Sanchez Considers that Brussels Endorses the Spanish Budget for 2019

The Spanish government believes it has passed the first litmus test of budgets in Brussels. 

The president, Pedro Sanchez, met on Wednesday separately with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and with the European Council, Donald Tusk. Sanchez left the meeting with Juncker convinced that Brussels endorses the outline of public accounts for 2019 that Spain presented on Monday in Brussels, according to Moncloa sources. Juncker told Sanchez that the Spanish accounts are positive, explain those sources. The leader of the Commission stressed that they were above all in comparison with others, a reference probably aimed at Italy, whose breaches of the deficit targets concern the community institutions.

The Spanish president met, at his request, about half an hour with each of the presidents. He did it shortly before starting the summit of Heads of State and Government that has started in Brussels and will continue until next Friday. With Juncker, Sanchez has talked mainly about the budget, which has been agreed with Podemos and whose main lines have been sent to Brussels to assess whether it has consistency. That project, “unlike others, is good and positive,”.

The Commission has avoided making assessments and will only issue an evaluation when it has examined the accounts in more detail. On the one hand, Brussels is interested in supporting a pro-European government with a vocation to play a more active role in institutions such as Spain. On the other hand, the main lines of the budget raise some questions regarding the ways to finance expenses such as the equalization of paternity and maternity leave that Brussels can question. Brexit, a key issue at the European summit, was also on the table, both in that dialogue with Juncker and in the one he had with the European Council leader. Although it is of great interest for Spain, the issue of Gibraltar was hardly discussed, as confirmed by this institution and Moncloa. The impression obtained by the Council, which represents the Member States, is that the protocol of Gibraltar that must accompany the general agreement of Brexit is practically closed, as indicated these days by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell.

The conversation with Tusk also addressed the migratory pressure. Spain has been pressuring Brussels for months to allocate more resources to contain arrivals along the Western Mediterranean route, which ends in Spain.