António Costa at PES Council: Europe must unite to face down populism

02/12/2017 - Portuguese prime minister and PES president Sergei Stanishev delivered closing speeches after two days of productive discussions in Lisbon.

Sergei Stanishev & António Costa

Speeches from Mr Costa and Mr Stanishev underlined the close relationship between PS Portugal and progressive parties from across Europe, and the determination of socialists and social democrats to deliver solidarity and social justice for the people of Europe.

More than 500 Council participants heard the speeches, which came at the end of two days of debate on subjects including the future of Europe, fighting populism, and enhancing European democracy through a transparent selection of the common candidate for the 2019 elections.

Both leaders outlined PES policies needed to secure a progressive Europe, echoing the voices of the many delegates from member parties who spoke during the two-day event.

PES president Sergei Stanishev said:

“The PS government here in Portugal is a beacon of progressive politics in a Europe which is increasingly dominated by conservative and nationalistic tendencies – and, more importantly, it is a very real demonstration of what can be achieved when progressive policies are put into action.

“The people of Portugal have put their trust in socialism, and, thanks to the hard work of António and his colleagues, their trust is being translated into very real improvements to people’s lives.”

In his speech, Mr Costa said:

“The way to respond to populism is to fight the fear it plays on. But you can only fight fear if you offer a plan to your citizens. That is what we have done in Portugal. And we are proud that we have turned the page on nationalism as a result.

“Sometimes we are too cautious about saying it: only a united Europe is able to deal with the challenges we face. In areas such as reducing inequality and improving the lives of citizens, Europe as a whole could learn from the successes we have had here in Portugal.”

The second day of the PES Council also included lively debates on promoting green growth and projecting progressive values around the world. Speakers included:

  • Christian Kern, chancellor of Austria
  • Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for regional policy
  • Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs
  • Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Labour UK
  • Elio Di Rupo, president of PS Belgium
  • John Crombez, leader of sp.a Belgium
  • Nils Ušakovs, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party "Saskaņa" (SDPS) and mayor of Riga

The day’s proceedings were introduced by Ana Catarina Mendes, deputy secretary general of PS Portugal, who co-hosted the event in Lisbon.

The Council also adopted three significant documents: