Urging Europe to change course… That is how the Party of European Socialists, PES, has launched its campaign for this June’s European elections. The candidates from 20 EU countries met in the southern French city of Toulouse on Friday. They demanded urgent action to fight the recession and mass unemployment.
This included calling for a “new, strong recovery plan for Europe, with coordinated investments in jobs and green growth”, and new regulation and supervision of the financial markets. Spanish Socialist Juan Fernando López Aguilar set a caring tone: “I’m happy to be a part of this socialist family… of this common strategy, of an economic revival strategy in common, for jobs, and above all engaged with the most vulnerable members of society… a society which is unequal and unfair at the global level.” No candidate of the pan-European party was named as a possible successor for the post of European Commission president, with Britain, Spain and Portugal backing the free-market-oriented Jose Manuel Barroso for a second appointment. Greek Socialist George Papandreou said ‘first things first’: “These demands will have to do with a social Europe, a Europe of solidarity, a Europe of growth and green growth, a Europe of education and talent, a Europe of peace. So we are saying, we put our programme first, we put our citizens first, and we will then see who we will vote for.” The PES declaration said: “We demand that member states respect and agree on ensuring the newly-elected parliament plays its full democratic role in consultations on the new leadership of the commission.”