We’ve been hearing all types of news stories lately about the terrible route the Basque Country finds itself taking.  We’re are constantly being shown how terribly the quality of the services provided is dropping as a result of poor management by elected officials.

A textbook example of this situation is the Basque Health Service.  It’s all going to pot, they tell us, completely omitting the context, to wit: the pandemic, several economic crises, the problems caused by an aging population, and a good number of different matters (such as the “inexplicable limits on the number of open positions for student doctors) that have accumulated such that it makes things that much harder, and adds great weight to the idea that the word “disaster” comes close to describing reality.

In the end, we hear over and over again that Basque society is, and has been for many years now, tired of things getting worse.  And they tell us this so often that we end up believing it (we won’t recall Goebbels’s quote to ensure no one gets offended).  And we must also recall that socially, data matter less than perceptions.

Because the problem is that to refute a claim like this is extremely complex, and some require arguments that are often hard to transmit.  After all, it’s much easier to understand and assimilate a slogan than it is to analyze a real situation, or pore through the reports which do.

To deny the existence of the disaster they want to “sell” us is not to deny the existence of tensions, some of which are quite serious, among Basque public services.  But to speak of disasters or situations that are “critical” is to take a flight of fancy.

Our society’s situation, as seen by our society

To understand what the European populace thinks about the situation in the different Euroregions, a great tool we have at our disposal, originally introduced in 2010, is the European Quality of Government Index, which is the responsibility of the Swedish University of Gothenburg.  Four editions have been published, in 2010, 2013, 2017, and 2021 (and can be consulted here).

The fourth EQI, from 2021, is based on the largest survey thus far carried out to measure citizens’ perceptions about the quality of government in the EU.  The survey collects the opinions and direct experience regarding public health services, education, and law enforcement of 129,000 respondents from a total of 208 regions within the 27 EU member states.

This serves not only to see how European citizens feel about the Euroregions, but to also see how that opinion has changed over time, complete with a pandemic in the middle.

The European Quality of Government index (EQI), 2021
The European Quality of Government index (EQI), 2021

This is the summary graphic from the 2021 report, but there’s also an interactive graphic which shows how European citizens’ opinions have evolved about their respective Euroregions over time.

What’s more, the latest edition has an extra that is highly interesting to us.  It contains a case study analyzing the change in assessments in Poland and Spain, with some very interesting results.

The Data on the Basques

The Investigaciones Regionales-Journal of Regional Research journal has published an article titled “Cambio y Continuidad en la Calidad de Gobierno. Tendencias en la calidad de gobierno subnacional en los estados miembros de la UE” in issue 53 (which we’ve linked to below).  It analyzes the date found in the 2021 European Quality of Government Index.

This study is full of interesting info for the Basques; the data are even more accurate for the Basque Autonomous Community and the Navarrese autonomous community than for the Northern Basque Country, whose data are diluted by those of New Aquitaine.

Resultados encuestas EQI en el Reino de España (2010-2021)
EQU survey results for Spain (2010-2021)

It’s quite easy to see the positive trend for both autonomous communities in the Southern Basque Country, with the 2021 data placing them among the top Euroregions.

Distribución de las puntuaciones del EQI de 2021 por región y país
2021 EQI score distribution by region and country

It is likely that the next edition of the study will show this upward trend in Basque citizens’ evaluations regarding the quality of governance may start going down.  It seems unlikely that the sum of the actual problems and the perceived problems will bring it down.  The officials elected on April 21 will have a hard row to hoe.

This is compounded in the case of health care, as our already aged population is going to see an explosion in older citizens who require even more care, placing the welfare state we’ve so enjoyed for the past 40 years under great strain.  There seem to be no easy solutions.

And of course, just because we’re near the head of the pack does not mean that there isn’t a great deal that still needs improvement.  All that that shows is that we’re not undergoing a disaster of biblical proportions, as some would have us believe.

Along with the aforementioned reports, we’ll also leave you with an article by Dr. Rafael Jiménez Asensio, published on his blog Ensayo y Política, in which he analyzes this 2021 EQI data by autonomous community.


European Commission -2022- Europe

European Quality of Government Index 2021

The fourth edition of the EQI, published in 2021 is based on the largest survey to date to measure the perceptions of quality of government in the EU. The survey collects the opinion and direct experience on public health-care, education and law enforcement of over 129,000 respondents in a total of 208 regions in all EU 27 member states, at the NUTS1 or NUTS2 level.

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Investigaciones Regionales – Journal of Regional Research -2022 – Europe

Cambio y Continuidad en la Calidad de Gobierno. Tendencias en la calidad de gobierno subnacional en los estados miembros de la UE

pesar de las inversiones masivas, los estudios sugieren que los esfuerzos anticorrupción a menudo fracasan y que los países y regiones con una calidad de gobierno históricamente deficiente tienden a quedar atrapados en un círculo vicioso de altos niveles de corrupción y una prestación inadecuada de servicios públicos.

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Original study PDF (English)
Machine translation of PDF

Ensayo y Política – 23/5/2021 – Spain


Aunque no cotice políticamente al alza, al menos en nuestro país, nadie mínimamente informado duda de que la calidad institucional es uno de los factores que facilita el desarrollo económico, la cohesión social y la mejora de la vida de la ciudadanía. Ahogados en nuestras cuitas inmediatas o huidos hacia un horizonte temporal de largo plazo, con frecuencia nuestros gobiernos olvidan que los deberes políticos-institucionales son para hacer aquí y ahora con la mirada puesta en el medio plazo.

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Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by About Basque Country

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