Press conference by the President of the Government of Spain Pedro Sánchez after the G20 Summit in Rome

2021.10.31

Rome (Italy)

Good afternoon. How is it going? If you wish, we will start the press conference.

First of all, I would like to thank the media for attending.

Although, first of all, I would like to express my grief and shock at the heinous murder of Alex. On my own behalf and on behalf of the Government of Spain, I would like to convey my deepest condolences to his family, his friends and all the residents of Lardero. Spanish society is shocked, and again all my love to the family and friends and to the people of Lardero.

I am appearing, as you know, to present to you the main results, the main conclusions of the G20 summit that took place today and yesterday. A summit which, as you know, after a year and a half marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought a certain return to normality.

We have had, I think, frankly productive discussions. I am satisfied both with what we have achieved as a country and the role Spain has played in this summit, as well as with the results of the summit.

First of all, I would like to highlight and thank the extraordinary work and hospitality of the Italian presidency, which has been able to steer the G20 ship in a very difficult and complex year in which we had to achieve specific and urgent results, which is what the whole of world society is demanding of us.

I believe that the Italian presidency wanted to mark this glimmer of a return to normality by focusing the debates around three pillars. The first of these, as you know, is people, the second is the planet and the third is prosperity. And this means that the G20 has had three main priorities.

Firstly, the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the collective preparedness and response to future health emergencies.

Secondly, to address the climate and environmental emergency that threatens us.

And finally, to demonstrate our determination, that of society as a whole, of all countries, of all regions of the world, to emerge stronger from this crisis and to be able to build better futures.

These are all debates which, if I may say so, have profound implications for all countries, including our own, and are closely related to the objectives set by the Government of Spain: ecological transition, digital transformation, gender equality and social and territorial cohesion.

The intention of the Italian Presidency, which we fully share and support at all times, has been to promote political commitments and clear, concrete lines of action that go beyond voluntary declarations of intent. And I believe that together we have achieved that goal.

I shall now, if you will, assess the specific results of this summit, following the three main lines of work set out by the Italian Presidency.

Firstly, on people, i.e. the protection of people. The best thing we can do is to ensure universal and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

That is why the Government of Spain welcomes the fact that the G20 has signed up to the objective, the commitment that 70 per cent of the population of all countries in the world should be vaccinated by mid-2022, and that we have therefore committed ourselves to substantially increasing both the supply and access to and administration of vaccines in developing countries.

In order to make a tangible contribution to this goal, the Government of Spain has announced that it will fulfil its commitment to donate 30 million vaccines by the end of the year and that we will donate 20 million more vaccines in the first three months of 2022. In other words, Spain will vaccinate 50 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the first quarter of 2022. Slightly more than one for every Spanish citizen.

Secondly, to protect the planet, and before we leave in a few hours for COP 26 in Glasgow, we have agreed to increase the level of ambition of the international community on climate targets. In this sense, what do the conclusions recognise? They recognise the importance of keeping the objective of limiting the temperature increase to just 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.

Secondly, we confirm the strong willingness of G20 countries to mobilise 100 billion dollars per year in climate finance for developing countries, and to do so as soon as possible.

Most importantly, in my view, we are making clear the urgency of taking action with immediate impact. The best proof of this is that we have agreed to end public financing of new coal-fired power plants abroad by the end of 2021.

2021 must be, as the Government of Spain has interpreted it in its contributions to the G20 debate, the year in which coal is consigned to history. Spain has already travelled much of that road. In recent years, as you know, we have reduced coal-fired power generation by 90% and by 2022 we will have completely decommissioned 90 per cent of coal-fired thermal capacity.

Therefore, the agreement we have reached this weekend, in the opinion of the Government of Spain, is a crucial agreement so that others can also follow the path taken by the Government of Spain four years ago.

Third, the G20 aims to ensure prosperity for all. And I would especially like to highlight the work of the Ministers of Economy and Finance and their team, exemplified in two major advances that I believe are very welcome by the international community that we have achieved this month and that are ratified in the declaration that we, the G20 countries, have approved today.

Firstly, the agreement reached in the framework of the OECD and the G20 on the taxation of multinational companies: a global minimum tax. I believe this is a very important milestone for which the Government of Spain has worked hard, and it is a reflection of our common desire to stop the tax race to the bottom from a business point of view.

And secondly, the agreement to create a new fund in the International Monetary Fund, advocated, among other countries, by Spain, open to all vulnerable countries, not only low-income countries, but also middle-income countries, and which is called the Resilience and Sustainability Fund, as you know. It will allow for reforms and investments to move towards a just and sustainable future.

In this regard, the Government of Spain welcomes the G20's call to recycle up to 100 billion dollars of special drawing rights to feed this new fund and other existing instruments. And in this sense, Spain will also earmark 20 per cent of the special drawing rights allocated to it last August for the International Monetary Fund's trust funds. I repeat, 20 per cent of the special drawing rights that Spain was allocated to the International Monetary Fund trust funds will be used for this purpose. That is, a minimum of 350 million of these special drawing rights to immediately reinforce the poverty reduction and growth fund and the rest for the new Resilience and Sustainability Fund once it is established.

And to conclude, let me highlight three important messages that we are sending out in this declaration and which I think it is important to underline.

First, the G20's unprecedented level of commitment to gender equality. The empowerment of women. This shows that despite our differences, we all recognise that our future will only be sustainable if it is inclusive.

And secondly, thanks also to our country's impetus, it has a much more positive approach to the migration phenomenon than we have seen in previous statements. We recognise the contribution of international migration to economic development, and in turn, the importance of promoting orderly, legal and safe migration.

Finally, what we also do in this declaration - for a country like Spain this is important - there is a greater degree of commitment to protect biodiversity and the environment. From the protection of the seas and oceans to the fight against environmental crimes and the reforestation of the planet. This is in relation to the G20.

But as you know, I have also had the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with various presidents, prime ministers of other governments, and also heads of multilateral organisations.

We have had bilateral meetings with my Argentinian counterpart, with the Australian President, with the Canadian Prime Minister, with the Prime Minister of India today, with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, with the head of the WTO, with the new Secretary General of the OECD.

I have also had the pleasure of participating in a number of informal meetings on the fringes of the G20, with European leaders and several African leaders in the perspective of a major EU-African Union summit next year.

And finally, now, as we end this press briefing, a global summit on supply chain resilience is being convened by the US administration.

Well, I would also like to highlight, in these last words, I think, the important work of the Italian presidency. I am also honoured by Prime Minister Draghi and Prime Minister Trudeau to be able to participate in some official side events of the Summit programme, including one today with Prince Charles.

Finally, in conclusion, I believe that this G20 summit succeeds in sending a message of confidence to world public opinion about the commitment of the major economies to a recovery that must be strong, that must be sustainable, that must be fair, that must be inclusive, and our firm will to face the great global challenges of the present and the future.

I believe that Spain has participated actively in this summit, as well as in all the preparatory and ministerial meetings that have preceded it. So we make a frankly positive assessment of the outcome of this summit.

And before I make myself available to the media, Director, I would like to thank above all the Sherpas and all the people who are not well known, but who make it possible for us to reach the agreements that are also fundamental for creating a kind of acquis within the G20 of multilateral governance.

And with this, and with this thanks to the Sherpas, questions from the media.

Q. [Sandra Gallardo. Radio Nacional de España] Hello, good afternoon, president. Looking ahead to the Glasgow summit and the agreement reached at the G20, the question is whether he does not think it falls short, the ambiguity with which it refers to carbon neutrality around the middle of the century.

And if I may ask you a question on a national level, would you be willing to carry out the labour reform without the employers association? Thank you.

President. Well, thank you very much, Sandra. On the first question, I think it is important, it is indeed important, to take action.

President Draghi said so in the conclusions. It is of course relevant what statements we can make in the framework of the G20, but above all it is the actions we commit ourselves to that are relevant.

I think that setting 1.5 degrees is an important commitment, and the fact that we are proposing that before the end of 2021 we stop financing coal-fired power plants abroad is also an important step, it is a concrete step, it is a commitment that all countries have pledged to make. And in short, I also think it is important that at the Glasgow summit, at COP 26, we can finally set up a fund of 100 billion dollars to finance this ecological transition in countries that do not currently have these resources.

And I believe that today, after what we have been through with the pandemic, and after having had a meeting by videoconference last year and the impossibility of being able to meet again physically, I believe that from the point of view of the expectations of what we had thought the Italian Presidency could represent, they have been far exceeded in terms of commitments, ambition and above all in terms of the actions that we are going to have and that we will be able to measure whether they have come to fruition or rather, whether they have come to fruition or better said, to be realised. And in that sense I think we can be satisfied.

In relation to labour reform. Look, today, when I was at the G20, I was discussing this with some of my colleagues. We are talking about the fact that we have to achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions so that global warming does not exceed one and a half degrees.

You know that the two degrees is precisely what the scientific community is setting as a limit that we should not exceed if we do not want the consequences on change, climate change on the planet and the habitability of human beings on the planet, to be dramatic.

Therefore, what we are dealing with is a new production model. We have to transform our production model. Not only Spain's, but also that of the global economy as a whole.

Europe committed itself in July last year by approving these European funds. We are going to receive 140 billion euros over the next six years to be able to change the production model in our country. 140 billion euros, to which we want to leverage half a trillion, 500 billion euros of private investment. One for five. One euro of public investment, five euros of private investment.

Therefore, our task is a task of modernising our production model. And modernising our production model also means modernising our industrial relations model. The battle we have to win is the battle of the future. It is to have a 21st century industrial relations model. And this is what the Government of Spain is going to do.

In fact, if you notice, we have already been doing so during all the months we have been in office. The pioneering working from home law, which has also set an example in the International Labour Organization, is a confirmation that we are laying the foundations for a different model of labour relations because the whole process of digitalisation has been anticipated.

But the law on working from home, the law on the recognition of labour rights for workers who work on digital platforms, or the ERTEs as an alternative mechanism to the mere dismissal that we have seen in previous economic crises, are also the pillars of a new model of labour relations that we are building.

I therefore believe that it is no longer just an issue for the Government of Spain. I call on all social agents: trade unions and employers, to participate and play a leading role in this change of production model, and to help us modernise our labour relations model so that it is in line with the new economy to which we are called.

Q. Darío Menor. Mediaset correspondent in Rome. Good afternoon, president. I don't know if you could please give us some indication of the brief conversation you had yesterday with US President Joe Biden and whether there is a possibility of a bilateral meeting with him in the future. Thank you very much.

President. Well, thank you very much Dario. It was a brief and cordial meeting of two allies.

Spain is called upon to play a leading role in terms of infrastructure and to host an important summit in June next year, which is the NATO summit in Madrid, where, among other issues, NATO's new strategic concept for the next ten years will be defined, and therefore there are not many things that we have to discuss with such an important partner, such an important ally as the Biden administration.

But yesterday's meeting was merely a formality, a friendly, cordial encounter between two countries with an extraordinary relationship. Look, an extraordinary relationship, which I think we showed that collaboration when we had to deal with the refugee crisis in Afghanistan over the summer, or on more global issues where we are absolutely aligned, such as climate change. So, from the point of view of the political content, of the political substance, it was simply a cordial meeting and we will indeed be invited to future meetings to be able to work on the content in a much more precise manner. But no, that was not the case yesterday.

Q. [Carlos Cue. El País] If the president, taking advantage of what he has just said now, says that next year's summit if he expects a bilateral meeting with Biden, I don't know if it will be at the White House or somewhere else. The first bilateral meeting with Biden before the summit? If there is any work for that. I don't know, I understand that not yesterday, but if at some point progress is being made along these lines, and if in general you have seen in this G20 any change in axis policy, in international policy, precisely because of the change in the United States and the presence of Biden.

And on labour reform, I would like if we could talk about content. Yesterday Vice-President Calviño gave a series of issues to be discussed, but what is the president's position on these matters? Because there is already a document in the negotiation. There is a document led by the Ministry of Labour. Does the president agree with this document, with these points? Some content, above all. And in general, do you think that the coalition could break up over the issue of labour reform?

President. Well, I think that in relation to the first question about the change in the US administration, well, I think that even you can perceive it.

I think there is a clear, decisive commitment on the part of the Biden administration to return to multilateralism.

The fact that we are on the doorstep of COP 26 in Glasgow and to have a US administration that one of the first decisions it makes is to go back to the Paris agreements, it seems to me that clearly, it is like night and day.

And this has also been seen in the work of the Sherpas, where we used to find a stumbling block with the American administration, in everything related to climate change, today it is no longer there.

Therefore, from the point of view of both substance and form, there is a clear change that I believe I am not revealing anything to the media if I highlight it.

Regarding the bilateral meeting that President Biden and myself may have, it is not on the agenda. It is not on the agenda. In any case, I believe that the most important thing now for the Government of Spain in our transatlantic relationship is to hold the summit in June of next year, and also, logically, to celebrate the agreement reached by the President of the European Commission to lift some tariffs that were not doing the European economy any good, nor the transatlantic relationship between Europe and the United States.

On labour reform. Look, I insist, I believe that the battle we have to win is the battle of the future and Spain is called upon to modernise its production model. We have to change our production model. The pandemic has accelerated many of these changes. We have experienced them in our homes with digitalisation. We have also experienced this with working from home. We are also experiencing this in the area of ecological transition. And therefore, what we must do as a government is not only change our productive model, but also change and update and modernise our labour relations.

This is so and therefore the time is now. I know it is an ambitious goal, but this government has the ambition to move our country forwards and to face formidable challenges, such as reindustrialising our country, modernising our production model and updating our labour standards.

That will mean that some of the things that went wrong in 2012 will be rebuilt. But obviously what we must also do is to look ahead, because there is a new reality in the labour field that must also be responded to by the public authorities. And in this context, I believe that the fundamental thing will be to appeal to the country's responsibility to all social actors. The fact that we have the trade unions and employers in this dialogue, that we can reach an agreement with the employers in the trade unions, will also be fundamental in updating our labour relations model, and the Government of Spain will be involved in this.

Q. [Joan Solé, Cadena Ser, correspondent in Rome]. President, I would like to ask you whether there is any discomfort in the government because of all the scandals involving Enrique Arnaldo and what position your government will adopt in view of next Tuesday, when I believe all the candidates for the Constitutional Court will be presented. Thank you.

President. Thank you very much for your question. Look, it has been more than a thousand days, more than a thousand days with the blockade of the Partido Popular and therefore with the non-compliance in the renewal of the constitutional bodies. The Government of Spain and in this case the Socialist Parliamentary Group, I cannot speak for it because I am the president, but what we have tried, first and foremost, is to protect the agreement. Because what we need is to renew and reinforce the legitimacy of institutions that are fundamental to our country.

Of course, the Socialist Parliamentary Group and the Socialist Party is responsible for its candidates, not for the candidates of other political groupings. Others will have to answer that question.

From the point of view of the proposal that the party I represent has put on the table, I believe that it meets the scrupulous criteria of professionalism and excellence in the performance of its functions.

Q. [Bernabé Sánchez, Antena 3]. Yes. Good day. President, you talk about modernising labour relations, forgive me for insisting on labour reform, but I would like to know if all the actors agree on what modernising labour relations means. That is to say, if there is any contradiction between, for example, what has been agreed with Europe and the government agreement they have with Podemos, for example. Thank you.

President. Well, if one looks at the country-specific recommendations made by the European Commission in recent years, it has been highlighting, for example, precariousness and seasonality as one of the main Achilles' heels of our labour market. It has also been underlined that youth unemployment in our country is high in relative terms compared to other European economies.

Therefore, from the point of view of what the Government of Spain's proposal represents, I believe that it is in line with the recommendations made by the European Commission, not to this government, but to all governments before mine in their annual reports.

And I insist, I believe that the most important thing, what really interests the workers, those who are training today or who are unemployed and are waiting to find a job, is that the updating and modernisation of labour relations that the Government of Spain carries out should be, yes, it can be to the maximum, with the maximum consensus of the social partners and with the greatest possible dialogue.

Because I insist, the time is now. The time is now because it is when we are called upon to invest all these economic resources to modernise our productive model and therefore, we also have to align all public policies and especially the labour relations model to the challenge ahead of us.

Therefore, I repeat, the battle we have to win is the battle of the future. That is what we are called to do. I insist, this government is going to have to make very important reforms of our country. There are probably people who think that we are very ambitious, but the challenges ahead of us as a country are formidable, and this government and the attitude that I have always shown as president is not to look the other way, but to face problems head on and try to solve them. And that is what we are honestly called to do.

Thank you very much. I don't know if we will see each other at the Glasgow summit. Good return to Spain to those of you who see us and I imagine we'll see you there tomorrow. And thank you for your work.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Original speech in Spanish

Non official translation