Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES

The EU must live up to citizens’ expectations on the rollout of vaccines, prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders from the PES said this afternoon.

Progressives convened online to coordinate ahead of today’s European Council videoconference. On the agenda: Europe’s response to COVID-19, the Conference on the Future of Europe, the Porto Social Summit, and foreign policy.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The most immediate concern is to guarantee the quick, efficient and fair rollout of vaccines. This must be achieved. It is vital that citizens do not feel that the EU has let them down with slow vaccine delivery, or in other areas like disruptions to their supply chains and the circulation of other goods.

“Today, the European Council must focus on constructive action to successfully distribute the vaccine, strengthen unity and build resilience against this virus, in Europe and around the world.

“Valuable proposals on supply chains, European vaccine production, early warning systems and information sharing, and many more ideas are on the table. Now, we need a transparent, united and proactive effort to form a longer-term, and truly European, approach.

“One thing is certain. Success can only be delivered by embracing solidarity and the resilience that comes from strong public services and well-funded welfare states.”

The meeting reflected on the European approach so far – the unprecedented speed of vaccine development, common procurement to guarantee no second-class Europeans, and an ambitious European recovery package – but warned that these successes risk being undermined in the eyes of citizens.

Socialist and democrats are focused on ensuring the EU shows leadership on the vaccine rollout and beyond. This must include showing international solidarity and working to support access to vaccines for Africa and other European neighbours.

Prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders from the PES also exchanged on the Conference on the Future of Europe and again emphasised the need to ensure the event meets the needs and expectations of citizens. The meeting thanked the Portuguese presidency for its continuing efforts to reach an agreement on the Conference.

The meeting again expressed its support for the Porto Social Summit in May. It will be a valuable and timely opportunity to embed social rights into the recovery and Europe’s future. The prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders reiterated their determination to make the event a success and welcomed the continued stronger focus on social issues and sustainability at the EU-level, which is being driven by progressive Commissioners.

Discussing foreign policy, the prime ministers, European Commissioners and leaders welcomed the ongoing work of High Representative Josep Borrell on the Strategic Compass and reiterated the need for the EU to continue working for stability in neighbouring regions and around the world.

The meeting was attended by:

Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES
Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, European Commission
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
Conner Rousseau, Leader of sp.a Belgium
Norbert Walter-Borjans, Co-leader of SPD Germany
Lilianne Ploumen, Leader of PvdA Netherlands

Earlier this week, PES President Serge Stanishev wrote to the presidents of the Commission, Council, Parliament and Presidency of the Council of the EU to highlight a declaration adopted on Monday by ministers from Portugal, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta and Sweden. Read the letter and declaration on the PES website.

All 27 EU member states are represented by their progressive parties at the PES, which brings together 33 socialist, social democratic, labour and democratic parties as full members. Together with 12 associate parties and 12 observer parties from outside the EU, we fight for a better and more progressive Europe.