Spanish PM to delay EU presidency speech due to snap election
The Spanish government has officially requested to postpone the presentation of its upcoming EU presidency priorities in the European Parliament’s plenary chamber until September.
The presentation and a debate with MEPs over the programme of the council’s rotating presidency were initially scheduled to take place on 13 July in Strasbourg — a few days before the Spanish national elections.
But on Friday (2 June), Madrid said that it had informed the communication department of the European Parliament about this decision.
I did so last Tuesday, a few hours after Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez called for snap elections on 23 July.
The national elections in Spain will take place just three weeks after the country assumes the six-month rotating EU presidency.
But it is not the first time national elections take place in the context of an EU chairmanship — it also happened during the French EU presidency last year.
Earlier this week, the European People’s Party (EPP) leader, Manfred Weber, also called on the president of the EU parliament Roberta Metsola to postpone the inaugural dialogue with MEPs over the Spanish presidency’s programme in a bid to avoid a debate in the middle of an electoral campaign.
In a letter dated 1 June and seen by EUobsever, Weber asked to postpone the Spanish presidency debate in the plenary to September "to allow the freshly elected prime minister to present the priorities of the council outside the domestic political battles".
"I trust this slight adjustment to our institutional calendar will reinforce the legitimacy of the process," Weber wrote, arguing that the launch speech of the council presidency is "a crucial institutional moment in terms of accountability"
After the defeat of his Socialist party in local elections, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has surprised everyone by moving elections forward.
The centre-right party PP would win the next general elections, with an advantage of about 40 seats over the Sanchez socialist party PSOE, according to recent polls.
Every time a country assumes the EU council’s presidency, the debate in plenary takes place in the first month of the new presidency.
Spain will hold the EU council presidency until 31 December, which then will be followed by Belgium.