Speech by the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, to the media on his arrival at the European Council


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Brussels (Belgium)


Good morning.

How are you? I think we are starting a very important Council today because of the issues to be discussed, and I have the feeling that it is going to be quite long, so we are going to have to stay the whole day and a good part of the night, and hopefully we will be able to finish on Friday. If not, then maybe it will go on into the weekend, but I think the themes are worth this effort.

Well, I will begin by saying that this is the last Council of Spain's rotating presidency of the EU which, as you know, we began in July; and if we take stock, I believe that after the agreements, which we also learned about yesterday, we can say that it has been an outstanding presidency.

We have dealt with more than 40 dossiers that are politically very important for Europe, and also for the citizens of our country. And I would like to highlight the work of each and every one of the ministers of the Government of Spain in this presidency.

As you know, just yesterday we reached a very important agreement on the reform of the electricity market. Citizens in Spain have heard us talk a lot since the war started about the impact on energy prices and inflation, and about the need to reform the electricity market. Yesterday we reached an agreement to reform the electricity market, which will have three pillars that I would like to highlight.

The first is transparency. The second is price stability. And the third is a reduction in energy prices as a consequence of this new regulatory framework.

In short, I believe that this is extraordinary news for the economy of our homes, and also for the European economy, and particularly for industry, because companies will be able to compete abroad with much cheaper energy prices that are more in line with the commitment being made by the Government of Spain, and also the EU as a whole, to the ecological transition and to adapting to this great challenge represented by the climate emergency.

And this brings me to the second big piece of news we have had this week, which is precisely the COP 28 agreement, led by the Spanish presidency of the EU, in this case by the Third Vice-President for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, together with all the countries of the EU and the Commission, where the will of all countries to abandon fossil fuels has been expressed. And I believe that this is extraordinary news that is totally coherent with the reform of the electricity market we agreed yesterday and, without a doubt, with the promotion of renewable energies and the ecological transition we have been carrying out in Spain for the last five years.

We have some dossiers we want to complete before the end of this mandate until 31 December.

The first is the Pact on Migration and Asylum. We are very close to an agreement, and I believe we can reach one if the will of all countries is to come closer to such a consensus. I am hopeful. I believe we can achieve this before the end of the Spanish presidency, as well as the new economic governance agreement, what is colloquially known as the Stability and Growth Pact, where new fiscal rules are established for the member states, now that COVID-19 has been overcome and we have begun to see how the economic situation is being resolved, at least from the point of view of price containment, as we have also seen today in Spain.

Specifically, on the issues we are going to discuss here, you know that one of them is Ukraine. The message, at least from the Spanish presidency- and this is what we are going to defend within the Council- is to send a message of support, solidarity and commitment to Ukraine in its cause for freedom, for the defence of national sovereignty and its territorial integrity, and in this regard, to work to achieve this agreement, which will allow us to send the message that we are prepared to open negotiations for the accession of Ukraine, Moldova and also Bosnia-Herzegovina, at the time when they carry out the reforms to this process of enlargement of the EU.

This issue is also linked to the revision of the financial framework, where we are discussing the update, the revision of the EU budgets, to refer to it colloquially, with the €50 billion aid to Ukraine; secondly migration, and thirdly the interest payments on the debt we all agreed to take on with the NextGenerationEU funds. Well, I think we are also going to have a lot of debate over the next few hours. I hope that we can come to an agreement.

And last, on the Middle East, you know what the Government of Spain's position is. It is the one we are going to support and defend within the European Council and our will is to reach an agreement. I think it is important, after the vote in the United Nations General Assembly, where there is a large majority of European countries - I think I remember that there are around 17 - that have taken a position in favour of a humanitarian ceasefire, to put an end to the violence and bombings in Gaza and to make way for diplomatic channels and, consequently, to achieve this two-state solution. Well, I think that after this resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, Europe must speak, as I said yesterday in the European Parliament, clearly, strongly and forcefully and also in a unique way. And that is what the rotating Spanish presidency of the Council is going to try to do.

Bear in mind that we have a press conference tomorrow, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Q.- Are you going to meet with Puigdemont?

President - Well, if I look at my agenda, what I have is a meeting with the Aragonese president of the Government of Catalonia. I think it is on the 21st, linked with the visit we are going to make to the inauguration of the supercomputer in Barcelona.

Q.- [Inaudible]

President: Again I say it, I am telling you that I have... my agenda is public, it is absolutely transparent. What I have is a meeting with the President of the Government of Catalonia on 21 December.

What else?

Q.- [Inaudible] of the investiture, the motion of censure in Pamplona?

President: Look, these are curious events, because just yesterday the Socialist Party in Ceuta also offered to give more stable support to the Popular Party government in Ceuta, forming a government between the Popular Party and the Socialist Party, which the Popular Party has said no to. What I mean by this is that the daily reality of the citizens in different places varies and, considering this, the responsibility and the degree of responsibility the political formations have, in the case of the Socialist Party, has always been the same and that is to provide stability and, above all, to move the cities, the autonomous communities and, in this case, the Government of Spain forward.

What happened in Pamplona? In Pamplona what we have been suffering for the last five years is paralysis, a blockage, the non-approval of municipal budgets. And I believe that those who reproach this motion of censure should be made to see what is happening. Because if this motion of censure is taking place it is because of the inability, in this case of UPN, of the right wing in Navarre, to weave complicities, to build bridges with other political formations to move Pamplona forward.

What the Socialist Party of Navarre is doing, and it has my support, is to bring such an important City Council for the Autonomous Community of Navarre as Pamplona out of its paralysis.

Q.- [Inaudible]

President: No, it is a specific case, it is a very specific case of paralysis, a blockage and a lack of understanding due to a total lack of will, in this case, of the UPN mayoress. I insist that they need to look at it because the problem lies with UPN. The problem lies with this mayoress, and the responsibility of a governing party such as the Socialist Party, in this case the Socialist Party of Navarre, is to unblock the paralysis and move Pamplona forward.

Q.- [Inaudible]

President. - Look, I have always been respectful of the positions of judges, even when I have not had the same view on certain rulings. This government and I, in particular, have been absolutely respectful of judgements, statements and positions. You will not hear or have heard from me, or from any member of the Socialist Party, the things that were said, for example, by the Popular Party once the Gürtel judicial investigation became known, where the entire top leadership of the Popular Party came out in the headquarters of Genova saying that this was not an operation of the PP but an operation against the PP.

Therefore, I think it is important to remember this type of issue to know where we stand when we agree or disagree with court rulings. And in the case of the Government of Spain, and in my particular case, no one can say that I have questioned or criticised any of these rulings. I may not have shared them, but I have never publicly criticised them.

In any case, as a result of the questions I have been asked - and I will end here, because otherwise we will not have a press conference tomorrow - I do think it is important to remind you of the duty the head of the opposition also has.

The leader of the opposition has, once the elections are over and with four years of work ahead of him in this legislature, to work for the general interest. And I believe that the proposal for a meeting I have put to the leader of the opposition, and also the three agreements that I have put to the leader of the opposition- one, to reform article 49 of the Constitution; two, to have a new system of regional financing; and three, to renew the General Council of the Judiciary- is something that is worth working on, that we should create this Working Commission for.

I have already put on the table the three people who are going to make up this working committee on behalf of the Socialist Party: Patxi López, as spokesperson of the Socialist Parliamentary Group; María Jesús Montero, as deputy secretary general of the Socialist Party; and Félix Bolaños, as a member of the Federal Executive Committee.

And now I expect Mr Feijóo to set a date.

I understand that we all have complicated agendas, especially between now and the end of the year, but I believe that there are no reasons, no arguments for the Popular Party not to sit around the table and unblock issues that are affecting the day-to-day lives of citizens, such as regional funding and the PP's flagrant failure to renew the General Council of the Judiciary.

I will leave you now, I have to start the Council.

Good morning.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Original speech in Spanish

Non official translation