Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the country is unable to fund itself at the current cost of borrowing and needs sacrifices such as higher taxes to restore its national standing.
“If we do this we will start to recover confidence as a serious country that does what it says,” Rajoy said on Saturday in a speech to members of his People’s Party at Soutomaior Castle in Galicia. “At the moment we can’t finance ourselves at the prices of the market.”
Rajoy was addressing supporters in his home region on the same day that increases to value-added tax took effect. Spanish households already are squeezed by unemployment at close to 25 percent and austerity measures that will be equal to 15 percent of GDP by 2014.
“This is a sacrifice that comes at a very difficult time for very many Spaniards,” said Rajoy, referring to the sales tax. “If there had been any other alternative, does anyone think that I would not have been the first one to adopt it?”
Rajoy said the main problem facing Europe was the difference in financing costs between countries.
“This is the battle we are fighting and it’s the greatest challenge that Europe has ahead of it,” Rajoy said.
Ten-year Spanish bond yields climbed on Friday to 6.83 percent while the spread over German debt with a similar maturity surged to 552 basis points from 527 basis points on Thursday. Standard & Poor’s Friday cut Catalonia’s credit rating to junk status after Spain’s most indebted region said it would need to tap a government rescue fund.