Exactly a year ago I commented in these same pages the shock of the impact that our economy had experienced as a result of the pandemic and the importance that it was going to have for its recovery, or rather transformation, both the pace of evolution of vaccines and the correct management of European funds.
Regarding the first, we can be satisfied, since it is a success attributable to all that our vaccination levels are among the highest in the world, which is the best antidote to prevent an expansion of the disease and a potential return of the various versions of confinement that we have already started to see in Europe.
Regarding the second, although it is true that the funds began to arrive in the second half of this year, it remains to be seen. if we will be able to successfully complete the management and processing of the grants as comprehensive as possible, which means swiftly executing the structural reforms that come with it, among others, in the pension system. And not only because they are requirements that they establish from Brussels to receive said funds but, above all, in order to transform and prepare our economy to compete successfully in the future.
The banks are going to be an indispensable piece in this regard, given our ability to serve as a link between companies and administrations and the knowledge that we have of the needs of our clients. I am proud to say that at Bankinter we have become a benchmark entity for companies in attracting, executing and developing projects linked to the Next Generation program.
Proper use of European funds will therefore be the first challenge we will face in 2022.
The second will be to transform our economy in multiple areas, including the double ecological and digital transition, as well as the reindustrialization of the countryA need that became clear precisely as a result of the pandemic. Without forgetting, of course, the transformation of our labor market, which despite having contained mass unemployment thanks to the ERTE formula, will not reach the employment levels prior to the pandemic in 2022, which will lead us to continue being the eurozone country with the most unemployment.
Another challenge will be to improve our competitiveness, for example with an adequate use of fiscal policy and a stable regulatory environment that generates security. All this with the aim of attracting new investments and promoting the recovery of business profits, which in the end end up permeating society as a whole. And this is one of the weak points of the Spanish economy: the slow recovery that the benefits of our companies are experiencing compared to those of other economies.
We are, therefore, before the challenge of driving growth and, above all, to make it sustainable over time, and for this the collaboration of all will be necessary. Otherwise our economy runs the risk of being diluted in the average and bordering on the European periphery, when we must offer an additional attraction.