EU must stick to its values in the face of internal and international challenges

01/10/2020 - Recovery, Eastern Mediterranean and Belarus discussed by socialist and democratic family

PES European Council preparation meeting

PES President Sergei Stanishev greets Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, at the PES European Council preparation meeting in Brussels

The EU must stand up when its values and Member States are challenged, socialist and democratic prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders said today as they met to coordinate ahead of the Special European Council.

On the agenda: the recovery, the Rule of Law, relations with Turkey, Belarus and other items on the European Council agenda.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Challenges in two areas face the European Council today: internal and geopolitical. Europe deserves a strong response to both. And this can only come from a defence of our values.

“The internal market faces some very difficult times. Socialists and democrats want action to preserve and strengthen it, particularly as an instrument to implement the Social Pillar, Green Deal, and the wider progressive agenda. The recovery plan and MFF will be central here, but we must not give in to the likes of Viktor Orban and others who are trying to blackmail Europe into watering down the Rule of Law. Abandoning European values will never be the solution to a European challenge. We must uphold EU values as the basis of a fair and sustainable recovery.

“The recovery must seize the opportunities of the digital transition to push innovation and create jobs. But it must do so based on strengthened privacy and workers’ rights, and fair taxation of tech firms.”

PES European Council preparation meeting

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela and European Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni greet each other at the PES European Council preparation meeting

The meeting once again called for the swift implementation of the recovery plan and MFF so Europe can move forward with key progressive policies: the Social Pillar, the Green Deal, an anti-poverty strategy, the Youth Guarantee, the Child Guarantee and more.

The PES family also urged Europe to stand as one in the face of international challenges. The prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders expressed solidary with Greece and Cyprus.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The PES has kept a close eye on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. We have discussed this on several occasions and have previously warned about Turkey. Socialist and democrats stand in solidarity with Greece and Cyprus. Dialogue is the way to move forward now. We have seen some positive moves in this direction recently but talks only stand a chance if all illegal activity is halted. Europe must stand as one on international challenges.”

The last PES European Council meeting in July expressed strong concerns about Turkey, reiterating that international law must be respected.

The meeting also discussed the situation in Belarus and the escalating Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

On Belarus, PES prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders condemned the ongoing actions of the illegitimate Lukashenko regime and expressed solidarity with the peaceful democratic protesters. Socialists and democrats back tough sanctions on the regime.

The meeting also expressed strong concerns about the fighting that has erupted along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone, and backed EU calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a move to de-escalation and dialogue.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES

  • Robert Abela, Prime Minister of Malta 
  • Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain
  • Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal

  • Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission
  • Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for Economy

  • Iratxe Garcia Perez, President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament

  • Norbert Walter-Borjans, Co-leader of SPD Germany

  • Giacomo Filibeck, Deputy Secretary General of the PES

Footage from the meeting is available to view and download from Europe by Satellite. Photographs are available on the PES Flickr page.