The music plays and they both want to dance. But the first steps are somewhat clumsy. It is only a first rehearsal, but fluidity is lacking despite the unequivocal will. Pedro Sanchez Y Olaf Scholz they want that Spain Y Germany reinforce their understanding of the new European choreography. Both met yesterday in La Moncloa, in the first visit of this year by the new chancellor outside of Germany. After having already passed through Paris, Rome, Brussels, Warsaw and Amsterdam. The visit was key for Pedro Sánchez, who wanted to show an ideological closeness with Berlin that would allow him to overcome the traditional north-south divisions that have marked European governance in the past. The president of government he is convinced that Spain loses in that division.
With the precedent of the economic response to the pandemic, Sánchez highlighted the role of Scholz, in his previous functions as Finance Minister, in promoting the recovery plan through the european funds: “Some achievements bear his signature,” said Sánchez, highlighting his “unquestionable leadership in the Eurogroup» when negotiating these stimuli. Scholz did not want to be less. “The ties between the two countries are very good. Today is another step to ensure that we remain very good friends.” Evident will to show “tuning” in this “new stage”.
Sánchez and Scholz are currently the two main rulers of the social democratic family in the old continent. Both recognize the other as a “friend” and agree on their ideas about social and economic progress, as well as their commitment to the green and digital transitions. But at the moment of truth they are still Spain and Germany. With different needs and conditions of internal politics that oblige them both. But the fact of sharing an ideological line in general terms is not enough. The new chancellor governs a tripartite coalition in which, in view of his understanding with the Spanish government, he has the condition of the liberal party. While Sánchez maintains his mortgages with United We Can.
And this was made very clear in one of the most important debates that the European Union: the debate on the modification of the fiscal rules in force in the European Stability Pact. Those that marked the debt level at 60% of the START and of annual deficit at 3%. They are currently suspended until 2023 due to the pandemic. And the debate on its reform opens. In this regard, Sánchez pointed out that “the fiscal rules are complex and difficult to comply with in the context of the pandemic and the Government of Spain considers that they must be reformed.” Scholz did not want to mention this issue at first. But in the questions from the press he was clear that in no case did he make an amendment to all of these rules: «The past has shown that in Europe when we jointly solve economic problems is when we do best. The stability pact has given us the framework for the recovery fund. We want to continue building on the experiences of the past. Europe will walk hand in hand in the coming years on the basis of the stability pact, which has served as a framework and helps us in the future.”
The positions are not the same. Although sources of Moncloa they are optimistic that the debate can be substantiated so that, in no case, by 2023 will the countries be forced to make significant budgetary adjustments. Sánchez insisted on this idea, claiming that there are still important stimuli to be carried out: «The main priority of Europe is to agree on the medium-term sustainability of public finances, addressing the ecological transition and digital transformation, something that will require leveraging private investment, but that needs the leadership of public investment”, Scholz, for his part, recalled that the A large part of the agreed recovery funds are yet to reach the countries. Spain’s priority is that these rules be reformed. But despite the fact that the maximum aspiration and needs may be more similar to those of France and Italy, Sánchez does not want to appear aligned in a southern bloc. In his opinion, this division would obstruct the real possibilities of modifying the rules. In this sense, he has said that he aspires to approach this debate from an “integrative and not by blocks” perspective. That is why the relationship with Scholz is important for Sánchez.
The other key issue on which there is a lack of understanding right now is the reform of the european energy market. “We have different visions,” Sánchez acknowledged. In the month of October, both countries were in opposing blocs when debating a proposal made by countries such as Spain or France to reform the energy market, with joint purchases of gas, and the pricing system.