Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez (on the right) speaking at a press conference marking the start his country's EU Presidency. President of the European Council Charles Michel is on the left., Source: Eu2023es

With looming elections, Spain takes helm of EU Presidency

With looming elections, Spain takes helm of EU Presidency

Check out the priorities that the country’s government has set for the next six months with regard to the European agenda

As of this past weekend, Spain is heading the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months. This is the fifth time that the Iberian country is at the helm of setting the EU agenda and the government has prepared a calendar chockful of events – apparently some 350 of them.

But there’s also unease and uncertainty in the air among EU leaders regarding the fact that later this month, Spain is heading into parliamentary elections. These are scheduled for 23 July, ahead of the initial timetable, and there’s a distinct possibility that they may result in a change of government.

This also means that for the next three weeks, the national government of Pedro Sanchez will be more preoccupied with campaigning and trying to retain its electoral strength where possible after suffering defeat in many major cities in last month’s local elections.

Nevertheless, rules and commitments to the EU membership are respected and the government has defined

Four priorities to work on

in the next six months, regardless of who’s in charge. These priorities are reindustrializing the EU, advancing the green transition, promoting social and economic justice and strengthening European unity. Let’s look at them in more detail.

To achieve reindustrialisation, the Spanish Presidency will work on two fronts. On the one hand, it will promote those dossiers which foster the development of strategic industries and technologies in Europe, the expansion and diversification of its trade relations, and the strengthening of its supply chains, giving special attention to Latin America and the EU-CELAC Summit.

On the other hand, it will propose a forward-looking, comprehensive strategy to ensure the economic security and global leadership of the EU by 2030, providing continuity and depth to the work of the European institutions and the roadmap agreed in Versailles by the 27 Member States.

In the field of sustainable transition, the national authorities seek to promote a reform of the electricity market aimed at accelerating the deployment of renewable energies, the reduction of electricity prices, and the improvement of the system’s stability.

They will also try to accelerate the legislative files related to Fit for 55, such as the Gas and Hydrogen package, and the energy efficiency regulations. Furthermore, we will promote measures for the reduction of waste and microplastics, the design of sustainable products and the generation of green fuels. 

Speaking of economic and social justice, the Pedro Sanchez government has proposed to advocate for the imposition of common and minimum corporate taxation standards. Apparently, tax evasion by large corporations costs the bloc 1.5 GDP points yearly.

Spain will also push for the extension of workers' rights in several areas and for vulnerable groups such as children, women suffering from violence, and people with disabilities.

Strengthening European unity is an underlying policy objective that should be a priority for any country holding the rotational presidency. The Spanish government has stated that it will advocate for a greater deepening of the internal market, the completion of the banking union and the capital markets union, the consolidation and improvement of common instruments such as the NextGenerationEU funds, more efficient and coordinated management of migration and asylum processes, and coordinated support for Ukraine and other neighbouring states. 

From 1 January 2024, Belgium will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.



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