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Pedro Sánchez postpones key speech at the European Parliament due to snap election

Spain is scheduled to take over the rotating presidency of the EU Council on 1 July.
Spain is scheduled to take over the rotating presidency of the EU Council on 1 July. Copyright European Union, 2023.
Copyright European Union, 2023.
By Jorge Liboreiro
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The Spanish PM's speech was initially scheduled to take place on 13 July and will now be moved to September.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has chosen to postpone a high-profile speech before the European Parliament in which he was expected to unveil the priorities of the upcoming Spanish presidency of the EU Council.

The speech was initially scheduled to take place on 13 July. Upon Sánchez's request, it will now be moved to the plenary session of September.

The decision was taken in light of the snap general election the Spanish leader called on Monday following his socialist party's disappointing performance at local and regional elections over the weekend.

The nationwide vote has been pencilled for 23 July, meaning the speech would have happened right in the middle of the campaign.

Spain will take over the Council's rotating presidency on 1 July, replacing Sweden.  

The position does not carry executive powers but allows the appointed EU state to set the agenda, host meetings, steer negotiations, draft compromise texts, organise votes and speak vis-à-vis the other EU institutions.

It is customary for the leader of the presiding country to deliver a speech before the European Parliament and present the political priorities for the six-month term.

Sánchez's decision cast fresh doubts over Spain's ability to effectively fulfil the responsibilities associated with the presidency, as the government will be immersed in a high-stakes campaign while its turn at the Council's helm kicks off.

Spanish authorities insist the presidency will continue as planned under an absolute degree of normalcy, even if the executive changes political colour.

A spokesperson of the European Parliament confirmed President Roberta Metsola had received Sánchez's request on Friday morning.

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) had previously asked Metsola to delay the PM's speech in view of the snap election.

The EPP is betting on its Spanish affiliate, Partido Popular, led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, to win the general election and remove Sánchez and his left-wing coalition from power.

Since the exit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EPP has had no head of government at the top of a large member state.

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