Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is proposing a road map that includes a social, feminist and ecological Europe including a Spanish ‘Green New Deal’, with a more ambitious European Budget, Monetary Union and its own defence framework, among other goals, and commits to pro-European forces in elections in which, “Europe’s role – driving forward or lagging behind – is at stake”.
Sánchez took part in an event organized by the Spanish Federal Council of the European Movement to debate the future of Europe at the Athenaeum in Madrid. In his speech, he called for a “more social” Europe that no citizen feels excluded from; only in this way will “the EU be felt by Europeans to be at the heart of their own project, and not as the heritage of an enlightened, cosmopolitan class”.
Sánchez reiterated, as he had done previously in the European Parliament, that “we must protect Europe so that Europe can protect its citizens”. In this regard, he called for a commitment to be made on May 26 to the pro-European forces, to protect the EU, in elections in which, “Europe’s role – driving forward or lagging behind – is at stake,” he said.
Sánchez advocated the social democratic pact that gave rise to the European project as the basis to make Europe a genuine community of values, a Europe that “only makes sense as a project if it defends cohesion”; on the one hand, social and territorial cohesion, preventing insurmountable breaches from opening up and, on the other hand, political and economic cohesion so progress can be made in a world in which independence does not mean sovereignty.
But Europe, stated Sánchez, is also a community of interests that must be protected through unity. Europe must look at China and the United States and take its place next to them. Against this backdrop, the Prime Minister highlighted Europe’s fundamental role as an important player in the Mediterranean, as a physical border with Africa and also as a gateway to such a strategic area as Latin America. Spain “wants to be, and in fact already is, at the very heart of the new drive that the European Union needs to take,” Sánchez stressed.
Eight political action goals to boost the European movement
In order to protect Europe and so that Europe can protect us, “we must regain momentum and face up to new challenges”, to which end the Sánchez proposed eight goals for political action. The first of these is to consolidate the modernization and digital and ecological transition of our economy from a leadership position, catering for new sectors whilst not forgetting traditional sectors. Secondly, he proposes undertaking the new reforms that are pending, including underpinning the single currency, completing the Monetary Union, culminating the Banking Union, consolidating the Fiscal Pillar of the Euro and getting the European Deposit Insurance Scheme under way.
Thirdly, Sánchez claimed that it is necessary to maintain our social contract and protect the most needy through such decisive actions as the European Unemployment Benefit Scheme, which would complement current national schemes. Fourthly, he proposed culminating a feminist Europe through the adoption of a binding European Union Gender Equality Strategy to combat the gender gap, the higher unemployment rate and insecurities predominantly suffered by women.
Staying at the forefront in the fight against climate change is the fifth point to which end Sánchez proposed pushing through a ‘Green New Deal’, capable of shaking up the economy with sustainable industries and jobs, and a high added value thanks to innovation and knowledge. A new deal that allows us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda quicker and better.
The sixth goal raised by Sánchez is to tackle the migratory challenge from a dual perspective; from an internal perspective by providing orderly and supportive protection to those immigrants that need Europe and “not allowing this issue to be weighed down by a perverse focus that only looks at illegal migration”, and also tackling the problem from an external perspective, placing cooperation and development aid with Africa on the front line of action.
In this road map, the seventh goal would be to achieve a firm and effective foreign policy, ensuring its own defence framework, providing for multilateral collaboration, but not dependence, and making decision-making on foreign policy, which at present requires unanimity, more flexible, and hence faster.
Lastly, Sánchez recalled that all these policies to make Europe more useful and effective in protecting its citizens require an ambitious European Budget, in both size and content, which rises to the times and reflects the new priorities, without abandoning traditional policies.
Spain is ready for Brexit
With a view to the upcoming Extraordinary European Council to study the different possible Brexit outcomes, Sánchez stressed that Spain will adopt a constructive position to ensure the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom, recalling that the withdrawal agreement in place is the “best possible deal” and that if the United Kingdom proposes an extension to the deadline, then it must indicate to what end and for how long. “Going round in circles is not a solution”, claimed Pedro Sánchez.
Sánchez also recalled that Spain is ready for a disorderly withdrawal, that we are working to ensure the best possible relations with the British people and that we have a contingency plan in place that we “hope will be ratified by a parliamentary majority”.