PES prime ministers welcome enhanced coordination on COVID-19 to reopen Europe

PES prime ministers welcome enhanced coordination on COVID-19 to reopen Europe

Participants at the Party of European Socialists’ (PES) European Council Preparation Meeting in Brussels welcomed the agreement reached on the EU digital Covid Certificate and called for it to be rapidly implemented.

The meeting also exchanged on the situation in Belarus and strongly condemned the hijacking of a civilian aircraft by Belarusian authorities, calling for a strong reaction from the European Union.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The agreement on the EU digital Covid Certificate is very good news. Now it needs to be implemented quickly. Thanks to the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU and S&D MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, the Covid Certificate is a solid foundation. Socialists want to see the safe reopening of societies and a real recovery from this crisis, rooted in the Social Pillar and the Green Deal. We must work to make sure that a fairer and more sustainable EU emerges.

“The fastest and safest route out of the pandemic has always been effective coordination and cooperation between Member States. One country will not be safe until we all are. The EU must concentrate now on further enhancing cooperation so we can accelerate vaccination rollout and support international partners in their fight against the virus. This is the only way forward to quickly restore free movement.”

Prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders also discussed the diversion and forced landing yesterday of a European civilian aeroplane by Belarusian authorities. The meeting condemned this dangerous and completely unacceptable act by the Lukashenko regime and called for the immediate release of opposition figure Raman Pratasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, who were detained at Minsk airport following the rerouting of the aircraft.

The meeting also welcomed recent progress on climate change, and particularly the adoption of the EU Climate Law. Thanks to European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, the EU is moving towards a climate-neutral future through the implementation of the European Green Deal objectives.

Prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders reflected on the Porto Summit, commending the initiative and hard work undertaken by Prime Minister Antonio Costa and the Portuguese government. The meeting agreed that the Porto Summit, building on the work of European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, showed that the EU can exit the coronavirus crisis in a way that leads to a fairer Europe, where no one is left behind in the green and digital transitions.

The meeting welcomed the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement ratified by the EU last month, but stressed that this represents only the beginning of the new chapter of relations with the UK. The agreement must be fully implemented in good faith, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the UK government must not create a hostile environment for EU citizens living in, or travelling to, the UK. The PES adds its voices to concerns over recent reports that EU citizens are being detained for several days when travelling to the UK.

Discussing Russia, Prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders expressed regret at the continued deterioration of EU-Russia relations. Prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders condemned the Kremlin’s aggression towards Ukraine and other neighbouring countries, the disinformation campaigns and interference targeting the EU and its Member States, and the continued repression of opposition and civil society within Russia, notably opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The meeting expressed solidarity with European Parliament President David Sassoli and other EU officials who were unjustly sanctioned by the Russian Government last month. The EU must stand together, united behind common values, in the face of Russian hostility and transgressions, and where possible encourage Russia to pursue constructive relations in areas of common interest with the EU.

Prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders welcomed Partito Democratico leader Enrico Letta to the PES European Council Preparation Meeting for the first time in person. The meeting welcomed his initiative to introduce an inheritance tax system for the wealthiest in Italy, which will raise resources to financially assist 18-year-old Italians.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists
  • Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark
  • Robert Abela, Prime Minister of Malta
  • António Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal
  • Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain
  • Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal
  • 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
  • David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament
  • Iratxe Garcia Perez, President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • Paul Magnette, Leader of PS Belgium
  • Enrico Letta, Leader of Democratic Party Italy
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General of the Party of European Socialists
  • Giacomo Filibeck, Deputy Secretary General of the Party of European Socialists