The Spanish government has made an official request to delay the presentation of its upcoming priorities for the EU presidency in the plenary chamber of the European Parliament until September.
Originally, the presentation and a debate with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) regarding the program for the council’s rotating presidency were scheduled for 13 July in Strasbourg, which is only a few days before the Spanish national elections.
However, on 2 June, Madrid announced that it had informed the communication department of the European Parliament about this decision. This notification was made last Tuesday, shortly after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for snap elections on 23 July.
As a result, the national elections in Spain will occur just three weeks after the country assumes the six-month rotating EU presidency.
This is not the first instance where national elections have coincided with an EU chairmanship. A similar situation occurred during the French EU presidency last year.
Earlier this week, Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), urged the president of the EU Parliament, Roberta Metsola, to delay the initial dialogue with MEPs regarding the program of the Spanish presidency. The goal was to avoid a debate in the midst of an ongoing electoral campaign.
In a letter dated 1 June, which was seen by EUobserver, Weber requested that the Spanish presidency debate in the plenary be postponed until September. The aim was to allow the newly elected prime minister to present the council’s priorities without being entangled in domestic political conflicts. Weber expressed confidence that this minor adjustment to the institutional calendar would strengthen the legitimacy of the process, emphasizing the launch speech of the council presidency as a crucial moment for accountability.
After experiencing defeat for his Socialist party in local elections, Pedro Sánchez surprised everyone by advancing the elections.
According to recent polls, the center-right party PP is projected to win the upcoming general elections, with a lead of approximately 40 seats over Sánchez’s Socialist party PSOE.
Typically, when a country assumes the EU council presidency, the plenary debate takes place during the first month of the new presidency.
Spain will hold the EU council presidency until 31 December, after which it will be succeeded by Belgium.