Guaranteeing social rights, fighting persistent gender inequality, and strengthening the EU’s economic and fiscal unity were the core messages of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez while he addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg on January 16.
The Spanish prime minister’s call for an even closer EU may, however, fall short of being heard by the next European Parliament, which is expected to be dominated by many Eurosceptic parties.
Sanchez, who represents the Spanish Socialist Workers Party – one of Europe’s most hardline leftist political parties, put social security and labour rights at the forefront of his speech.
He also suggested introducing common unemployed insurance to guarantee a basic income for Europeans who have been left without jobs.
“We need to build a Europe of rights that will protect the most vulnerable, a true social Europe. We have to promote European unemployment insurance, a real backstop for people, which we can use to make a capable reality of concepts of European solidarity and unity,” Sanchez said.
Though the protection of the most vulnerable segments of people in the EU is at the centre of the rhetoric that is espoused by many of the populist parties across the EU – including Italy, Hungary and Greece – all of whom may agree with the Sanchez’s suggestion, but the latest appeals to the EU bubble can won’t stir up enthusiasm in countries where Euroscepticism and Brussels fatigue are at their highest. Nevertheless, according to Sanchez, the EU has no choice but to move ahead with the strengthening of its common defence and security capabilities if it wants to play a meaningful role on the global stage.
The next elections to the European Parliament will be held on May 23-26. Last year, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani cautioned that he expects Eurosceptics to win a majority of seats in the next European elections.