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Appearance at "EFEminista Breakfast" to present Minister for Economy and Business

Thursday 5 September 2019

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, Acting President of the Government.

Madam Speaker of the Lower House. Mr Speaker of the Upper House. Mr President of the agency EFE. Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, good day to you all.

First of all, thank you very much for inviting me to an event, Fernando, Patricia, such as this one and of course for making it possible.

I wanted my first brief words to be to break the ice by telling you a short anecdote, which is that on 6 June last year, the Budget Department of the European Commission posted a very special photo on its Twitter account. This photo says a great deal about the person I have the honour to present at this event. In that picture, a smiling woman waves to the camera in the centre of the photo. It is hard to appreciate that this is Nadia Calviño, basically, because she is surrounded by almost 200 professionals that wanted to say goodbye to their boss. So many people that the cameraman had to step back so that all of the people that wanted to say goodbye with a smile could fit in the photo.

Classic opinion states that in life you can win respect in two ways: by inspiring fear or by inspiring affection. And in light of this photo, it is clear that Nadia falls into the second category, made up of those whose legitimacy and trust are won over through her credibility and professionalism, but also through her proximity and human warmth.

When I notified the President of the Commission - I don't know whether to say "Acting" or not - Jean Claude Juncker, that I wanted his Director-General for Budgets as a minister in the Government of Spain, he came to tell me - Jean Claude is someone very sardonic - that I was leaving a big crack in the European Commission, that I was taking away a woman of extraordinary value from his organisational structure and for the governability of the European Commission.

And after having worked with her all this time, I understand that perfectly.

And you may ask, in addition to her experience in Europe, which is undoubtedly very extensive and outstanding, what else did I base my desire to have her as a minister in the Government of Spain on? Well, I would set this out by summarising to the maximum her academic and professional profile.

She has a degree in Economic Science and Business Studies, and in Law. She is a member of the Senior State Commercial Technical and Economics Corps. She is a university lecturer and has worked as a senior official in several economic departments at the Ministry of Economy and of the European Commission and held, from 2014 to June 2018 the post of Director-General of Budget of the European Commission This is a very important post. In short, the power of her CV and her professional prestige are as unrivalled as her pro-European vocation.

But, in addition to her academic and professional merits, which are undeniable, Nadia perfectly embodies another type of virtue, that of prudent idealism, non-conformist pragmatism, her social conscience - which I believe it is also important to convey from an economic point of view, respectful rigour and her negotiating experience.

Knowing how to negotiate is an essential quality for dealing with our times, times in which the most useful policy is one that offers solutions to people's problems. To their most pressing demands.

So, I asked Nadia to join my team because she also knows how to negotiate. Because she is patient, because she exudes empathy, because she has a clear road map and also has a desire to forge consensus, and is a tough negotiator. And it is not only those outside of the government who are aware of this, but also those within.

I wanted Nadia in my team because she understands the position of the other party, because she listens and doesn't impose.

Our minister not only speaks French, English and German, she is also fluent in the language of international negotiations. She knows how to head up left and right-wing teams of ministers from countries in the north and in the south, with proactive counterparts and other tough nuts to crack.

In the Spain of our times, we must appreciate that knowing how to negotiate means wanting to negotiate. Knowing how to negotiate means wanting to negotiate and not imposing, but rather forging a consensus. And also appreciating that in a good negotiation you cannot have winners or losers, that a good negotiation leads to an intermediate position between the two extreme positions, with a solution that is never the starting position of one of the negotiating parties. The solution always lies in an intermediate course, a third course between two positions that seem opposing.

(There's a headline, Fernando)

Nadia's second quality that I wish to highlight is her profound respect, as I just mentioned. This disposition of Nadia is totally the opposite of the practice of insults. Unfortunately our political life needs to banish insults and impropriety. Our political debate needs, to some extent, to be cleansed, after having seen what we saw in the failed investiture attempt, and also in some other recent parliamentary sessions. I feel that insults and impropriety need to start to be banished from today's parliamentary life. Our public debate needs, as I just said, to be cleansed.

Someone thorough and full of reason does not need to insult; the power of their arguments hold enough weight. And yet, all too often, we bear witness to a display of insults which, furthermore, apply with particular fury among women. One day the victims are former ministers of the Government of Spain, such as Bibiana Aído or Leire Pajín, and another day it is the leader of another political party, like Irene Montero. To that end, I wish to publicly provide my support and recognition to my two party colleagues.

And I also want to publicly congratulate Irene Montero on the legal satisfaction she recently received. Insults are attacks on co-existence, both when applied to party colleagues and when addressed to political adversaries, or public leaders in another field. Sometimes those who show hatred and insult hide behind freedom of expression, which is obviously important. I believe that we must always advocate freedom of expression but insults are the opposite of freedom of expression. We want to advocate the maximum freedom of expression, which is why we propose to repeal the Gag Act, but we want to banish the insults that contaminate our public life.

Allow me to close by pointing to another issue that our politicians have learned in the last decade, and which Nadia applies in an exemplary fashion, which is that the economy cannot be detached from politics. But nor can it be detached from feminism, which is what calls us here this morning.

We must believe in this quality, in this qualitative value whereby thinking about household accounts and in the economics of daily lives must be at the heart of economic policy.

We must appreciate that the wage gap, which while this may be a little hyperbolic, can be understood in this context I refer to. The wage gap is as important as the risk premium.

Nadia is a trustworthy economist, and she is trustworthy because she knows that the limits of the economy cannot only be found on a spreadsheet.

A former political leader of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, used to say, "If a woman goes into politics, the woman changes; if many women go into politics, politics change". I would say that Nadia Calviño is one of those women who - by herself - is capable of changing politics, as was seen in those bodies in which she was surrounded by only men.

The Government of Spain has been able to observe, quite clearly, that when many women go into politics, things are done a different way. In a better way. In a more lasting and sounder fashion. Particularly at a time when, like now, the challenges are great.

The technological revolution, dignified employment, the climate emergency, equality between men and women, social justice and a united Spain in a Europe that must be much stronger. These are the five great transformations that we must address, and which cannot be put off or watered down.

Today, Nadia will speak to us about one of them, one which holds a leading position among the 370 proposals we made for a progressive government over the course of this week, which is the digital agenda.

We are immersed in the fourth industrial revolution. This is already a hackneyed expression, but no less true because of that. And it is time that Spain stood at the vanguard. The minister has the mandate to direct a digital transition full of potential, but also with collateral effects that must be taken into account on a political and social plane and also in terms of gender equality.

To close and move onto a less serious note, allow me to announce, Nadia, that your favourite film is 'Some like it hot'. And I think that Nadia particularly likes this film because she knows that in politics you often have to behave like Jack Lemmon or Tony Curtis. But I won't offer any further explanations of parallels so that everyone can interpret this how they may.

Nor do I want to go on more or seek to justify the feminist value of the government or of the minister. Because the reasons are there to see and because I can think of no-one better than Nadia to inaugurate these fantastic EFEministas Breakfasts.

Virginia Woolf said that, for most of history, 'Anonymous' was a woman. It is time to give a name and surnames to those women who mark our lives. And one of these names is that of Nadia Calviño, Minister for Economy and Business of the Government of Spain, who I will now leave you with.

Thank you very much.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation