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Investiture speech of the presidential candidate in Lower House of Parliament

Lower House of Parliament, Madrid, Monday 22 July 2019

​PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, Acting President of the Government

Good afternoon, Honourable Members:

In 1979, 40 years back, the first investiture debate was held in this House. Many of you present here today either hadn't even been born or, as in my case, were so young that we don't even remember this political event.

Back at that time, there were still no bullet holes in the ceiling of the House, the air was full of MPs' smoke, mainly men, and those who wanted to make a phone call had to do so from a landline.

A long time has passed since then, Honourable Members, but the democratic ritual of the investiture governed by our Constitution remains the same: the Head of State commissions one of the candidates, in general, the one that has the parliamentary majority of the House, who outlines their programme and asks for the confidence of the majority to form a government.

And that is what I intend to do over the coming days, Honourable Members, ask for your confidence. Call on your responsibility, and also on your generosity. Call, in short, on the responsibility and generosity of everyone to ensure that Spain has a government and does not remain immersed in this stalemate.

Spain, as I said, has changed a lot over these last four decades. Back in 1979, only 5% of the Honourable Members were women; while this figure today stands at 47% - the highest percentage in the European Union. While at that time Europe was a faraway land for our parents and grandparents, today Spain is a full democracy that contributes to strengthening our common project, which is Europe.

Nothing we have achieved has been by chance; it has been thanks to the firm will of the Spanish people to always make progress, to look to the future, to always take steps forwards, together, without leaving anyone behind.

And just that, in my opinion, Honourable Members, made the Spanish people, when called to the polling stations on 28 April, and then again on 26 May, move forwards rather than fall further behind. Progress despite the clear attempts, and the more than evident risks of receding, as proposed by the parties that currently represent the conservative ranks. Progress, and not taking a single step backwards, despite the questions being asked in the public debate on civil rights and liberties of minorities, which some political forces are unfortunately attempting. Progress, rather than questioning our model of territorial co-existence. Progress and rejecting, with all our efforts, those attempts to trivialise the violence suffered by half of the population, for simply being female.

If only this overwhelming mandate expressed by the Spanish people on 28 April, and also on 26 May, could serve for the two main parties on the conservative bench to distance themselves from the authoritarian networks and the reactionary current that has impregnated European politics, and has now also unfortunately entered the Spanish Lower House.

Indeed, the two conservative parties and the far right have institutionalised in local authorities and in some autonomous regions the photo taken in Colón Square. They forgot, Honourable Members, about those speeches that called for the most voted for party to be put into power. They expelled those political formations that are not like-minded in favour of constitutional order, and with the same cordon sanitaire imposed on the Socialist Party they have put a noose around the far right, and consequently around Spanish political stability.

Honourable Members, I address you on behalf of the most voted for party in the general elections, on behalf of a party that amassed more seats than the total for these other two parliamentary forces present here, a party that also has an absolute majority in the Upper House, a party that this year, in 2019, celebrates its 140th anniversary and that wishes to make the mandate given in the ballot box on 28 April a reality, which is for Spain to make progress and to do so with social justice.

On 28 April, our citizens had to choose between remaining silent in the confrontation or committing to co-existence. And they clearly opted to continue pressing on with co-existence and harmony. They appreciated that a country cannot make progress by abandoning, or excluding, some of their fellow countrymen, and opted for growth and prosperity. They chose social cohesion. They decided to advocate good practices and eradicate corruption from public life, a state that had become the norm under the recent mandates of the People's Party. They opted for clean public practices and exemplary politicians.

Co-existence, cohesion and clean practices - this was the path chosen by our citizens on 28 April. They did their duty and turned out to vote. What do those who deny the only government possible have to offer?

The Spanish people, Honourable Members, voted for a progressive government and also for a responsible opposition. It is now down to us in this House to prove ourselves useful in serving them, and that task begins by immediately unblocking the formation of a government. There can only be an opposition if there is a government. And without a government, there will be a power vacuum.

To this end, Honourable Members, I wish to convey to you my first offer of a State pact.

It is clear that Article 99 of our Constitution, which governs - as you are well aware - the investiture procedure for the Presidency of the Government, must be updated to the new parliamentary reality.

Our citizens should never again suffer from the threat of repeat elections. One simple vote should be enough. And in the same way as the system guaranteed the formation of local governments on 15 June, and in the same way as many Statutes of Autonomy also guaranteed the formation of regional governments, and in the same way as the rules of this House are also guaranteed in a plenary session, so the government should also be guaranteed to be formed at a national level.

In order to make this proposal a reality, this agreement, which clearly strengthens the stability of the system, I ask that between us all you help facilitate the formation of the Government of Spain and that, subsequently, we tackle the constitutional reform of Article 199 so that this country never finds itself in this stalemate again.

We are not, Honourable Members, choosing between left and right, between progressives and conservatives - the people of Spain already did that on 28 April. We are choosing between a Spain with a government or without one.

I am not proposing, Honourable Members, weakening the work of the opposition, which can be exercised as strongly as considered opportune once a government is formed in Spain, I am quite simply proposing that Spain has a government and an opposition, rather than being stuck in a deadlock.

Above all, Honourable Members, because the world does not wait for anyone; the daily issues, the anguishes, the hopes of our society and of each person in Spain are not at a standstill.
Our young people, frustrated at the cost of housing, do not cease to suffer simply because there is no government in Spain.

The insecurity of a rider or female unemployment do not disappear simply because this House does not take on its responsibility to ensure there is a government in Spain.

The solitude of many elderly people who suffer in many of the towns and cities in our country does not cease simply because there is no government in Spain. Those, for example, who presented a million signatures calling for a Euthanasia Act just a few weeks ago to be able to die with dignity demand a clear response today, not tomorrow, not in September, October or November.

To that end, I propose that you make progress on forming a government demanded through the ballot box - a progressive, pro-European and feminist government, a government that clearly builds bridges, that looks to the future and that is able to build the foundations for major agreements that our country demands to face up to present challenges, challenges that require the government to act now and which also require the action of society as a whole.

Of all those goals that we need to set, there are six in my opinion regarding which Spain is playing with its present and immediate future. Six goals that are in line with the 2030 Agenda, to which this government, and the candidature that I also present to you at this investiture, has clearly been committed over the last 12 months.

The first of these and undoubtedly the one that is of the most concern to our citizens is dignified work, together with the sustainability of the public pension system.

Honourable Members, employment suffers in Spain from structural problems that have not yet been fully corrected, not even in boom periods, problems that are clearly exacerbated in times of economic crisis. We continue to have a very high level of unemployment, of around 14.7%. It is true that this is lower than the rate suffered in recent years but it is still significantly higher than the European Union average, with a high degree of long-term unemployment, which is one of the main goals and challenges we face in the coming years, despite being at record levels of National Insurance contributor numbers, at 19.5 million Spaniards, a figure that is particularly buoyant for Spanish women.

Together with this high unemployment of rate of almost 15%, we have a high level of temporary employment, of almost 26%, and high levels of compulsory part-time work as well, which clearly highlight the chronic weaknesses of our job market, which is particularly prevalent for women and young people.

Consequently, the logic is very simple. This reality of the job market is what means that many Spanish workers suffer from job insecurity. And job insecurity translates into lives in a permanent state of uncertainty.

Some 14% of workers in our country are poor workers and cannot reach the month's end on their salary. Independent contractors are also exposed to threats and difficulties. This has been debated many times here in this House; they suffer from too many administrative burdens; they contribute on amounts that are way higher than their real monthly income.

The situation of the so-called kellys and riders, seasonal farm workers, are not, Honourable Members, the exception in terms of job insecurity but are indicative of the structural inefficiencies that we must correct. Because they are all workers that we need and who demand and deserve their rights and a decent wage.

A modern economy cannot base its competitiveness on abusive salaries for some workers or exclude one in every six people of a working age. Or one in every three young people. And, together with that, we must guarantee dignity in terms of wages, sustainability and the public nature of our pension system, and underline the word "public".

This legislature must see the creation of a new Toledo Pact that safeguards the keystone to our Welfare State - our public pension system - against a backdrop that is very demanding due to the drop in our birth rate, combined with greater life expectancy. And consequently, to the increase in the ratio of pensioners to active workers.

And the question we must ask, Honourable Members, is where we want to place Spain. And our response, the response that I propose to you as the candidate to the investiture is to promote decent work in a competitive, sustainable economy, guaranteeing dignified pensions and safeguarding the public pension system.

The second challenge, together with employment and undoubtedly with the sustainability of the public pension system, is related to the digital revolution, to the technological revolution.

Just look, according to the figures published by the OECD just a few weeks ago, 21.7% of jobs in our country are at risk from automation, and hence of disappearing. And together with those 21.7%, 30.2% will suffer a radical transformation due to the relentless progress of technology.

The digital revolution not only affects employment, which is something that seriously concerns our citizens, but it also clearly impacts on key issues that a progressive government such as we seek to form advocates, for example, on taxation and fiscal justice. Just a few weeks ago, we saw in the media that a well-known audio-visual platform in Spain - and take this figure away with you - paid 3,146 euros of Corporate Income Tax. And it's not the only one. That is not only unsustainable, but also impinges on the most elementary principles of responsibility and fiscal justice.
The digital revolution also affects our rights and our liberties. We have a computer that is 100. 000 times more powerful than Apollo 11, that knows more about us than ourselves, due to the accumulation of data that can be found on a mobile phone.

And hence, the question that we should ask is, who does this information belong to? Who controls these data that are becoming a production factor as or more important than energy, than human capital, or even more than financial resources.

Whole sectors of our economy are being re-structured and adapt their models to those of digital platforms, but, despite that, Honourable Members, we continue responding with rules from last century to 21st Century realities.

In the absence of new rules, what is happening in our country, and throughout the world, is that new forms of insecure employment are emerging, such as riders, new ways to elude and evade taxation, such as the example as have given you, and new ways to violate the human rights to privacy and personal honour.

And in the period of digital transformation, the question must be the same as the one I asked before about employment and the public pensions system, where does Spain want to be?
Our response is heading up Europe because it is only in Europe that we can enjoy the digital revolution while protecting our citizens from the power of these new monopolies.
The third great challenge we are facing is climate change. This is not a specific challenge facing Spain, but a challenge facing the whole of humanity, and one that our country is particularly exposed to. That can be seen by episodes of extreme temperatures, and droughts; this year, for example, is a paradigm of what I am explaining, with such examples as the rising sea level and such devastating wildfires as we have suffered recently.

Air pollution kills and it cuts the life expectancy of many people each year. Is that the society, Honourable Members, that we want for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren? If we have no planet, what we do in other areas will be of no use. Can you furnish your house without walls or a roof? That is why society, and particularly young people, are calling for us to act, and for us to act now, to halt this suicidal dynamic that is eating away the house we live in and ultimately threatens to destroy it.

And once again, the question must be, where do we want Spain to stand in the challenge? And the answer must once again be, heading up the fight, the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, converting this great challenge into what it could become - a great opportunity for prosperity and secure progress for all Spanish people.

Honourable Members, the fourth challenge I wish to mention is related to real and effective equality between men and women. The inequality suffered by women shows its ugliest face in criminal male chauvinism. In 2018, almost one in five of all recorded murders was due to gender-based violence. In just a decade and a half, Honourable Members, more than 1,000 women have been murdered as a result of gender-based violence. This scourge has a name - male violence - although it has no surnames or euphemisms, it takes place at home or by a wolf pack. And those who seek to trivialise this drama are taking a step backwards into the past or are inventing conspiracies and should have one thing very clear - that we are going to be on their backs. But the inequality suffered by women can be expressed in many ways, the most visible of which is the unfair participation in the distribution of opportunities, of responsibilities at home, and also clearly in terms of income. A whole waste of resources. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Economy, the Gross Domestic Product of our country would grow by 15% more if we stamped out the gender gap in the job market. Inequality is a problem of dignity, but it is also a problem of human rights and of social progress. And the question to consequently ask is where do we want Spain to stand in this challenge? And our answer is as a global benchmark for feminism and in the fight for women's rights.

The fifth challenge I want to refer to is social inequality. Just a few days ago, a figure was published that was scandalous for all intents and purposes, which was that 8.5 million Spaniards are in a situation of social exclusion. Half of them suffer from acute exclusion; that is, they have an unsafe home, and permanent job insecurity. And of all of these people - 1.8 million - are directly expelled from society, which means they have no access to a dignified life, or a reasonable hope of achieving this in the future.

All of this happens in a country that is the fourth largest economy in the Eurozone, and the thirteenth largest in the world. Consequently, we live in a society that does not offer the same opportunities to everyone, particularly not to women. And it is not true that equality is a consequence of a lack of merit. Inequality is a consequence of failures in the system that must be corrected. These are sometimes structural failures, such as those that lead us to have an unbearable rate of child poverty that affects 26.8% of boys and girls. Does anyone think that a malnourished child, with failings at school and lacking in all sorts of way can freely develop a life project?

Social inequality is not only a moral scourge, although it is, but it also undermines our co-existence and the very foundations of our democracy. And hence, the question is once again the same, where do we want Spain to stand on this? And our answer is, the answer I propose to you is, on the front line in the fight against social inequality.

Lastly, Honourable Members, we are facing the challenge of strengthening Europe while maintaining the values on which it is based. The idea of a united Europe is threatened at this time by those who have never believed in it. And they are not only outside Europe, but also in it.

Spain must contribute to an ideal in which our society continues strongly and overwhelmingly believes. And that is why we must protect Europe. Protect its ideals, protect its values, protect a unique social model in the world. Europe, on the other hand, needs to reaffirm itself in the field of technology, climate change, industry and the economy. And it should do so through greater integration, strengthening a solid economic space capable of competing with other global powers.

All European countries united are a giant among giants, whereas separately, even the biggest country, that is, Germany, has little to say by itself in the 21st Century.
Europe is, Honourable Members, the area in which the nationalistic rivalries that brought our continent to two devastating wars were finally defeated and overcome. Europe means peace. It means overcoming national egos, that we have got around by sharing sovereignty, not giving it up but sharing it.

Europe must also be the field in which rivalries are overcome within countries. The horizon that overcomes our own internal tensions. What sense does it make, Honourable Members, to promote discord, separation and division within Spain when we need more European Union? What sense does it make to put up internal borders when precisely what is needed is to pull down many external borders? That goes against history.

Overcoming our territorial tensions will not only come from invoking the law and the Constitution and their application, but will undoubtedly need to come from a collective national regeneration project of progress with pro-European inspiration.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the six main challenges that Spain faces in my opinion, and these are our answers. To combat unemployment and insecurity, dignified jobs in a competitive economy. Decent pensions and a sustainable public system. To combat the technological challenge, the digital transformation. To combat climate change, the ecological transition. To combat discrimination against women, feminism. To combat inequality, social justice. And to combat global challenges, a united and diverse Spain in a diverse and united Europe.

And I should say to you, Honourable Members, that we can achieve this because we have a lot to learn from our own history. Spain suffered through turbulent times in the first three quarters of the 20th Century and also, unfortunately, through a long dictatorship. We had difficulties modernising the country, we had our hopes of a Republic shattered by the coup d'état and suffered from 40 years of the Franco regime. This history leads us to sometimes not appreciate the magnitude of what we have achieved over these last 40 years - a country in which there is no justification for not being appreciative of what we have achieved; a country that has also found a way to convert threats into great collective successes.

Many of our elderly folk well remember the very stark lives into which our grandparents were born in Spain - with hunger, widespread poverty, unsurfaced roads and villages without electricity.
In 1975, we put the dictatorship behind us and we are now one of the 20 most democratic countries in the world. And 40 years on, the government expects to fully comply with the Historical Memory Act and also with the mandate of this House because a democracy cannot have a mausoleum given over to a dictator.

In 1975, we had a stagnant economy and infrastructures practically worthy of a third world country, while today we have doubled our per capita income, we are a modern economy and we a country with one of the highest number of kilometres of high-speed network in the world.

In 1975, no liberties or civil rights existed, Honourable Members, we had a Social Danger Act that allowed us to imprison homosexuals to rehabilitate them for the simple reason that they were homosexual. Today things are quite the opposite; we are a benchmark country in terms of sexual liberty and the LGTBI community.

In 1975, women were subject to the will of men, even legally. Today, on 8 March each year, Spain hits the world headlines for its commitment to the defence of feminism. In 1975, Europe had its doors closed to us, while nowadays we are at the very heart of its decision-making. In 1975, we were a fully centralised country, without autonomous regions, without respect for the Basque, Galician and Catalan languages, while today we are the second most decentralised country in the world. In 1975, terrorism caused havoc and pain in the very heart of Spanish society, while today we are a democracy proud of its triumph over violence.

Our transformation as a country has been tremendous, Honourable Members. Our active population has increased by 10 million people, of which 7 million are women. We have been able to raise our Gross Domestic Product by a volume equivalent to the economies of the Netherlands and Denmark together in this period. We have multiplied our exports by 47 and almost tripled the number of inbound tourists that visit us each year. We have eight times the number of university students and our education budget per capita has multiplied by 1,400%. We have multiplied by 13 our spending on healthcare and we have built one of the most effective health systems in the world.

Spain is a great country, Honourable Members, admired and admirable. In 1975, we transformed the country and we are now going to do it again.
40 years ago, the first great transformation of our country took place - a success story in which governments of different political affiliations took part. In this legislature, I propose that we initiate the second great transformation of our country, tackling the six main goals I set out for you before. This second great transformation that I set out and propose to you, Honourable Members, will be founded on a decisive commitment to education. Or if you will allow me, to knowledge; in other words, to education, culture and science. These matters will impregnate all the government's actions, which is why I propose to you, Honourable Members, an agreement that guarantees investment in education amounting to 5% of the Gross Domestic Product, regardless of the economic situation, and also of the political colour of the governments in successive years. An initial commitment to convey a clear idea to society, which is that the government and Parliament are truly committed to the education of our sons and daughters.

Education opens the gateway to who we are as people. It is not only a productive element, it is not only a tool for transformation, it is not only a vehicle of democratic awareness and respect.
I found a news article very emotional the other day, in 2019, which said that one of the students with the highest marks in the university entrance exams, Honourable Members, Carlos Rodríguez, said to the media that he wanted to begin studies in drama at the Royal School of Dramatic Arts in Madrid. And that he could choose from the most prestigious degrees or those with the best job options, or any career which has a zero unemployment rate and that we are seeing mentioned in many of the media, such as mathematics or those subjects that guarantee a high income, but he chose the subject which most lived up to his dreams. That is why we have education, in order to bring the very best out of everyone to the benefit of society and of oneself.
Honourable Members, the six challenges set out must be tackled urgently. We cannot wait too long if we don't want Spain to miss the train of progress. And we must also do this against a complex economic backdrop, which I wish to refer to now.

While it is true that our economy continues to grow strongly, it is no less true that its rate of growth is dropping. Despite this, it is true that we are growing significantly more than our peer countries. And it is also true that over recent weeks we have received some very good news that the growth forecasts for this year have been revised upwardly by several international organisations.

Some months ago, the consensus of the analysts estimated that our economy was going to grow by around 2.2% in 2019. Last month, the Central Bank of Spain raised this forecast to 2.4%, and the European Commission has just placed it at 2.3%.

Hence, Spain will grow by approximately double the forecast for the Eurozone for this year. And more importantly, it will do so in a much more balanced fashion as a result of the virtuous performance of our foreign trade sector.

Over the last 12 months, more than 510,000 jobs have been created. And recorded unemployment has fallen by close to 150,000 people. The number of National Insurance contributors, as I mentioned earlier, has gone over the figure of 19.5 million, for the first time in the history of our country. And everything points to the number of unemployed falling below 3 million in July, for the first time since 2008.

As regards the public accounts, the deficit stood at the close of 2018 at 2.5% of the Gross Domestic Product, that is, 0.6% better than the previous year. This positive figure has allowed Spain, as you were informed by the media, to exit the corrective arm of the excessive deficit procedure of the European Union that we have been under since 2009.

For the first time since the start of the crisis, the public authorities as a whole have a primary surplus, while the public debt has also fallen to 97.1% of GDP, slightly better than expected.
But we won't conform with that, we want more. Our goal is to clean up the public accounts, reduce the overall deficit of the public authorities to 2% of GDP this year, and place the public debt at 95.8% of GDP this year.

Despite everything, Honourable Members, we must not be complacent. And we must not be complacent because, firstly, if we have learned anything over the last decade, it is that growth is not enough. This growth must be solid, with increased productivity and competitiveness. It is not enough just to grow. And we also need the fruits of this growth to be redistributed to the whole of society to reduce the unacceptable inequalities that a good part of the Spanish population is suffering from.

It is not enough to create jobs, these jobs must be of a certain quality, and correctly remunerated so that the 14% of our workers who are officially poor workers, can reach the end of the month. It is not enough to just reduce the public deficit, which is clearly important, we must also recover public investment, and underpin social investment after years of a deteriorating Welfare State. Only by doing this will growth be compatible with equality. Only by doing this will we shown we have learned from the last economic and financial crisis that growth without social cohesion and social cohesion without growth are not possible.

Secondly, we must not remain complacent to the uncertainties of the international situation. Hence, we must be prudent. Increased protectionist tensions and the doubts that have still not been dispelled in relation to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union are realities that we must be keenly aware of when, firstly, seeing and conceptualising the economic context of our country. And we must also clearly know what the government's programme is that will be pushed through.

And finally, it would not be prudent to trust everything to this buoyant economic period which we are clearly enjoying, despite certain difficulties. That is because economic cycles are governed by their own laws. Furthermore, our economy is facing structural reforms that cannot and should not be postponed.

We need reforms, as I said earlier, on education and active employment policies, reforms that allow investment to be diversified territorially and our trading relations around the world. Reforms in the job market to foster entrepreneurship, innovation, a greater dimension for the business fabric which at present is highly fragmented in our country. Reforms to guarantee the competitiveness of our industrial energy sector, which must become increasingly greener. Reforms which, in short, allow us to maintain our Welfare State, and accordingly, modernise our tax system and our regional and local financing systems.

Honourable Members, I will now move on to outline the measures I propose to this House in each one of these six goals for this term of office.

The first goal, as I mentioned, is our job market and the public pension system.

Whenever a technological revolution, such as the one we are going through at this time, takes place, you know this as well as I do, countries face a dual challenge: on the one hand, they must modernise their productive fabric, and they must also modernise their education system.

Furthermore, we must also modernise our employment frameworks, the social protection networks and the mechanisms for redistribution in order to guarantee social justice and protect those who will be most affected by this technological disruption.

This revolution represents a great opportunity for Spain to resolve the structural problems in its job market. Let me explain, in the last 12 months, this government has approved, with the contribution and support of other parliamentary forces, the rise in the minimum wage to 900 euros a month; we approved the Master Plan for Dignified Work, and we regulated the recording of hours worked so as to guarantee respect for limits on timetables and the remuneration of overtime.

And that is just the start of the modernisation of our labour system.

It is necessary to implement a cross-cutting raft of some 10 measures, in my opinion, the first point being a new Workers' Statute that protects rights and regulates new labour relations.

It is clear that we must comprehensively update our Workers' Statute which dates back to 1980 because digital platforms and robotics have completely reshaped classic business concepts of employed workers, and even of independent contractors, as we are continually seeing in the media and in our immediate surroundings, I am convinced, of family members and friends of all you Honourable Members.

In as short a time as possible, Honourable Members, I undertake to bring a draft law before this House based on social dialogue; a new Workers' Stature that is based on the paradigm of "decent work" of the United Nations and the ILO, which demands, among other aspects, that permanent employment be the standard form of employment, the usual method for hiring. A Workers' Statute that is technically solvent and that provides legal certainty to all parties. In short, a Workers' Statute for the coming generations.

And all of this without prejudice to urgently addressing measures, within the framework of social dialogue, to repeal the more harmful aspects of the labour reform imposed in 2012.

Secondly, we will promote the incorporation of young people into the job market through aid, through work experience programmes and also through active employment policies. But, above all, what we are going to do is approve an Intern Statute that will protect those who take their first steps in the labour market, fostering their remuneration and avoiding the unlimited back-to-back periods of work experience.

Thirdly, we will approve a Strategic Return Plan to recover the professional talent of those Spaniards who were forced to go abroad, above all, young people, and particularly researchers and scientists.

Fourthly, we will approve an Equality Act in our job market, which I will refer to later.

Fifthly, we will transform active employment policies to guarantee lifelong training and improve opportunities for the long-term unemployed.

We also propose to restructure and simplify unemployment benefits, with the aim of increasing the coverage rate and the amount of protection for those who need it.

In sixth place, within the period of one year, we will approve a new Master Plan for Dignified Work, which has already shown such good results.

In seventh place, we will develop better working conditions for independent contractors, make their employment rights universal and reduce administrative burdens. We will modify during this term of office, Honourable Members, the special regime so that they contribute according to their real income, and we will continue to increase the social protection of this group of workers, as we have also done over these last 12 months, thanks to the contribution and support of some parliamentary groups, with the aim of bringing their status in line with those of employed workers.
In eighth place, we will strengthen the support for social economy companies as models of sustainable, integrating business models that generate quality jobs.

In ninth place, we will push through a great social and political pact to streamline timetables, so that Spanish workers, above all, Spanish women, have the same possibilities to combine their personal, family and work life.

And finally, we will jointly address, together with the social stakeholders, an income agreement to improve wages for both male and female workers, the launch pad for which will obviously be growth and the rise in the minimum wage in line with the provisions of the European Social Charter.

The challenge, Honourable Members, clearly consists of placing our country at the vanguard of the technology transformation. But also of placing our country at the forefront of a new economic system in which the whole of society, and not just a privileged few, benefit.

But we not only need employment measures. In order to win the future of employment, we must also win the knowledge challenge and adapt our education model to new times.
The future will undoubtedly be won by a society that has prepared professionals, researchers and male and female business leaders that are capable of innovating. In the past, Honourable Members, we gave over the first two decades of our lives to education and the rest to using this training in our professional lives. We now have the need to undergo ongoing training to acquire new skills, to be in continuous development, and consequently, we are under an obligation to offer our citizens a model that responds to this reality.

That is why I propose, Honourable Members, to convert Spain into the first European country to recognise the right to lifelong education. This will mean making a great effort, a significant and major change whereby we will have to create training systems that haven't existed to date, Honourable Members; we are going to have to develop an education ecosystem made up of universities, public centres, but also private vocational training centres and private companies.

This ecosystem will allow us to offer courses and education paths that are sufficiently flexible and adapted to the employment reality in which we now live so that our citizens have the chance to start again professionally if they so wish and when they so need.

Just look, a few days ago, I read an emotive story of a man who started work - yes, another one, Honourable Members - when he was seven years old, in the countryside and, despite that, he walked 15 kilometres each day to go to night school and graduate, which he eventually did. This same man, now retired and looking after his grandson, has passed Compulsory Secondary Education. That is Spain, Honourable Members.

We must remember these examples to inspire society to always continue learning. And we must guarantee the opportunities to do this.

Honourable Members, I am convinced that in the future our citizens will have jobs that are more closely aligned with their interests, their passions and their creative capabilities. We must struggle and work to that end, which is why it is essential that we make the effort to learn what the times are telling us.

New employment laws, new opportunities for growth in knowledge and in citizen training to further develop stable jobs and also well-paid remuneration for this work.

These factors - stability and quality jobs - are fundamental, Honourable Members, if we want to consolidate one of the main pillars of the Welfare State, which is the public pension system.

On this matter, political agreement and social dialogue were on the verge of being achieved before snap elections were held on 28 April. But this political and social agreement, within the Toledo Pact, is now more fundamental and essential than ever.

In my opinion, we have very sound foundations on which to strengthen our system. And I also believe that there is a clear political will in this House to avoid undermining the purchasing power of pensioners.

That is why it is necessary to consolidate updates in line with the real CPI, which was done back in December, and eliminate the current update index; reduce the gender gap with close attention to minimum and non-contributory pensions; and reformulate the sustainability factor in line with the social agreement reached in 2011.

I propose, Honourable Members, to reconcile these goals with the elimination, and this is a commitment I also take on before you, within the next five years, of the deficit of the social security system. To do that, we will also study new formulas for financing that guarantee the sustainability of the public pension system.

These measures will be complemented by restructuring discounts, which is clear, and there is already agreement on the part of the Toledo Pact committee, allocated exclusively at finding work for the most deprived in the job market.

In short, Honourable Members, what I propose in this first part of my speech is to further develop social justice, with a new Workers' Statute, with an action plan to tackle unemployment, with a firm ambition in education determined by the government and also by Parliament, and to renew the Toledo Pact.

I will now develop the measures to tackle the technological revolution.

In the next four years, data traffic, Honourable Members, will multiply by five. The Internet of Things will ensure that everything is interconnected, and consequently, emit information: vehicles, household appliances, the sports shoes we run in, light bulbs. Artificial intelligence, bio-technology, big data are all processes that will transform, and are indeed already transforming, the world, economy, power relations, as has always happened, for example, with technological revolutions.

But there is a major difference between these technological revolutions and the present one, which is that it is the first time that Spain has been in a position to head up this digital revolution. Because we have all the tools to do so and hence cannot afford to waste this opportunity.

Very few people know this, Honourable Members, but we should highlight this, and I wish to do so time and again, Spain is the European country with the most extensive fibre optic coverage for households, at 77.4%. There is more fibre optic in our country that in the main European economies together.

In fact, Spain is the fifth leading country in the European Union and the eighth in the world with the greatest inclusive Internet. In short, we have the best keys to the future. Spain has just been chosen, and I was recently with our scientists in Barcelona, to install the supercomputer Mare Nostrum 5, which is a great technological infrastructure that also shows that when we cooperate, in this case the City Council of Barcelona, the Regional Government of Catalonia, the Government of Spain and also the European institutions, we can do great things for our country, and also for Catalonia and for Barcelona. Progress like this should not be an exception, but the norm. It is only within the framework of investor stability that we can exploit the full potential of our country and offer a response to the main demands, to the main challenges of the sector.

The government, as you know, over these last 12 months of the last legislature, approved the Spanish R&D+i Strategy, which is the foundation of the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy that we will present before the end of the this year. This will address the ethical impact, the labour impact, the economic and social impact of this type of technology, and we are going to invest, I can tell you this now, in a decisive fashion. We are going to convert Spain into a benchmark country. Because we cannot allow ourselves to be the only country out of all the European countries, above all of the main economies, that is not pushing on with investment in R&D+i. We need to invest more, and reach this 2% of GDP, which is the European Union average.
To achieve that, Honourable Members, I propose something very straight-forward, which I have explained to each and every parliamentary group present here today, and that I have spoken about with groups of scientists, which is that this legislature must be the legislature of the Pact for Science. One of the goals will be the gradual increase in investment in R&D+i, to stand, as I just mentioned, at the level of the EU average.

We strongly and firmly support the transformation of our business fabric through the creation, I can announce this now, of a public entity to finance innovation, entrepreneurship, the digital transformation and the ecological transformation. In other words, we are going to set up a public entity, I repeat, to finance innovation, entrepreneurship, the digital transformation and the ecological transformation that integrates in the same groups the existing public credit entities and programmes.

And thanks to the National Entrepreneurship Strategy, which we set in motion 12 months ago, we will approve a Start-Up Act that will recognise the specific nature of these new companies, and also their demands and the tax breaks for their financing and development.

Just look, the cities of Madrid and Barcelona are already on the list of the 10 European cities to see the creation of the most start-ups in 2018. Hence, we are not talking about achieving, but rather consolidating what has already been achieved and of extending this to more territories.

When we refer to the digital economy, we are also clearly talking about SMEs. In innovation and digitalisation, SMEs have a unique opportunity that they are already harnessing. Let me give you some figures to show you the extent of what is happening in our primary fabric, which is SMEs. 18% of SMEs already sell over the Internet. 7% perform cross-border sales, thus logically extending their markets. Our SMEs have obtained more than 3.3 billion euros from the European Union for investments in R&D+i. And we are the country that is heading up the most collaboration projects in this field in the whole of the European Union. That is why, at the start of next year, we will approve the Strategic Framework for SMEs 2030, which will be set in motion immediately. In addition, we must increase the weighting of industry in our productive sector to reach 20% of GDP, which is what the European Union recommends, to which end we will push through a State Pact for Industry, which we hope will be an agreement to define a comprehensive policy, sustainable in time, to contribute to improving our productivity and the competitiveness of our economy, making this sector a driver of growth and of stable, quality jobs.

The digital transformation will also be a key instrument in our Strategic Plan to support cultural industries, the creative industries, with particular attention to the audio-visual sector and videogames. We will strengthen the digitalisation of content in all areas as a way of preserving the cultural heritage of our country. But, Honourable Members, culture is much more than the industrial sector. Accordingly, we will complete the development of the Artists' Statute during this term of office, which has also been the subject of consensus by the different parliamentary groups in the last term of office, we will set up the Copyright Office and approve, hopefully in this term of office, a Patronage Act that the third sector needs, particularly the cultural sector.

Digitalisation must also filter through to the public sector to facilitate and reduce bureaucracy and increase the efficiency of resources. We will give a major boost - we are committed, including me personally, I can assure you of this, a major boost - to e-government and we will implement tools such as the Citizen File 2020 platform, which will be a single space containing the information and the formalities for multiple relations between citizens and the public authorities. In addition, we are going to include artificial intelligence tools in such areas as healthcare to improve diagnoses and optimise resources. Digitalisation offers endless possibilities to facilitate people's lives. To achieve that, we must also facilitate their connectivity and guarantee digital rights, protecting them from possible attacks and security breaches.

To that end, Honourable Members, we are going to develop the Digital Citizen Strategy; we are going to implement a social voucher for Internet access for the most deprived and we are also going to develop training services for those at risk of digital exclusion. And at the same time, we will push through a Digital Rights Charter and we will create a Digital Certificate to measure the level of respect for these rights by the private sector. And we will also regulate the requirements of the right to a digital will and we will prepare a national strategy to combat fake news. In order to use digital products with every security, Honourable Members, we will approve the Cybersecurity Plan and set up the National Cybersecurity Forum, and we will also boost the Cybersecurity

Coordination Office between the National Police and the Guardia Civil and we will set up the Cybersecurity Operations Centre.

Honourable Members, it is necessary to make a decisive commitment to science and knowledge to train the human capital that all these challenges require. To that end, the new Education Act must cater for this problem. We will invest more resources in the Digital Transformation of Education Plan, particularly the Vocational Training Plan, and we will commit to innovation in education and to the digital skills of teachers, pupils and education centres.

In the period of one year, Honourable Members, I undertake to you to include a module on digitalisation in each qualification under vocational training studies. We are going to decisively commit, Honourable Members, in this term of office, to vocational training. We will design 80 new associated offers, including smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence, big data, virtual and augmented reality, collaborative robotics, autonomous vehicles, drones, 5G networks and the design of videogames. 80 new attractive qualifications for our young people adapted to today's job market.

It is also necessary to foster scientific and technological vocations, the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic) subjects. Just look, let me quote you a figure: the number of students that opt for these subjects is decreasing each year, particularly among women. And the reality is that the demand for highly qualified professionals is rising. It is estimated that by the year 2020, there will be 756,000 vacant job positions in the sector of information and communication technologies. Consequently, we are divorcing universities from the real world, which is unacceptable.

That is why I announce to you that we will propose a new constitutional law for the university sector agreed upon by the education community, the social stakeholders, regional governments and also the parliamentary forces.

That is, in short, the government's vision that I propose to you, on this matter, Honourable Members: a commitment to science and innovation; the strategy of leadership in the industrial revolution 4.0 and an education reform that adapts the knowledge taught to the real world in which we live.

Honourable Members, as I said to you, the third of these six goals of the government's action is the ecological transition.

The climate emergency is not only a challenge for the country, it is a global challenge. A challenge that finds expression in the Paris Agreements, the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Energy and Climate Framework of the European Union.

It is our duty to ensure that a sustainable economic model also offers opportunities to sectors related to the energy transition and also to protect those affected by these changes. Allow me to also indicate the inter-generational dimension of the debate before us, because it is our young people who are saying this to us and that are placing themselves at the vanguard of a cause that is not only just, but also urgent. Over the last 12 months, Honourable Members, we have laid the foundations for the transformation of our energy model through the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework, which included the approval of the draft National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan and the Just Transition Strategy.

Of all the action plans presented to the European Commission, Honourable Members, Spain's plan was acknowledged as the most complete and the most thorough. We mapped out the course to follow over the next 12 months. We now need to continue making progress, through the approval, the sooner the better, of a Climate Change and Energy Transition Act. To do that, I propose to act, Honourable Members, in four areas. Firstly, at an international level, with Spain at the forefront of the multilateral response to this challenge. Secondly, at a State level, promoting the adaptation of our regulations, as we have done over these last 12 months. Thirdly, at a corporate level, fostering a great public-private alliance with our companies. And fourthly, at the level of our citizens, fostering a collective awareness, following in the wake of what our young people are calling for.

It is said, Honourable Members, that it is easier to change the law than the conscience. Relying on a growing complicity from society is our best guarantee, our best hope, to overcome this challenge. It is essential to tie sustainable growth in with the just ecological transition. And hence, I propose to move forward decisively in this field. Firstly, through a moral conviction; but also because there are tremendous opportunities in the green economy to create jobs and also to reduce the energy dependency of our country.

Once of the main stages for the fight against climate change, or better put, the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, is citizen mobility and town planning. That is why we are going to move in the three directions that I propose and on which I hope to attain a broad consensus from this House; firstly, through a Sustainable Mobility Strategy and Act, that acknowledges and guarantees the right to efficient, intermodal, connected and advanced mobility from the industrial sector. We will do this through the Strategic Plan for Comprehensive Support for the Automotive Sector, which will be implemented over the next six years, from 2019 to 2025. Secondly, through energy rehabilitation, with the commitment to act on some 100,000 dwellings a year in our country. And thirdly, by fighting relentlessly against pollution in cities - we will regulate the obligation for cities of more than 50,000 inhabitants to have low carbon emission zones, with restrictions on those most polluting vehicles.

I want to be quite clear in this field, Honourable Members, and I want to say this to all the public authorities, particularly to the local authorities - we will be particularly demanding on all public authorities. Nobody is going to stop Madrid Central [private vehicle-free area of central Madrid]. There will be no steps backwards. It is absolutely irresponsible to expose Spain to the risk of heavy fines from EU institutions and it is even more irresponsible to renounce the right of our citizens to breathe fresh air.

Aside from that, Honourable Members, the OECD has just clearly and overwhelmingly confirmed that environmental taxation is a pending issue in our country. We must not remain at the bottom of the EU table. It is not a question of collecting more in taxation but of discouraging a productive model with tremendous social, health and environmental costs. Furthermore, the government will make a commitment to the emission of "Green discounts" that tie the public debt into the financing of low carbon emission projects.

The transformation of our energy model must be fair with the regions and with the sectors affected by this paradigm shift, and must also be supportive and inclusive.

And we have made a great deal of progress on this in the last year, Honourable Members, for example, through the National Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty, which led to the improvement and unification of the electricity and thermic social vouchers, and the abolition of the so-called "sun tax". Measures that have a very clear and firm horizon which is to lower the price of electricity in homes.

But this transformation must contribute an added value to our economy. And, in this regard, Honourable Members, I wish to say to you that the Electro-intensive Consumer Statute is based on this philosophy of boosting the competitiveness of the industry by mitigating electricity costs for those companies in which this concept has a relevant, specific weight that we cannot ignore.

This measures illustrates, in my opinion, the path to follow, of off-setting costs, of exempting payments in exchange for being more efficient and, of course, for maintaining and creating jobs.
And along the same line, we undertake in this legislature, Honourable Members, to approve the State Circular Economy Strategy, which will include a Single-Use Plastics Act to reduce the generation of waste and foster sustainable consumption.

Sustainability must impregnate all sectors of industrial development. That is why we are going to approve a plan with a horizon of 2030 for the ecological transition and decarbonisation, maximising the opportunities for industries and improving their competitiveness.

The tourism sector is also key for our economy, as you are well aware, and in this regard we will push through the Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2030.

There is something which goes unnoticed on many occasions in the public eye, Honourable Members, which is that our country, Spain, is the country with the most biospheres in the world. In order to rise to this level of heritage, we will implement two measures: the first is the State Conservation of Biodiversity Strategy and the other is the Green Infrastructure, Connectivity and Ecological Restoration Strategy. It is not only down to us, Honourable Members, to preserve our environmental wealth, but also to make it a level for the development of inland Spain, the wrongly called "empty Spain".

Honourable Members, we are facing the threat of a lack of strategic resources; we are clearly seeing this in the form of droughts this year. To that end, we need to act in such areas as water management, which is why I propose approving a new framework based on the recognition of the right to access to water, sustainability and the self-sufficiency of our river basins.

Spain wants to be, can be and must be a global benchmark in this fight for a just ecological transition. We want to be recognised as a country that not only meets its commitments, that not only is aware of the consequences that the inaction I mentioned would bring with it, but that also converts these challenges into a level to bring change for the better.

A country that makes progress in reducing our energy dependency by 15 points in a decade. That makes progress in developing clean energies and improves our competitiveness. That makes progress, in short, so that Spain stands at the vanguard of the new environmental enlightenment that will mark this era of transformation.

Honourable Members, the subject of the fourth pillar of my programme is the commitment, as I said at the start of my speech, to the feminist cause and the defence of equality at any cost.

I quoted a figure earlier, and it seems important to me to once again quote it so that we can be aware of the tremendous challenge we face as a society: 1,000 women murdered from gender-based violence since January 2003. The latest two murders, one yesterday in Vilalba, and another allegedly today in Calpe. A hug for your loved ones and solidarity for those who are suffering from gender-based violence.

It is not a question of improving the figures but of ensuring that there is not another single murder of this type. There is undoubtedly more violence against women; one in three victims of sexual offences does not receive the compensation due to them. And of those who receive it, the amount is derisory, little more than 160 euros. That is why we adopted the most pressing measures, and the Government of Spain is committed to implementing the State Pact to Combat Gender-based Violence.

We will also take the initiative, which I feel is important, to ensure that progress is made in this field throughout the European Union, where there is no global definition of femicide or standard legislation on gender-based violence.

Women not only suffer from violence and assaults, they continue to suffer from inequality from the outset. An eloquent example of this is the wage gap, which obviously affects the amount of pensions that are received upon retirement.

In the last legislature, it is true that we began down a path to abolish the wage gap and to bring paternity and maternity leave onto a par, and we are going to push through, as I said in the section on employment, the Equal Treatment and Opportunities at Work Act, which will precisely develop a better work/life balance. And we will also ratify Convention 189 of the ILO with the aim of consolidating equal employment and social security rights of those people who work as domestic help, who are predominantly women.

Glass ceilings undeniably still exist that prevent the professional development of a great many women in many professional fields, although fortunately not in all. Just look, 54% of women discharge managerial positions at work cooperatives. If they can do this in cooperatives, why can't they do it in the rest of companies?

Furthermore, today, and this is a figure that I believe is very illustrative of the harsh reality that women suffer from in our country, 83% of single-parent households are made up of women with children, and almost half (42.9%) of these households are at risk of poverty. Problems like these, and many others should find a response in what I can announce to you will be a Families Act, in plural, not in singular; a law that will provide a response to the new realities, such as large families in these times, such as single-parent families, multiple births and foster homes.

The discrimination of women in not a random act, it is the product of a patricidal society that has tolerated situations that discriminate against women at home, at work, in public and also in interpersonal situations as normal conduct.

At a sexual level, Honourable Members, this mentality grants men the right to use a woman's body while ignoring her wishes.

And for my government, sexual relations cannot exist without the express consent of the woman. Silence is not confirmation, which is why I can announce to you that we will amend the classification of sexual offences, because rape is rape. We don't want to see "wolf packs" or lone wolves in the streets of our country.

Other forms of discrimination against diversity exist. And diversity, on all fronts, Honourable Members, is the standard that best represents our country. The standard of the joy of living in a country that embraces difference as a symbol of human wealth. And if we are committed to diversity, we are committed to combating discrimination.

Nowadays our legal system has, and this is true, a broad set of measures to protect and recognise the rights of all people, regardless of the circumstances relating to disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, freedom of worship, etc.

But the reality is much more uncomfortable than the law. The shadow of hatred has returned unfortunately, and many groups still face stigmatisation and difficulties to different degrees in their daily lives. The number of "hate crimes" recorded by the State law enforcement agencies has increased in recent years, and history has made us recall that progress is not necessarily irreversible.
Two weeks ago, without looking any further, in the days in which the LGTBI group was celebrating Pride Week in the streets of the towns and cities of Spain, several homophobic attacks took place. To that end, we will implement and apply the Action Plan against Hate Crimes and push through the Comprehensive Law on Equal Treatment and Non-discrimination once and for all and amend the Gender Identity Act.

We are also going to propose that our Constitution adapts to the requirements contained in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, in other words, we are going to propose, as we did before the end of the last legislature, the amendment of Article 49 of our Constitution so that the term "disminuidos" [diminished] is removed, which I hope will be unanimously backed by this House.

Honourable Members, a society in which inequality grows will never be a truly free society. Our whole public system is sustained on these two broad pillars: liberty and equality. And when one fails, the whole building collapses. That is the fifth pillar of action that I will now refer to.

The pillar of social justice, not as a choice, but as a requirement for the progress of our societies, for the progress of us all. To that end, we need to create mechanisms that seek to pre-distribute, as well as re-distribute wealth. In other words, mechanisms that allow this wealth to be shared out more fairly from the time it is created. Hence the rise in the minimum wage to place it at the end of the legislature at 60% of the value of the average salary, as established in the European Social Charter, is essential.

Also strengthening stable insertion income to halt severe poverty is another of the measures that move in this direction. And it is also necessary, and I propose that we do this, to open up a serious debate on the proposal for a minimum living income tied in to the fight against child poverty. That is why we have allocated to this cause, to child poverty, 210 million euros, and this summer we have allocated 15 million euros to the VECA programme, as we did last year, aimed at funding summer leisure and lunches over the holiday period.

To that end, we have also pushed through the National Pact to Combat Child Poverty. And hence we come back, Honourable Members, to education, which is, in the end, the basis for equal opportunities. That is why we are going to strengthen public education as a guarantee of social cohesion, public education with resources and with a vocation for excellence, with free school materials for those who need it, with sufficient resources to prevent this scourge that our education system unfortunately suffers from, which is a high early drop-out rate.

We are going to make school attendance universal from 0 to 18 years, not by making it obligatory, but by promoting a large enough offer of public places, first of all, in nursery education. Local authorities, Honourable Members, may, I can announce this to you, allocate their surplus to this end, which could have an impact of some 300 million euros, and 30 million euros will be budgeted for those local authorities that do not post a surplus but which plan to build this type of infrastructure in their territory.

We are going to commit to free education from nursery schools right through to enrolment at university. We are going to undertake a thorough revision of the grant system, firstly, by increasing their provision; secondly, by simplifying and speeding up aid, which should also be allocated to post-graduate students. And lastly, we must prioritise the economic situation of families, because academic performance not only depends on merit, which is of course important, but also on the starting conditions of each person in life.

We will urgently undertake to modernise the basic school curriculum to ensure the comprehensive training of students and the development of key skills. I can announce to you that, to achieve this, we will set up the Curricular Development and Education Innovation Institute, in coordination with the regional governments and the education community.

We are ambitious, Honourable Members, in everything that affects the children and young people of our country, because there is nowhere better that we can place our legacy. We want Spain to become the best country in the world to be a child, from the right to education to the right to play, as recognised in the Salzburg Declaration. That will not only guarantee the future, but also a strong society in our country.

To do that, one of the first laws that unfortunately remains pending from the last legislature, from the last period of that legislature, was to pass through the Council of Ministers and Parliament a law that I am convinced will be applauded and backed by each of you Honourable Members, which is the Constitutional Law on the Comprehensive Protection of Childhood and Adolescence from Violence.

Honourable Members, our commitment to young people is also unquestionable. We will develop the National Plan to Encourage the Emancipation of Young People, and we will also speak about housing, because access to housing is indeed one of the main problems. At present it is seen by the young people of our country as a privilege and not as a constitutional right. We are aware that this is one of the main problems in Spain, which is why we need to make progress on it.

What I can announce to you, and what I propose to this House, Honourable Members, if I receive your confidence, is to push through a State Housing Act with the aim of recognising its social function, avoiding situations of residential exclusion and lack of shelter, and of regulating public service.

In addition, measures will be adopted to halt the abusive rises in rentals and the State Housing Plan will be revised with the aim of fostering affordable rents.
We want a Spain in which the Loong-term Care Act begins to work properly again. We included this in our Draft Budget but it unfortunately did not get approved, as a result of its rejection by a majority of this House. We will consolidate this bill through a new State Social Services Framework.

We will also include advanced remote assistance and the figure of the personal assistant to the portfolio of services offered by the system, so that our elderly folk can continue to live at home if they so wish. We will also recover the financing - the State's contribution to long-term care - which has sadly been cut in recent years.

Honourable Members, our public health system is the third most efficient in the world, a system which has fortunately recovered its universal nature as soon as we came to power, and which was also introduced by other progressive regional governments. In short, we have a great health system, which has in its professionals its best asset, although there is still clearly a lot of work to do.

We are going to work to extend the portfolio of basic health services, one of which will be oral health. And we will gradually abolish pharmaceutical co-payments for the most deprived.

As I have just explained, we are going to work for a Spain in which equality is the basis of our co-existence. But it is also necessary to do this from a regional perspective, thus not only guaranteeing social cohesion but also regional cohesion, and ensuring that these and other rights are equal for all citizens, wherever they may live.

Over these last four decades, Spain has culminated the more developed decentralisation process ever. It has done this by agreement, and never by imposition, from a profound respect for our rich diversity. The State of the Autonomies has clearly served to unite Spain. We have reduced the inequalities between different regions thanks to centralisation; the Spain of the autonomies, Honourable Members, was and is a great idea.

Despite that, there are still imbalances that we must courageously tackle to guarantee the equality of all Spaniards. One of these imbalances is infrastructures, which have served so much to join up our country - connecting regions means connecting opportunities; connecting regions means connecting citizens. If you don't believe that, ask the people of Granada.

Honourable Members, I undertake to push through a State Pact on infrastructures and transport that guarantees compliance with the high-speed train plan currently being implemented, that studies those connections that have been delayed for too long, such as to Cantabria and Extremadura, and which determines the investment in commuter trains and the necessary actions on the Mediterranean and Atlantic Corridors.

We also have ahead of us a fundamental challenge in relation to the autonomous regions, Honourable Members, which is the reform of our system of regional and local financing, specifying the needs and resources to strengthen the system: sufficiency, inter-territorial solidarity and our Welfare State, which is managed to a large extent by the regional governments.

We already took the first steps to recover ongoing dialogue with regional governments over these last 12 months of this legislature. And this same dialogue is essential for tackling this and other challenges, such as rural depopulation and the demographic challenge.

In many villages, Honourable Members, people have had to leave because there was no doctor or school close at hand, not because they wanted to leave. In many villages there is no chemist's, no bank branch or a Guardia Civil presence. And in this last regard, we will make developments on two fronts: first, by recovering the number of State law enforcement agency personnel lost over the seven years of the previous government. The 2019 Public Employment Offer is the largest of recent years, which means 2,500 new posts in the National Police and more than 2,200 in the Guardia Civil. Secondly, we will push through the Guardia Civil Infrastructure Plan, with a provision of 600 million euros over the next seven years. This change of trend will be maintained to guarantee something that is fundamental for us - the presence of the public security service in our villages.

Based on these guidelines approved in the last term of office, we will culminate the National Demographic Challenge Strategy. And what will we do to revitalise inland Spain? Firstly, guarantee access to public services, to territorial, physical and digital connectivity. Secondly, we are going to boost job creation, promote entrepreneurship, self-employment and also reduce administrative and fiscal burdens. And thirdly, we will give a renewed boost to the agri-food sector, promoting sustainable inland tourism and committing to fostering clean energies and the associated industrial fabric.

We want to see a Spain in which everyone chooses wherever they may want to live and do this under equal opportunities. This is a firm commitment of the government I intend to form, Honourable Members, if this House places its confidence in me.

Honourable Members, the sixth pillar is that of a Spain that must involve itself in a united Europe. The EU is more than a space for values and principles that define us. It is also our greatest defence in tackling the challenges than cannot be tackled alone. The five challenges I mentioned before: the technological revolution, climate change, employment, the sustainability of our Welfare State, to quote a few, can only be addressed with guarantees of success if we have a stronger European Union.
Migratory policy is one of the areas in which this is most pressing. Europe clearly needs regular and orderly migration, while at the same time combatting illegal immigration, which includes combatting the networks and mafias that traffic people, and we must do this based on two fundamental principles: responsibility and solidarity.
Spain has shown over this year that a responsible migratory policy can be combined with a supportive response in line with European values that are enshrined in our founding treaties.
In this regard, I wish to expressly mention and acknowledge on behalf of the parliamentary group I represent, although I am convinced that you will all agree with this, the extraordinary work of Maritime Rescue on our coasts, which has rescued some 50,000 human beings from tragedy in 2018.
Our migratory policy is also a policy that has proved to be effective. In the year to date, the number of unlawful arrivals has fallen by 27% on the same period of 2018. But we must do much more, particularly in two areas:
Firstly, we must push through a reform of the Common European Asylum System. And secondly, we must commit to cooperation with other key parties, particularly Morocco, and with the countries of origin and transit. The migratory phenomenon has a great potential for division, not only between European partners but also within societies. That is why we must decisively combat the instrumentalisation of this phenomenon, and strengthen development cooperation as a key factor.

Honourable Members, Europe is a project that has brought us together as a country and as a society on three fronts: a Europe of citizens, extending rights and liberties, strengthening European 'demos'. Dreaming, and why not, of a European Constitution in the future. I dream of that. Secondly, a Europe of nation States, developing cooperation between countries in the fields of industry, energy, the digital challenge and cybersecurity, of migration, foreign policy and common defence, of compliance with the Paris Agreements and the demand for our continent to be neutral in terms of C02 emissions by 2050. Thirdly, a Europe of the regions. In the 'urban century', a regional and local perspective is essential if we want to respond effectively to the challenges and further legitimise the European ideal.

Three focuses that identify a longing of a Spain of the autonomies in a federal Europe. A new area of sovereignty that does not undermine the sense of belonging. No-one is less Spanish, or less Catalan, less Basque, less from Madrid or Andalusia as a result of being European; quite the opposite, we strengthen our identities as a result of being European.
We must learn the lessons of recent experiences, like Brexit. A process that defies the logic of the time and the sense of history, built upon a fallacy, upon a lie, which weakens democracy and destroys consensuses forged in British society.

Now, for the first time, there is almost total agreement between the political cycle in Spain and the one opening up in the European Union, and we also have a road map set by the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Hence, we have a unique opportunity to align our policies from this triple perspective: Spain, Europe and the United Nations, through the 2030 Agenda.
What is more useful? To exercise a small and useless sovereignty from a position of isolation? Or to be part of a common space, sharing sovereignty to address challenges that overwhelm us as a country? In this quandary, the answer is clear: share, not divide; integrate, not isolate.

Spain arrived to Europe later than it should have, but it arrived to stay and commit itself to the European ideal. Today, we take on a renewed leading role, of which the best example is the candidature of Josep Borrell, a Catalan and a Spaniard, to head up European diplomacy.

Honourable Members, Europe is the greatest area of solidarity, social justice and democracy in the whole world. We are the leading global donor to development cooperation, above all in Africa. Europe, as an ideal, lives way beyond its borders in its commitment, for example, to the Sahel, to Palestine or to Latin America. We live in a transcendental time for the future of the EU, Honourable Members, a time in which what is important is not thinking about what Spain can get out of it, but rather about what Spain can offer the EU. We are an ideal intermediary - unique, I would even say, in its capacity for dialogue. Our ties with Latin America, our Mediterranean roots and our unquestionable presence in Africa are the best example of this.

From the government, Honourable Members, I offer the firm and decisive commitment to move forward in this social Europe. I will spur on the social dimension of the European Union through the European Unemployment Benefit Scheme, a common minimum wage and a binding strategy on gender-based violence.

Similarly, it is essential to have a genuine European budget, a budget that consolidates strategic lines for our country, such as the Common Agricultural Policy, essential for our countryside, our farmers and livestock owners. We will work for a CAP geared towards maintaining profitability, encouraging a living and attractive rural environment for our young people, acknowledge the fundamental role of women in agriculture, sustainability, quality and innovation in processes. To that end, we will approve the National Strategic Plan with joint financing - EU, Spanish State and regional governments - of more than 50 billion euros during the term it is in force.

Honourable Members, it is fundamental to complete the institutional architecture of the Euro. Spain has a great opportunity that it must not squander while other leading players have withdrawn. To that end, I undertake to head up the majority feeling of Spanish society - a pro-European government, and I call for the support of this House in what I consider to be a genuine State policy. Let's protect Europe as a necessary ideal and let's strengthen, at the same time, an EU that protects its citizens, its States and its territories.

Honourable Members, making the second transformation of Spain that we propose a reality will require a sustained commitment to more Spain in Europe. But it will also require a renewed external presence in a changing context that is subject to tremendous uncertainties. That is a State matter.

We are a medium-sized power with a geostrategic importance, but we also have a global vocation. Our vision of the world must be based on effective multilateralism in tackling global challenges that cannot be faced from a position of isolation, but rather from an open and united society like ours. In exercise of this vocation, today more than 2,500 men and women from our Armed Forces take part on 15 international missions. 2018 was the 25th anniversary of the first casualty suffered by our Armed Forces on international peacekeeping missions, when Lieutenant Muñoz Castellanos was mortally wounded while taking medicines to the city of Mostar, in Bosnia. His memory evokes that of all men and women who laid down their lives on missions that not only make us proud as Spaniards, but also as a society committed to democratic values and human rights both within and beyond our borders.

Spain, in its foreign action, must open itself up with the same determination as its companies and entrepreneurs do, aware of its real weight and of our strengths.

The American continent will always be a key area for Spain's foreign action. I propose to press on with strengthening a relationship full of symbolism, cultural and economic ties based on four lines of action. Firstly, a multilateral space as a dynamic for coordination on matters such as the extension of language and culture. Secondly, increasing resources in development cooperation with Ibero-America and aligning them with the goals of the 2030 Agenda, increasing trade exchanges to benefit our companies. And strengthening the human dimension, with actions on social and migratory matters. Our involvement in the negotiation of the historical agreement between the EU and MERCOSUR, within the framework of the G-20 meeting, is the best example of the role we can play as a country. Spain must continue to be an important player in helping strengthen democratic institutions in Latin America. And to achieve that, in relation to its sister nation that is the subject of controversy in its domestic policy - Venezuela - it is necessary to maintain our commitments to the International Contact Group based on a peaceful outcome to the crisis, negotiated between Venezuelans and culminating in elections under all due guarantees and the supervision of the international community. Similarly, it is essential to strengthen our commitment to overcome the humanitarian crisis and protect the Spanish colony in that country, whose suffering we feel as our own.
In a world increasingly less Euro-centric, Asia is one of the most important power bases. In this regard, I can warn you that the relationship between Europe and China is undoubtedly one of the most important strategic dilemmas of our time, and Spain must decisively involve itself in this situation, both as Spain and also as Europe. This vision must be accompanied by the strengthening of closer bilateral ties with other countries in a key area for the economy and for global trade. Globalisation is going into a new era based on a key concept: connectivity infrastructures between Europe and Asia. We must be present in this genuine paradigm shift, but we must also do this based on the defence of multilateralism and an international rule-based trade system.
The continent of Africa is another framework of priority action for Spain. Both its geographic proximity and out of a moral conviction, we are committed to a region called on to undergo a great transformation in the coming decades and which will double its population by 2050. The 3rd Africa Plan, recently approved at the Council of Ministers with the collaboration of the previous Lower House, will be one of the most important pillars for action in this regard.

Honourable Members, defending peace and security means having the right resources. To that end, we will continue to gradually increase the defence budget in line with commitments to our partners and to strengthen our capabilities. We have been and will continue to be one of the main proponents of the Europe of defence. Spain advocates this vision in a much broader framework, that of NATO, and must realise this by taking part in as many initiatives as contribute to greater European integration in this field. It is necessary to boost a genuine culture of national security; involve society in defence as a collective task, as an element of civic cohesion. We must move forward in the comprehensive model of crisis management, with a decisive commitment to improving communications infrastructures and cybersecurity, a field in which the strength of our democratic system is also at stake. We will be present as a country in the debate on the protection of global common spaces, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cyberspace. And similarly, we will strengthen our commitment in the fight against terrorism and violent radicalisation - a challenge that requires the right tools to guarantee our security and a commitment to prevention and social cohesion policies to reduce this real risk to our co-existence.

In short, a Spain that is open to the world. And a Spain that is united to strengthen a Europe that is more necessary now than ever. I have mentioned, Honourable Members, the six main pillars on which my proposed programme is based and I would ask for your confidence on a majority basis. This is a programme to once again modernise and transform Spain; to open it to the world and address these six major challenges as they are - genuine opportunities for our country.

And to achieve these goals it is necessary to strengthen our institutional architecture. Society demands that we make progress on rights and liberties; on transparency, accountability and democratic regeneration. Ours is a mature democratic society, a society that rebels when authority is exercised unfairly or arbitrarily. The strength of our country lies in this civil conscience, and this constitutes, by the way, one more reason that justifies repealing the Gag Act, a commitment I wish to expressly take on with this House.

So that each generation can make the legal system in which it lives its own, it is necessary to make progress in the effective recognition of new rights and maintain the guarantee of those that already exist. Some months ago, we felt deeply moved by the story of Ángel Hernández and his wife María José Carrasco, who was suffering from multiple sclerosis. This was a genuine wake-up call for the collective conscience of a society that has repeatedly shown its predisposition to regulate the right to euthanasia and a dignified death. We are now going to push through this regulation, defending the right to freely choose right to the end and to receive the best medical care in this very tough situation.

With the same enthusiasm, it is necessary to push through a Digital Rights Charter. There are those who refer to data as the petrol of the 21st Century. Well, let's avoid by all means that the indiscriminate exploitation of data constitutes a danger to our dignity and creates new privileges.

Hence, the recognition of new rights, but also better conditions under which to exercise others that require special protection. We need to push through the Freedom of Conscience Act to provide society with greater resources in the fight against intolerance on all fronts.

With the same philosophy, we must abolish the 'voto rogado'. This is a genuine democratic tragedy. It is intolerable that barely 6 out of every 10 Spaniards resident overseas exercised their right to vote on 28 April. A Spanish citizen holds this status regardless of where they may live.

Similarly, I propose to push through the Animal Well-being Act at a State level. Our citizens have firmly called for us to combat the cruelty and suffering of animals. Society also demands that we courageously regulate gaming, which has extended out of control in the streets of our country, particularly in poorer neighbourhoods. We must act firmly to present the emergence of gambling addicts and foster, in short, alternative, more healthy, leisure pursuits.

Honourable Members, democratic regeneration means re-legitimising our institutions after years of political stalemate. That leads to greater democracy and means addressing reforms of our institutional system that cannot be delayed. And to do that it is fundamental to act in the field of justice. We need an effective, accessible, modern and reliable justice system that guarantees the principle of effective judicial protection and strengthens the confidence of citizens in our institutions. In this regard, I wish to convey the offer of a State Pact for the Reform of Justice; a proposal with two mainstays: its modernisation and adequate funding. At a regulatory level, it is fundamental to tackle the drafting of a new Criminal Procedure Act, as well as overturn harmful reforms such as the statute barring of the investigation of complex cases. I also feel it is essential to overturn the regulatory change from 2014, with the aim of recovering the Spanish system of universal jurisdiction. Similarly, we must move towards a new system of access to the judicature. It is fundamental to develop mechanisms that guarantee equal opportunities.

Honourable Members, just one figure for you: in 2014, corruption was one of the three main problems facing our country for 60% of all Spaniards. Now, five years on, this figure has fallen to 26%. But we must not lower our guard. That is why I can announce to you that I will push through the Comprehensive Law to Protect Witnesses and Complainants in corruption cases, with all due guarantees for those who report corrupt practices and the maximum social reproach for conduct that corrodes the foundations of democracy. It is essential to more effectively regulate conflicts of interest so as to avoid discrediting the mechanism of revolving doors. The Conflict of Interest Office must act as an independent authority when issuing opinions. These must be public, in compliance with the principle of transparency. Regenerating democracy also means ending the validity of obsolete figures, such as privilege. It is important for us to do away with political privilege in this term of office. I ask all of you, including those from my party, for us to find a way between us all to reach an agreement to renew institutions submerged in an interim situation for an unacceptable period of time. I refer to the General Council of the Judiciary, the Ombudsman, the Presidency of the Transparency Council and the Council of RTVE. The government will always commit to the validity of the principles of equality, merit, ability, prestige and broad consensus in elections to these bodies.

Lastly, regenerating our democracy also means honouring the democratic memory of Spain. That is why we will give a new boost to policies for the redress of victims of the Spanish Civil War and of the Dictatorship. Following the United Nations recommendations, the State will directly assume the management of policies and actions that seek the truth, justice and redress. Spain is the leading European Union country and the second worldwide in the number of missing people. We must not feel that this fact is alien to us.
Honourable Members, we are facing a passionate time, a time that will go down in the annals of history as a unique time in the progress of humanity. It is down to us whether this time in Spain sees hope conquer frustration.

Now is the time to make progress. We can now start to correct the structural deficits of our labour and job market. We can now start to lay the foundations for our leading position in the digital revolution. We can now reaffirm our firm and unequivocal commitment to the ecological transition. We can now all continue down the path opened by feminism in the cause for equality. We can now start to consolidate our Welfare State to combat any form of social inequality. We now have the chance to stand at the forefront of the transformations that the Europe we believe in needs.
Honourable Members, Spain is not divided into 17 autonomous regions and two autonomous cities: Spain is united in its diversity through 17 autonomous regions and two autonomous cities. That is the Spain we believe in. And rest assured that our best time is not in the past, but is yet to come. In order to build this Spain I ask for the confidence of this House. Not for me but for Spanish society; not for me but for Parliament, which can only start to effectively operate when a government is formed. And the Spanish people have opted to move forwards; they have asked us to move forwards. And we are in a position to do so based on an agreement with the different parliamentary groups that I would like to thank for their dialogue, most particularly Unidas Podemos.
Honourable Members, we come from two different left-wing traditions. Until now, we have spoken a great deal about our differences; and it has not been easy to find a point of convergence. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy. And what we are facing is very worthwhile. The hopes of millions of people are looking to us. We must now get down to work to push through all those issues we agree upon, that unite us. And what unites us can be summarised in just a few words; the promise of the left wing. Ecologically sustainable progress and the just distribution of this progress. Or if you prefer it another way; a society of men and women who are free and equal, in harmony with nature.

Many people have put a great deal of effort and expectations to unite our forces, but also much more than our forces: our sensitivity, our intelligence, our experience, to improve people's lives and, in this way, change the history of Spain. We must heed this call, guided by the example of the generations that came before us and the Constitution we inherited.

Honourable Members of the conservative bench, I know that you would have preferred to have headed in another direction. But that was decided by the Spanish people on 28 April. I am not asking you to support this project, but to pull down your barriers. I ask you to allow Spain to have a government. What I ask you, what I demand of you, is to allow Spain to move forward.

Thank you!

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation