Spain will embark on a year of recovery in 2014 that will help cut the number of unemployed as the “hardest efforts” to restore the economy to growth bear fruit, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.

“If 2012 was the year of cutbacks, 2013 was the year of reforms and 2014 will be the year of the start of the economic recovery in our country,” Mr Rajoy told a news conference.

“We have seen a clear change in the situation.”

Spain’s two-year recession ended in the third quarter when the economy grew 0.1% from the previous three months, adding weight to Mr Rajoy’s argument that he can lower unemployment after two years in office. 

The Bank of Spain said in its monthly economic bulletin that early data showed the improvement in the economy had carried on into the final part of 2013.

Mr Rajoy said he expects the number of registered jobless will be lower at the end of 2013 than the end of the previous year, something that has not happened since 2006. 

He said that within a few months the number of contributors to social security would start to grow consistently.

The government is also preparing changes to Spain’s tax system to boost economic growth, Mr Rajoy said. 

Spain’s unemployment rate at the end of the third quarter was 26%.

Spain saved €8.7 billion this year on lower borrowing costs, Mr Rajoy said.