Luis Yáñez: 'Jean Claude Juncker for Europe'

Article published on March 23, 2009
Article published on March 23, 2009
The socialist and veteran of *Felipe Gonzalez’s Sevillian generation entered the European parliament in 2004. His critics maintained that he had landed there after being spurned from national politics. The 65-year-old intends to run for a second term in 2009

(Image: ©Spanish delegation, PES)June’s European elections are just around the corner and politicians are working hard to communicate their promises, but the most important European issues are noticeably absent in the debates, which are far too nationalistic. To top it all off, almost none of the European parties has outlined their candidate’s role as president of the European commission. The socialists will announce in February whether there is a possibility that the Dane, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, will jump into the bullring which is the electoral campaign. A campaign that the media desperately wish would have the impact the US elections had. But only a miracle will bring US president Obama to Europe. The European Union needs politicians that specialise in European politics, not birds of passage that have been exiled from national politics. Europe isn’t just an entry on this Sevillan's CV.

What is the biggest challenge facing democracy in Europe in view of the upcoming elections in June 2009?

Without a doubt it is the putting into practice of the Lisbon treaty, although it’s also the creation of a common energy strategy, proposals to combat climate change and the debate over the new social Europe (the party of European socialists's aim, setting out the principles and guidelines for the future).

Would you motivate the European electorate to use national issues or transeuropean debates?

Unfortunately politicians and the media never stop making European politics all about Europe. For this reason, national issues will once again become significant in 2009. Each country’s internal politics influences European politics far too much.

The PES doesn’t have a majority force in the European parliament, but what strategy should they use to become once again the party with the most seats? We have to show that the new conservative parties have had very negative results in view of the current global economic crisis.

If you headed up the socialist group for an Italian constituency, what would you say to your new body of voters?

Several legislative sessions ago, some politicians tried to get nationals from some countries to present themselves in others. Felipe González, for example, suggested that Emma Bonino head up the socialist group in Spain, but the idea didn’t get any further. I would say the same thing to my virtual Italian voters as I would to the Spanish: the priority is to put into practice the Lisbon treaty, the new social Europe principles and the strategy for energy supply.

Do you think that the European socialists should campaign for the 2009 European elections and already propose a candidate for president of the European commission?

The president of the European commission should be a member of the majority party in the European parliament. We want to be the majority party, so it makes sense for us to put forward a candidate. It’s something that’s being discussed.

If there was more of Europe, what would you prioritise?

Without a doubt it would be foreign politics and shared security so that the EU can start to become a global player.

Flexibility or security?

Flexicurity! It’s an idea that will become increasingly popular.

Constitution or treaty?

I would have preferred the constitution because of its symbolic value, but the Lisbon treaty encompasses 90% of the constitution.

Tony Blair (UK) or Jean Claude Juncker (Luxembourg)?

Jean Claude Juncker for Europe.

What non-Spanish speaking author are you reading at the moment?

Marguerite Yourcenar, very typical, very Brussels.

*Felipe Gonzalez was secretary general of the Spanish socialist worker’s party, taking part in their clandestine resistance activities during the Franco era. He later becoming the longest serving prime minister of Spain