Spain and the Blame Game

Spain and the Blame Game




Do you have a deficit with the bank?

Do you always comply to the rules or sometimes break them?

Do you have any debt on your credit card?

Could you help me to shift all my stuff to my new apartment this weekend?

Who do you blame when you cannot find your keys?

When’s the best time to grab back any extra taxes paid?

What’s the difference between devolved and involved?

Do you overspend at Christmas?

Which of Messi’s goals was the most staggering recently?

Who is the most erratic person that you know and why?

If I am withholding €5 that I owe you, whats happening?

If I sit by and watch it all happening, what exactly am I doing?

Do you know approximately how many tolls there are between Barcelona and Valencia?

Which country is the most overcrowded in the world?

If a woman scorns you, is it good, bad, dangerous or exciting?

If I wipe out all google browser records what am I doing?

How fat is a cash cow and would you like one?

What type of person says “I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you”.


Phrases: Please create sentences using these expressions

to buy it (I ain’t gonna buy it )

living beyond their means

is far from the truth

to make ends meet

Despite the fact that



As Spain confronts the reality of its economic worries, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate economic fact from political fiction. Last Thursday, Spain’s minister of economy admitted that the 2011 budget deficit had missed the 6% of GDP target by about 2 percentage points and doubted that Spain could comply with the EU-imposed deficit target for 2012. With its debt risk still at high levels, the strategy of the new Spanish government is to shift the blame to the regional governments, like Catalonia, and at the same time use the crisis to grab back the power that was devolved to the regions in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the international media are starting to buy it.

Yet, while it may be true that some Spanish regions have overspent their means, in the case of Catalonia (capital: Barcelona) this is far from the truth.

In the past few years, Catalonia has been incredibly fiscally responsible, despite a no-win financial structure imposed by the country. One of the most productive regions in Spain (contributing 18.7% of Spain’s GDP), it actually pays to the central government a staggering amount more in taxes than it receives from the central government in spending.

The imbalance has grown so large as to put in danger Catalonia’s own well-being. A 2005 report released by the Catalan government stated that Catalans had contributed 47 billion euros to the central government but had received only 30 billion euros in spending, resulting in a fiscal imbalance of almost 17 billion euros, or 9.8% GDP. A study released by the Spanish central government itself agreed, estimating the deficit to be 8.7% GDP. In other words, each year the equivalent of some US $21 billion goes directly from Catalan taxpayers to the central government. This makes it impossible for the Catalan government to make ends meet, despite the fact that it is responsible for delivering a wide range of services to its citizens — responsibilities that have grown as the central government devolves (without cutting its own civil servant workforce!)

Not only is the funding too little, it is erratically paid; for example, so far Spain has refused to hand over 759 million euros — ($1 billion USD) — that had already been approved and included in the central budget. Catalonia’s Minister of Economy accused the Spanish government of withholding the funds owed to Catalonia to both make Spain’s debt look better and Catalonia’s worse.

Despite the fact that it provides more funds to Spain than it takes in, Catalonia must sit by and watch the central government fund projects that do not help Catalan citizens. The Spanish government spent $60 billion building high-speed rail lines that link low density communities with small demand, like the connection between Toledo (population 80,000) to Cuenca (population: 56,000) which was finally canceled in June, 2011, because it cost around $22,000 per day to run, and over six months, had had only 2,796 passengers.

Meanwhile, there is no high-speed rail service at all from major port cities Barcelona (metro population: 5 million) to Valencia (2.3 million) or to the French border. Unfortunately, that is one example among many. Free highways, brand new schools, and empty airports abound all over Spain while Catalonia’s commuters must pay excessive tolls, their schools are old and overcrowded, and the Barcelona airport is restricted from flying to certain international destinations in favour of Madrid’s Barajas.

Add that to the scorn expressed by too many Spanish politicians (and Spanish Twitter users!) for Catalonia, and you will realise why Catalan independence is now polling higher than ever before: around 44% would vote in favour of an independent Catalan state, in contrast with around 28% who would vote against. A week ago, the extremely cautious Catalan president warned, in an interview with the Financial Times, about the growing emotional divorce between Catalonia and Spain and announced plans to achieve full fiscal sovereignty.


Indeed, with the 21 billion dollars that an independent Catalonia would save in a single year, it could wipe out its entire public debt in two years and still build a new airport in Barcelona, a much needed high-speed rail line to the French border, as well as several hospitals, schools and top-rate research centres.

The Spanish government must be concerned about losing its cash cow — and is responding by doing its best to slow down any independence Catalonia enjoys and convince the world that the Spanish deficit is Catalonia’s fault. Don’t believe a word of it!



Do you agree with this article?

What type of scorn has been expressed by Spanish politicians?

Name a cash cow in the tech market?

Do you think this article is bias or balanced? Identify 3 reasons why?

Is Catalonia emotionally divorced from Spain?

Would you like to see a referendum about independence like in Scotland?




Please use the vocab in the sentences below:


deficit, to comply, debt, to shift, to blame, to grab back, devolve, overspend, staggering, erratic, withholding,

to sit by, tolls, overcrowded, scorn, wipe out, cash cow


1. Scotland is rapidly ____________ from England and will have a referendum in 2014.

2. Do you have any coins for the next ______ on this road?

3. The concert is extremely ______________ , it made the night very uncomfortable.

4. Sometimes the best strategy is to just ___________ and see what happens.

5. I need an old cloth to _______ _______ the words from the blackboard.

6. The bank have massive __________ and _______ and some have needed bailouts to survive.

7. I always ___________ in the beginning of the month and usually have nothing at the end.

8. Shakespear’s famous quote “Hell hath no fury like a woman _________” (past tense).

9. Don’t __________ me ! I didn’t do it !

10. I don’t understand this sales trend, it’s very ____________  .

11. Recently, there has been a positive _________ of public opinion towards Obama.

12. What’s the next big ________ ________ in the smartphone market?

13. Messi has scored a ____________ 100 goals in as many matches. Unbelievable!

14. Please ___________ will the rules of the company and smoke outside the boundary.


Post Class revision the week after:

The amount that is missing in a sum or calculation.

To conform or agree with the rules and laws.

verb for money owed.

To move or an number of hours in work.

To assure someone else of wrong or to pass responsibility onto someone else.

Phrasal verb to take back again quickly.

The action of a country becoming constitutionally separate from another country.

To spend more than you have.

A strong adjective to describe something beyond understanding or belief.

An adjective to describe volatile behaviour.

To hold extra in reserve and not distribute.

Phrasal verb to wait and watch what’s happening.

Tariffs or fees paid to use a service or a road.

When too many people are fixed into a space.

To feel contempt or hatred for someone/ something.

Phrasal verb to erase from view or to delete.

An economic and business term for a very profitable product or sector.



About Author

Justin Donlon

English Teacher & Content Developer Over 15 years of experience in engaging educational content

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