The greatest solidarity operation in history


When the balances for the 2006 aid funds given by the European Union to Spain came out, a senior European Commission official, together with a journalist with three college degrees and a prestigious international career published a book called The greatest solidarity operation in history. A chronicle of the EU regional policy in Spain.

In the introduction it says:

“Spain has become the most favored country in the whole world by a flow of solidarity [i.e., transfers] from other countries. This Spanish record is three times higher than the total amount of the Marshall Plan to all the countries who received it after World War II.” More recently, Enric Juliana, a correspondent for La Vanguardia in Madrid and well-known essayist, echoed this book in two articles entitled Three Marshall Plans and One hundred and thirty Euros per person per year. These articles are, together with the aforementioned book, very good material to understand what the resources received from Europe between 1986 and 2006 have represented for Spain.

Starting point

We have to go back and consider Spain in 1986—47 years after the end of the Civil War, 27 years after the Stabilization Plan moved the country away from wretched isolationism, and 14 years after the third Development Plan. Spain added 38.4 million inhabitants to the European Union, with a per capita income equivalent to the 68% of the European average. It was still a poor country among the 12 member states. Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and Luxembourg were prosperous. Only two countries, with smaller populations (Portugal and Greece), were below Spain.

The Single European Act, signed in 1986, added the principle of social and economic unity to allow a balanced development of all the member states. In January 1995, three new members—Austria, Finland and Sweden—joined the union without substantially altering the imbalance.

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