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State of the Union debate at the European Parliament

Albares is committed to a more united, stronger, more social, more sustainable EU that is closer to its citizens

• The Minister explained the priorities of the Spanish Presidency to MEPs in Strasbourg in his reply to the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen

• As stated by Albares - "The Spanish Presidency wants to embody European values for the benefit of our citizens"

September 15, 2023

The acting  Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, took advantage of his speech during the European Union state debate at the European Parliament Plenary Session being held today in Strasbourg to call for a more united, stronger, more social, more sustainable EU that is closer to its citizens.

Minister Albares stressed the "firm conviction" of the Spanish Presidency that "the future and the well-being of all Europeans" depend on these requirements, to which Spain is "totally committed". "We want to continue making the European Union a project for the future in which we all fit, and in which all Europeans can recognise themselves. The Spanish Presidency wants to embody European values for the benefit of our citizens," he said.

In his response to the speech given by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Minister detailed before the MEPs the priorities of Spain's six-month term in the European Presidency, which he focused on reindustrialisation and open strategic autonomy; green transition and environmental adaptation; greater social and economic justice; and the reinforcement of European unity.

Albares referred to the Russian aggression against Ukraine as "highlighting the value of European unity" and then recalled that, on the first day of the Spanish Presidency, the Spanish President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, conveyed a clear message at the Ukrainian Parliament in Kyiv: we are and will be with the Ukrainian people for as long as it takes. In this regard, he also pointed out that a few weeks ago, in Toledo, "we together reinforced our commitment to help and support peace in Ukraine" during the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers.

Commitment to equality

The Minister for Foreign Affairs said before the European Parliament that "as could not be otherwise, the Council Presidency will promote and support the efforts of the Commission and the Parliament in order to achieve a more inclusive Union". The Minister further added - "we will make progress on social rights, as well as on the adoption of measures in favour of equal treatment between people and their inclusion, with special attention to gender equality, the fight to combat violence against women, and children and disability issues. To this effect, we welcome the proposal for the Disability Card Directive, as presented by the Commission on 5 September", explained the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Albares also referred to the "decisive moment" marked by the European calendar. The Spanish Presidency is the last full Presidency before the European elections and the next European legislative cycle, so "we must negotiate a large number of key dossiers from a European integration standpoint, and which represent major advances in the social, environmental and economic fields, which have a positive impact on the welfare of our fellow citizens", he admitted.

In this regard, he called for "relations between the institutions to continue to be as fluid as possible" and, to this end, he informed the European Parliament that the Spanish Presidency "has begun with the utmost determination, demonstrating the strong pro-Europe vocation that drives the Spanish Government".

He told MEPs that, in the first month of the Presidency alone, 25 trialogues (meetings between the Commission, Council and European Parliament) had already taken place, "and the pace will pick up in the coming months," he added, after pledging to President von der Leyen "to count on the full dedication of this Presidency to ambitiously move the European project forward".

Access the full intervention here

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