Progressive PMs will strengthen social agenda and EMU, praise PESCO


December 2017 precouncil

Genuine social and economic progress are finally within our grasp if Europe’s leaders are willing to give them the emphasis they deserve. This was the view of Party of European Socialists prime ministers at their coordination meeting ahead of the European Council today.

Today's European Council meeting is the first since all 28 EU countries jointly proclaimed the European pillar of social rights in Gothenburg in November -- a historic step forward under the leadership of Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven, which was warmly welcomed by the assembled leaders today.

PES president Sergei Stanishev, chairing the meeting, said:

"After many months of pressure from our political family, we have finally achieved universal agreement on the need to put social issues on the agenda. Now, socialists and democrats expect Europe’s leaders to commit to concrete action and put the social pillar into practice. As a first priority, we need action on decent wages for all, investment in lifelong education and to close the gender pay gap.

"The same moral applies to eurozone reform, where the European Commission’s new proposals contain many welcome elements for which we have campaigned. It falls to us to keep up the pressure, so that promises are converted into action, and to go even further in areas such as democratic accountability, upward convergence and a specific eurozone budget."

Leaders especially welcomed the appointment of Mário Centeno as president of the eurogroup.

On defence, the prime ministers jointly praised the work of Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign & Security Policy and a member of the socialist family, in developing permanent structured cooperation in the area of European defence – a clear example of European solidarity, with countries voluntarily accepting both the responsibilities and the benefits of defence cooperation.

The topic of migration was also on the agenda. Prime ministers reiterated their solidarity with EU countries such as Italy and Greece which find themselves the first port of call for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, as well as expressing their support for solidarity in addressing the issue.

Mr Stanishev said:

"We utterly reject Donald Tusk’s proposal to annul the responsibility-sharing agreement for managing migration flows. The reason the current system has not yet succeeded in addressing the problem is that it has not been fully and effectively implemented.

"Migration is a Europe-wide challenge, and as such it needs a coordinated Europe-wide solution, with solidarity and humanitarian values at its core. It would spell disaster if Europe were to retreat into numerous uncoordinated and conflicting national approaches."

It is also the first meeting of PES prime ministers since the PES Council in Lisbon. Prime ministers endorsed the strong declarations adopted in Lisbon on the future of Europe and on the common candidate for the 2019 European elections.