Iratxe García Pérez is the president of the S&D Group and leads the Group’s 154 MEPs. Find out more about her vision and work.
This is a crucial time in Europe, both for the future of the European project and for social democracy.
The EU is under threat like never before. In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of populist, Eurosceptic, xenophobic and far-right movements that are resurrecting the worst ghosts of our past. We have also seen inequality grow since the financial crisis with a Union that has been unable to meet the needs of our citizens.
Globalisation, digitalisation, migration and the climate crisis are real everyday challenges that affect all of us. Those who use fear as a political tool to divide our societies exploit these challenges. The best antidote is to offer safety and security and to turn fear into positive action by providing a sound project for a better future.
Now is the time for positive action and our political family is the only one who can deliver it. We have the principles and we have the experience. Throughout our history, we have managed to combine idealism with effective action to tackle inequality and injustice. Now is the moment to do it again. Europe needs us more than ever and I am honoured to lead our collective efforts within the Parliament to turn that transformation into reality.
I have been a member of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) since I was 20, when I was a student activist. I am a social worker by profession and I have volunteered for several NGOs.
I am from Laguna de Duero, a town in the region of Castilla y León. In this rural setting, people see Europe as a faraway place representing a future they cannot find at home. Laguna de Duero is where I had my first political responsibility as a city councillor and where I learnt the value of local politics, the honour of representing fellow citizens and the importance of fighting for equal opportunities, no matter where you are born and irrespective of your gender.
That fight for equality is the driving force of social democracy.
As European social democrats we want a more social, united, feminist and environmentalist Europe, with more solidarity. We want to move forward because progress is the only way to achieve freer, fairer and more equal societies.
Europe must regain its social soul and put people and the fight against inequalities at the heart of its political action.
We want a Europe with strengthened financial and fiscal architecture, at the forefront of a democratic digital revolution, which is able to benefit all sectors of society.
We want a strong, safe and united Europe in order to address the global challenges that no single country can face on its own.
We want a feminist, diverse and democratic Europe that: effectively fights against the pay gap and male violence against women and defends our sexual and reproductive rights, as well as the fundamental rights of the LGBTI+ community and other groups suffering from discrimination, throughout the Union.
When we say feminism, we mean doing feminism.
When we say democracy, we mean doing democracy.
We want an ecological Europe that shows solidarity towards its next generations. This is a Europe that listens and provides answers to young people who call for political action in order to tackle the climate emergency, through a fair and sustainable transition making sure nobody is left behind, based on the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.
And we want more solidarity in Europe, not only within our borders but also for those who knock on our door from fleeing war, hunger and climate disasters. This is a Europe with a real common asylum and migration policy, based on responsibility and solidarity among member states, as well as respect for human dignity. Europe must remain the beacon of human rights in the world.
The Parliament and the European Council are now more fragmented than ever. We are the only political family that can form a progressive and pro-European majority to stand up to far right, nationalist and populist forces. From the inside, these forces are trying to destroy the only project in our history that has brought peace, prosperity and well-being to millions of Europeans for more than 60 years.
Recent electoral victories prove that social democracy is very much alive. We should not give up on our efforts to meet citizens’ needs and improve life for so many people that deserve better.
As the second woman to chair our Group I am looking forward to working with current and new colleagues, with enthusiasm and optimism, looking ahead and putting my heart and soul into improving the lives of all citizens.
Our strength lies in this unity and I appreciate the support that fellow MEPs in the Group have given me. We must regain a strong voice that makes us distinct in this new political cycle.
This voice also belongs to our entire political family through sister organisations like PES, YES, PES Women, PES in the Committee of the Regions and FEPS. We will work side by side with the governments, Commissioners and national member parties. We are a big family, with a great past but most importantly, with future full of hope. Social democracy is, above all, about the future and about hope.
Let’s turn this new page together.
Let’s make it happen together!