Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez talks freedom and Brexit in EU parliament speech

SPAIN’S Prime Minister said peace, democracy and freedom could not be taken for granted while addressing MEPs in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday 16.

Pedro Sanchez called on parliament members to “protect” Europe and to help the EU recover its legitimacy with a new social contract. He was speaking as part of a debate on the future of the bloc.

“If Europe is to protect us, we need to protect Europe. Protecting Europe is, today more than ever, providing it with flexible tools in decision-making,” Sanchez said.

The EU should strive for greater economic integration, more action to tackle climate change and a more humane policy towards migrants arriving in member states.

“The prestige of Europe is questioned when attitudes contrary to the most essential humanity emerge at its core,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said Brexit was a situation in which “nobody wins” but that Britain’s decision to leave the EU should be respected. The Brexit deal rejected by Parliament on Tuesday was the best available, he added.

Esteban Gonzalez Pons, the spokesperson of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) in the European Parliament, said Sanchez was governing Spain in league with pro-independence groups and the “extreme left”.

“What has hurt me most is his failure to speak about the unity of Spain in his speech,” Gonzalez said.

Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s Vice President, praised Sanchez for taking in 600 migrants from the Aquarius boat last year.

“That was for me a defining moment when you stood up and said on behalf of the Spanish people, we will not let these people float in the sea. That’s true political leadership,” Timmermans said.

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