Friday, July 1

Sánchez sticks to Scholz so as not to lose weight in the EU in the face of the nuclear debate and that of fiscal rules




The arrival of Olaf Scholz to the German Chancellery is going to be a very important key to the plans of Pedro Sanchez in the second part of the mandate. Expectations at La Moncloa are very high. Both maintain a relationship “of friendship” and “know each other phenomenally”, they state in the Presidency of the Government. For weeks now, there has been talk of the possibility of a meeting between the two very soon. Scholz has already visited Paris, Rome, Brussels and Warsaw.

Spain assumes that these capitals have preference from the German point of view. But he has the ambition that in the new relationship scheme Sánchez has a preferred place in the dialogue with Scholz, because in the Government they defend that they are “the two great social democratic leaders” of the continent.

The two have essentially forged their relationship in the meetings of the European Socialist Party prior to the European Councils. The two have already agreed after Scholz’s victory in a forum organized by the Italian Democratic Party in Rome.

The great issues of the future have to do with strategic autonomy, where the France of Emmanuel Macron pushes strongly on Defense. European socialists believe, however, that “the debate is not yet very mature.” At this point, the position of Spain, which is not directly opposed to what France is proposing, has many points in common with the position of Germany, which marks more distances and which always insists on emphasizing that no future plan in this regard can transfer the idea that the security, stability and prosperity of Europe can be guaranteed without NATO and the United States.

The Socialists value in opposition to this question of a military nature that with Scholz “the accent is going to be put more in the environmental policies”. Here was the great milestone of this week: the Brussels proposal for the classification of green energies that serve as a guide for investments in energy and whose draft includes nuclear energy and natural gas as green energies.

Already in July Germany, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain issued a joint letter to the European Commission requesting shut out nuclear power of the aid and the lower taxes that the renewables will have. The positions have been reproduced this week. Although in Spain they extend their rejection of natural gas. Here, Germany is not so clear. Because natural gas, like nuclear gas for France, is key to its energy mix. Here, the presence of the Greens in the Scholz coalition consolidates the position on nuclear, but there are doubts that the rejection of natural gas can be extended.

In the Government they try to work the idea that the proposal of the European Commission is not definitive. In the Executive they point out that the movement of the European Union has a lot to do with a message that has been sent to Russia to show that there is not so much energy dependence.

A gap before Paris and Rome

But the big short-term issue is going to be the debate on whether the fiscal rules of the EU, currently suspended due to the economic response to the pandemic. A “very aligned” position of Paris and Rome is expected there, which has already crystallized in a joint document. In Moncloa they also point out that in this debate, President Sánchez will want to establish a position and that Scholz is expected to take a position that does not adhere to the traditional German postulates, despite the fact that his coalition and the head of the Ministry of Finance include the liberals. The latter is recognized as an alteration with respect to what could be expected from a social democratic government. But it tries to value that, already in Merkel’s last stage, Scholz “was one of those who pushed the most for the mutualisation of debt in the Covid response funds,” they recall in the Government.

The Stability Pact that has governed the economic soul of Europe until the coronavirus crisis stipulates as its two main guiding principles a annual deficit of 3% of GDP and that the State debt must be below 60%. These are rules that do not fit with the state of the public accounts of the Member States after the response to the pandemic. Spain is following a line very similar to what Paris and Rome may propose in some parts of their proposal: “In the same way that these regulations did not restrict our response to the pandemic, now they should not prevent us from making all the necessary investments”, they have stressed in a joint document Macron and Draghi. Although both are also committed to “curbing recurring public spending through sensible structural reforms,” ​​while allowing “more room for maneuver and being able to make the key expenditures necessary for our future and our sovereignty.”

But above all what the Spanish Government wants is that in 2023 these rules that are now suspended will not be applied again because they have been reformed. And for that objective to prosper, it is essential that the reform can crystallize. And that is where Moncloa understands that it is important to address the issue together with Germany so that the reform has more prospects of prospering, state government sources. In addition, the same relationship with Macron is not observed as at the beginning of his mandate. And of course the level of complicity that Pedro Sánchez had with Giuseppe Conte has never been reached with Draghi, once he managed to get rid of Matteo Salvini and governed with the support of the Democratic Party.

More or less influence?

When Pedro Sánchez arrived in La Moncloa, he did so automatically as the main Social Democratic leader of a political family that was still navigating its worst moments. In the summer of 2019, he was the main negotiator for the Social Democrats in the process of appointing new senior positions in the Community institutions. There was the famous snapshot of Sánchez negotiating with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. Although it was not a negotiation that ended well for the president. Since his main claim was to place Frans Timmermans as president of the European Commission.

Now Scholz automatically occupies that condition of social democratic leader to the detriment of Sánchez. But in the Government and in the PSOE they do not see anything negative in this, although it does force Sánchez to reorder his alliance policy. From the socialist party in Brussels they believe that above all what Scholz supposes “is a guarantee on the economic agenda” and that with his arrival in office the economic line that prevails in the European Union in response to the pandemic is “consolidated”: «Our agenda is the one that is being promoted. There is a feeling of stronger strength in the EU. The discourse of the crisis of social democracy no longer exists. They gave us for dead and that has already been cleared up. That as a political family gives a lot of muscle “, they celebrate from Brussels.

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