Former Vice President of the Government, Pedro Solbes, passed away at the age of 80 on Saturday, as confirmed by sources close to him.

He was a vital figure in the integration of Spain into the European Economic Community, with his active involvement in this historic process and management of the 2008 financial crisis leaving a lasting impact.

Solbes began his career in Brussels in 1973 as a commercial adviser to the Spanish mission to the European Communities, where he proved to be one of the most intellectually capable officials.

With a doctorate in Political Science, a degree in Law, and a diploma in European Economics from the Free University of Brussels, he was well-equipped for the role.

His command of French, English, and German made it easier for him to interact with officials from other countries during the difficult years of Spain’s political transition from dictatorship to democracy.

It was in Brussels where he met Joaquín Almunia, who represented the Chambers of Commerce at the time, and the two formed a strong and lasting friendship.

Solbes was known for being a solid, independent, and inclusive professional who was allergic to any form of sectarianism.

He always recognized the work of the men and women of Adolfo Suárez’s Union of the Democratic Center (UCD) in bringing Spain closer to Europe.

In a work on the economy of democracy coordinated by Miguel Ángel Noceda, he wrote that “during the UCD period, what could be done was done, which was the technical preparation of all the negotiations.”

His efforts to integrate Spain into Europe were a defining factor in his life. He continued this work from Madrid in Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo’s team, negotiating the accession process, which culminated in 1985 and, in his view, meant “the greatest modernization in our economic history.”

In the socialist government of Felipe González, he served as Secretary of State for Relations with the European Communities until 1991, with Francisco Fernández Ordóñez as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

From that year onwards, he joined the cabinet, first as Minister of Agriculture and later as Economy and Treasury Minister from 1993 to 1996.

This period included the Banesto crisis, which ended with the intervention of the bank. Solbes always maintained that the accusations of political motivations in that difficult decision were unfounded and that it was based on “a technical analysis by the Bank of Spain with the clear support of the Government.”

His European commitment reached its highest relevance when he served as European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs from 1999 to 2004.

Those were the years of adapting the euro in a difficult climate where Euroscepticism had begun to appear. The adoption of the single currency marked a decisive point in his life.

He believed that “with the euro, Spain passed from the 19th to the 21st century and had a very positive impact on the perception of our country in those years.”

Pedro Solbes was a fundamental figure in Spain’s integration into the European Economic Community, and his contributions to the process will not be forgotten.

His management of the 2008 financial crisis also leaves a lasting impact on Spanish history.

May he rest in peace.



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