Socialist Leaders support Pittella for Parliament President, push for more social Europe

15/12/2016

PES EU Council preparation meeting, 15 December 2016

Prime ministers and party leaders from socialist parties around Europe met this morning in Brussels to discuss the future of social Europe, Turkey, and the presidency of the European Parliament.

Leaders agreed that the employment and social proposals on the agenda of the European Council are insufficient, and risk severely limiting future growth and employment.

Summing up the discussion, PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

We all know the background to this. More than 20 million Europeans are unemployed, and one in four are at risk of poverty and social exclusion.

“Socialists will not stand idly by while the right’s obsession with austerity and cuts endangers the future of Europe’s citizens. Only sustained investment can provide good quality jobs and return Europe to strong, sustainable growth.

“We agreed today that we are ready to fight in our own countries, in the European Parliament and at the European Council – starting later today – for the social investment that our citizens need.” 

Gianni Pittella, leader of the Socialist & Democrats group of MEPs, was acclaimed by leaders as the PES candidate for president of the European Parliament. 

Leaders agreed that Pittella’s presidency would be a cornerstone for the PES social agenda in the EU institutions.

Mr Schulz, who recently announced that he was standing down as EP president, said in his speech to the leaders:

This is not a farewell speech. I remain active in politics and as a member of our socialist family, and I will continue to fight for our values from Germany.

The meeting was the first such gathering for new Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Introducing Mr Gentiloni, Mr Stanishev said:

We’re very happy to welcome Paolo Gentiloni, the prime minister of the new Italian government led by Partido Democratico. We are looking forward to working with our Italian colleagues on our progressive agenda in the context of the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

PES is preparing a series of high-level meetings in 2017 in Italy, Malta and Sweden to finalise its strategy in returning Europe to sustainable growth and social equality.

Leaders also confirmed their strong support for the People’s Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi) in Turkey, an associate member of the Party of European Socialists, whose leader Selahattin Demirtaş and many of its MPs have been subject to arbitrary arrest and detention in recent months.

The PES meeting took place in advance of the full European Council later today. In attendance were:

  • Sergei Stanishev, PES president
  • Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal
  • Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden
  • Christian Kern, Chancellor of Austria
  • Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta
  • Alexis Tsipras (observer), Prime Minister of Greece
  • Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg
  • Harlem Desir, Secretary of State for European Affairs, France
  • Bert Koenders, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
  • Fofi Gennimata, President of PASOK, Greece
  • Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
  • Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign & Security Policy
  • Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of European Commission
  • Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner
  • Gianni Pittella, leader of the S&D Group, European Parliament