News / Europe

Spain's Zapatero Pledges Financial Austerity

Spain's prime minister is pledging to forge ahead with budget austerity measures to stem fears that his nation might eventually need an international financial bailout like Greece and Ireland.

The Spanish leader, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, met with leaders of 37 of Spain's largest businesses on Saturday. He said he would not "deviate from austerity" and said Spanish banks would be required to ease debt fears by revealing more information about their finances.

Some European policymakers have said they are worried that debt-laden Portugal and Spain might be next to need to accept financial bailouts from their counterparts in the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Portugal has said it will not need a bailout and Mr. Zapatero said Friday he could "absolutely" rule out such a need for Spain.

Spain is recovering from a two-year recession and has the highest unemployment rate among EU countries at nearly 20 percent.

The prime minister's meeting with business leaders was intended to assure them of the Spanish government's efforts to cut its deficit and to discuss how to stimulate the national economy.

The Spanish economy has faltered, with overall national production flat in the July-to-September period, following weak growth in the previous two quarters.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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