic and professional degrees and certificates so that skilled Spaniards can find the jobs they in Germany.
Author: Holly Fox (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Andreas Illmer