Statement by Sandra Pereira in European Parliament

On the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union which now begins

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The Portuguese Government assumes, during the first half of 2021, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

For the PCP, this should be an opportunity for Portugal to put on the European Union's agenda the need to question the course and policies that it imposes on the peoples and which are at the root of the social inequalities and asymmetries of development that pass through it.

The scale of the problems that several countries in the European Union face, among them Portugal, enhanced by the current situation, requires the implementation of measures contrary to those that, over decades, created social regression, concentration of wealth, public disinvestment, fragility and privatisation of public services, weakening of the productive fabric, dependence, indebtedness, impoverishment of democracy, disregard for sovereignty.

The seriousness of the situation requires a different course that ensures the conditions for the sovereign development of countries like Portugal, to overcome structural deficits, to restore productive capacity, to raise the living standards of workers and peoples, valorising their wages, upholding, protecting and increasing their rights. A different course that assumes the defence of democracy, that is, of the economic, social, political, cultural rights and the sovereignty of each people.

This should therefore be the time for the Portuguese Government to affirm the need for a process of real cooperation and solidarity among equals. A time to affirm policies that, meeting Portugal's interests, would ensure an effective convergence in economic and social progress. A time to affirm, not the militarisation of the European Union within the framework of NATO, but of Peace as an inalienable value of all Humanity and of Europe as a continent that promotes international cooperation.

This is not the option of the Portuguese Presidency's programme, which essentially pursues the objectives of deepening the process of European capitalist integration and of its pillars and instruments of domination at the service of European powers and transnational capital.

One of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency is the implementation of the so-called “recovery fund”, associated with the application of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.

Regardless of the cuts in the EU Budget, the markedly insufficient character of the Recovery Fund and the direct and indirect indebtedness it represents, the PCP considers that the financial resources must be quickly mobilised, based on the real needs and on the economic and social reality of each country, and not based on the interests of large economic and financial groups, to finance an even greater weakening of the national productive fabric or so-called “structural reforms” that deepen social inequalities and injustices.

For the PCP, the application of the financial resources associated with the Recovery Fund must be free of economic and political conditionalities that interfere in the sovereign decisions of each country. In the case of Portugal, they must be directed mainly towards employment with rights, the strengthening of public services and of the social functions of the State, support for micro, small and medium-sized companies, investment in strategic and productive sectors, ensuring the right to development and social progress.

The holding of the so-called Social Summit, in May, should represent a time to affirm the need for a real increase of labour and social rights, not by the umpteenth proclamation of intentions and by levelling in regression, but by concrete measures and objectives that ensure the rights and convergence in progress. This requires measures that clearly break with the intensification of exploitation, precariousness, attack on labour rights, attack on public social security systems, disinvestment in general in public services and their privatisation.

A Pact for Employment and Social Progress is needed, aimed at full employment, the creation and promotion of jobs with rights, the defence of collective bargaining, the eradication of precariousness, the valorisation of wages, the reduction of working hours without loss of pay. A Pact that promotes the defence and strengthening of public services in each country, ensuring rights, such as the rights to healthcare, education, housing, social security.

The PCP warns that the so-called "European Health Union", or European health market, does not point towards the capacitating and necessary strengthening of public health services, but seeks to open the door to projects for the liberalisation, privatisation and concentration of this sector.

As regards the so-called Green Agenda, the PCP stresses that the necessary defence of the environment, management of natural resources and mitigation of climate change must be inseparable from the defence and promotion of national production and productive sectors, with the planning of economic activity, recovery and development of strategic sectors, from the outset in energy and transport, reducing the country's structural deficits, ensuring environmental and territorial balance and placing national resources at the service of each country and its people.

With the aim of preserving the balance of Nature and its ecological systems, the answer to environmental problems must also guarantee the democratisation of access and enjoyment of Nature, among which universal access to water, combating the commodification of the environment, privatisation of resources and their ideological and political instrumentalization.

With regard to the so-called digital transition, the PCP draws attention to projects under development that may lead to a deepening of inequalities, a greater monopolistic concentration and further attacks on national sovereignty.

The development and technological advances of the digital sector must not represent a process of deepening and expanding the single market, geared to the concentration of data and information and to the economic domination by multinationals. On the contrary, the achievements in the fields of science and technology should be used to leverage national development strategies, within the framework of the recovery of public control of strategic sectors, such as communications, while contributing to the enhancement of labour rights and reducing working hours without loss of pay.

The intentions assumed by the Portuguese Presidency in terms of international relations, namely the relaunching of transatlantic relations, consolidate a vision of liberalisation of trade relations and encourage the EU's militaristic and interventionist strategy of alignment with the USA, namely within the framework of NATO. There is an urgent need to establish a path that guides the relations between countries in compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law and the principles enshrined therein of the right to peace, the sovereignty and independence of States, non-interference and peaceful solution of international conflicts.

The programme of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union does not point out the solutions to the serious problems that people are facing. This answer is found in the respect and affirmation of the right to development and social progress of each country, according to its specificities. It lies in ensuring the rights of the workers and peoples, namely the Portuguese people. It lies in the rejection of impositions and constraints strange and contrary to national interest. And with a view to building a Europe of cooperation between sovereign states and equal in rights, of social progress and peace.