MADRID (Reuters) – Spain wants to delay the presentation of priorities for its upcoming EU presidency until months after assuming the bloc’s rotating leadership in July 1 due to a snap election, which some diplomats fear could disrupt Europe’s agenda.
The move contrasts with the Spanish government’s earlier claims that the elections would in no way affect the timetable of the European presidency and that everything would go ahead as planned.
On Monday, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez decided to dissolve parliament and call a snap election on July 23 following heavy losses for his Socialist Party in local and regional votes held on May 28.
Sanchez was set to address the European Parliament’s plenary session on July 13 to outline Madrid’s main policies during the six-month presidency, but has now requested it be delayed to September, an official from Sanchez’s Office told Reuters.
With the change, EU lawmakers will be informed of Spain’s priorities for the bloc two months after the start of the mandate, opening the door for the speech to be made by the new Spanish premier who replaces Sanchez if he is defeated.
“The EU presidency will suffer during the campaign because the prime minister will have to decide whether to campaign, whether to dedicate himself to exercising his institutional role, or whether he will end up mixing the two,” MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons, one of the leaders at the main opposition PP, told Reuters. The conservative People’s Party (PP) is most likely to win the elections, according to polls.
“Whatever happens, we are and will be in a position to give stability and continuity to the presidency to ensure that it is a success for the whole country, not the government in power,” he said.