Rasmussen: ‘Socialists will treat state aid differently if elected’

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If the Socialists gain more influence following the June European elections, there will be more state aid for economic restructuring cases, such as the Poland’s Gda?sk shipyards, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, president of the Party of European Socialists, told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview today.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is president of the Party of European Socialists.

The European People’s Party is holding its congress in Warsaw at the moment, and you are also in Poland yourself, in Kraków. What is the purpose of your visit? 

My purpose is to be there with my colleagues from the Democratic Left Alliance, from the Polish centre-left, and to formulate here in Kraków an alternative to the Europeans People’s Party [conference] in Warsaw. 

The EPP says its wants to protect families. I say ‘that’s a false promise’. The EPP is doing nothing to protect families. Families are losing thousands of jobs, millions of jobs, because of the economic crisis. 

We are the ones who have an alternative, creating ten million jobs in the next five years. Therefore I can understand why thousands of shipyard workers are protesting in Warsaw against the EPP. 

The only thing the EPP wants is the next presidencies of the European Commission and of the European Parliament. Those are the jobs they are interested in. But we are talking about real jobs, we are talking about social Europe, and that’s why I’m here. 

The protests by shipyard workers in Warsaw, organised by Solidarno??, appear to be directed against European Commission President José Manuel Barroso as a symbol of the EU executive, not against the EPP itself.

Yes, but that is more or less the same thing, because Mr. Barroso is the candidate of the EPP for one more term. I say ‘no, we cannot support Mr. Barroso’. 

For us, these protests are on the same questions as ours. We agree with them. We must ensure our jobs and our future. And we must have a strong Commission to lead in the recovery out of this world crisis. 

Do you see any irony of history in these protests? Thirty years ago, the world was with Solidarno??, but does this appear to be just another industrial conflict today? 

No, it’s not an irony of history. Now there is freedom to speak, freedom to protest, freedom to participate in politics, in demonstrations. But we, European politicians, are responsible for finding a way out of this world-wide crisis. 

Otherwise, we will have 25-27 million unemployed in Europe next year. This is what the protests in Warsaw are about, but also in Berlin, in Paris and in many other places, that’s what they are telling us. 

Concretely speaking, these protests were held because the European Commission refused to sanction state aid for the shipyard. If the PES became more influential, would there be more state aid for cases such as this one? 

Yes, I think so. Social Democrats and progressives all over Europe are beginning to gain ground. I see that in Poland. I see it in Germany, where the Social Democrats have very, very good prospects. We also have other examples. 

I do not exclude that we could be the biggest group in the European Parliament, if we run our campaign effectively, and I think we can achieve that goal. Because we are the only ones to have a recovery plan for Europe. 

There is no official PES candidate to replace Mr. Barroso at the Commission, and the same goes for the European Parliament. Why is that? 

For the EP, in fact, there are a lot of candidates from our side. But the most important thing is not who is going to be the next EP president. The most important thing is what is the European Parliament going to do to ensure our jobs, our security, our future. That’s what it is about. 

As far as the PES is concerned, we cannot support Mr. Barroso. He is the candidate of the conservatives, and we’ve seen what the guy has being doing for the past five years. 

We will have our candidate in the event that we have a majority in the next European Parliament. 

Will you be this candidate? 

That will be decided once we know the outcome of the elections and a majority will be formed. 

The Spanish and Portuguese socialist prime ministers support Mr. Barroso. Is this the reason why the PES doesn’t have a candidate yet? 

No, we have no problems of that kind. Everyone has agreed that in the case of a new majority, the new Commission president will not be Mr. Barroso. 

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