The President of the Government of Spain takes part in the European Council meeting

Pedro Sánchez: "Tomorrow we take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU with appreciation and ambition to tackle global challenges"

President's News - 2023.6.30

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Brussels (Belgium)

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has taken part in the European Council of 29 and 30 June, which began on Thursday with a lunch between the leaders and the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. Matters of great importance for the Member States were discussed at the council, such as the situation in Ukraine, competitiveness, the debate on migration and matters associated with the EU's external relations. Pedro Sánchez also expressed his appreciation for the work carried out during the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU, and reiterated the ambition and humbleness with which Spain will take on the challenge of the rotating presidency as of tomorrow.

On Ukraine, European leaders once again reaffirmed blanket support for the Ukrainian people, and emphasised that protecting the unity of the 27 remains paramount in continuing to confront Putin's unjustified aggression. Following the adoption of the eleventh package of sanctions against Russia, the council delved deeper into the future reconstruction of Ukraine. "Russia must take responsibility for all the damage and destruction it has caused," said Pedro Sánchez, highlighting that the best way to use frozen Russian assets for reconstruction in Ukraine was discussed at the council. "We believe that a formula of this kind must be fully respectful of international and EU law, and coordinated with other international partners".

President Sánchez underlined the issue of food security, recalling that Spain has always expressed its concern in this regard. "We call on Russia to respect the agreed terms of the Black Sea Grain Initiative," he said. This initiative has allowed more than 30 million tonnes of grain and foodstuffs to leave Ukraine in a period just short of a year.

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the working session of the first day of the European Council | Pool Moncloa/Pool UE

The 27 reiterated both their support for Zelenski's Formula for Peace and their commitment to seek the widest possible international support for a future Peace Summit. "The war in Ukraine will be one of the main priorities of our presidency, with the focus on guaranteeing unity among all the Member States," the President assured, recalling that this is the reason why the Spanish presidency will begin its work this Saturday with a trip to Kyiv.

On economic matters, President Sánchez highlighted the strength and dynamism of the Spanish economy. Spain is the first country in the EU to reduce inflation to below 2%. He also stressed that this council had been very useful for taking stock of progress on competitiveness. European leaders placed special emphasis on the internal market and the initiatives currently under way, such as the regulation of critical raw materials and zero-emissions industry, and the proposed regulation on Artificial Intelligence, dossiers to which the Spanish Presidency intends to pay special attention during this six-month period.

The EU-27 also addressed the debate on the economic security of the EU, following the strategy published by the European Commission on the 20th of the month. In this regard, they underlined the importance of securing essential supply chains and reducing the risks of over-dependence on third countries. The commission also presented its €100 billion proposal for the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework, which responds to financing needs in areas such as reconstruction in Ukraine, migration and the cost of debt of the NextGenerationEU Funds. "This revision will have to be negotiated during these months, during the Spanish Presidency of the Council," said President Sánchez, assuring that Spain will give it the highest priority to find a balanced agreement.

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, upon his arrival at the working session of the first day of the European Council | Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

On migration, European leaders addressed both the internal and external dimensions of this sensitive issue. "This is an area in which Spain can offer its successful experience based on cooperation with the countries of origin and transit," explained the president. To this effect, he said that Spain welcomed the commission's recent initiatives to develop a strategic and global partnership with North African countries, such as Tunisia. Furthermore, Pedro Sánchez welcomed the progress made during the Swedish Presidency with regard to the Pact on Migration and Asylum, and expressed his commitment to the search for a general agreement on this issue during the six-month term.

At this European Council, the 27 also addressed the issue of Security and Defence, and took stock of the implementation of the Strategic Compass agreed last year. On foreign affairs, the leaders held a strategic discussion on China, a crucial actor in the international order with whom it is necessary to interact.

Last, they discussed the preparation of the next EU-CELAC Summit, which after 8 years will be held in Brussels on 17 and 18 July. "We cannot miss this opportunity to launch a genuine strategic partnership in its many dimensions," explained President Sánchez, recalling that today Latin America is the richest and most prosperous region among the emerging economies. In this context, the 27 agreed on the need to make a qualitative leap in this relationship, to implement a powerful investment agenda with the region and to continue promoting progress in trade agreements with it.

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