EU Social Summit and Informal Meeting of EU leaders hosted by the Portuguese Presidency

Spain promotes an ambitious social agenda at the Porto Summit

President's News - 2021.5.7

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Porto (Portugal)

The Summit, which is designed to take forward discussions on the Union's social dimension, includes a High Level Conference, with the participation of European leaders, trade unions, organisations and civil society, and an informal European Council, which will conclude on Saturday with the adoption of a Declaration on European social policy.

President Sánchez is attending this summit with the intention of strengthening the presence of the social agenda in current and future debates on the economic recovery of our countries, so that it is fair and leaves no one behind, especially the most vulnerable people and those hardest hit by this crisis. Spain has contributed to the debate by circulating a non-paper to its partners on a "Renewed and ambitious European social agenda", with which it presents a detailed roadmap to advance the social dimension in the EU, with specific proposals such as a new SURE (European unemployment insurance) instrument, the strengthening of the youth guarantee, the promotion of legislative proposals on equal wages or minimum income, or the achievement of a European Health Union. In the same vein, Spain jointly presented a paper with Belgium with whom our country shares a vision of fair and inclusive growth.

In the employment panel of the High Level Conference this afternoon, Sánchez called for the promotion of quality employment and "decent work", and pointed to the "unique opportunity" represented by the NextGenerationEU recovery plan to achieve a dynamic, resilient and inclusive labour market in Europe. In this regard, he explained, "we are seeing sectors that are winners from digital transformation, which are driving out workforces while they are earning six-figure salaries and increasing their profits and bonuses. I don't think this is acceptable and I think that we need to give a strong response from the political dimension". Sánchez also stressed the importance of social dialogue in reaching agreements on any changes to labour legislation, recalling those reached with the social partners during the pandemic.

The Spanish proposal: Vaccines for all

Following the High Level Conference, the president will participate this evening in a working dinner convened by the President of the Council, Charles Michel, where leaders will discuss the fight against the pandemic and other issues. This will be the stage on which President Sánchez will present Spain's proposal to guarantee access to vaccines for everyone. The Biden administration openly raised the issue of a temporary exemption from the WTO TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement for patents linked to COVID-19 vaccines. However, although this announcement paves way, the Spanish government considers that the exemption alone is not enough to guarantee developing countries' access to vaccines. Spain therefore proposes a strengthening of the transfer of knowledge and technology, increasing the global production of vaccines and accelerating their distribution around the world.

As part of Spain's commitment to ensuring that vaccines reach everyone, President Sánchez, together with the prime ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and the French president, has sent a letter to the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, calling for the approval of a vaccine sharing mechanism and a commitment from all Member States. In the words of the president, "there is no point in achieving our vaccination targets if the rest of the world lags behind. The current example of India clearly shows the risks of COVID that is out of control".

Tomorrow, 8 May, European leaders will hold a videoconference meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss this issue, among others.

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