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EU Elections Unpacked: a close look at the Socialist manifesto

In previous EU elections unpacked briefings, we examined the future of the Green Deal and the potential impact of the EP election on the financial services sector. Here, we examine the priorities of the centre-left Party of European Socialists as set out in their manifesto. Our subsequent briefing will examine the priorities and ambitions set out in the manifesto of the centre-right European People’s Party. Analysis of other parties’ manifestos will follow.

The Party of European Socialists (PES) serves as an umbrella party for the Socialist, Social Democratic, and Labour Parties of the European Union, positioning itself as the progressive force in the region. Within the European Parliament, the PES is represented by the Progressive Alliance of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), currently comprising 145 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Leading this group in the European Parliament is Spanish MEP Iratxe García Pérez, who is likely to be elected for another mandate as MEP.

The essence of PES’s manifesto for the 2024 European Parliament election reflects the core principles that the party has long championed. These include advocating for the right to quality jobs and fair wages, a new Green and Social Deal for a fair transition, protecting democracy, fostering a strong and competitive European economy to preserve jobs, combating the rising cost of living, advocating for a feminist Europe and a Europe that prioritizes young people, championing accessible and affordable housing for all, and promoting a strategically independent and strong Europe committed to peace, security, human rights and sustainable development.

Moreover, PES takes a clear stance against the far-right, viewing it as a threat to both citizens and the European project. The party explicitly rejects any cooperations or coalition formation with far-right parties. 

Here, we delve deeper into PES’s main proposals structured by business-critical areas.

An economic vision based on investment, protectionism and fair corporate taxation

Looking at the EU’s macro-economic priorities, the Socialists call for a ‘permanent EU investment capacity,’ granting Member States the ability to invest beyond the conventional debt and deficit principles of the so-called EU fiscal rules. There is ongoing discourse regarding the potential elimination of these thresholds, particularly heightened by the COVID crisis, during which they were temporarily lifted to afford the Member States and the EU Commission the flexibility in implementing post-pandemic recovery plans.

Central to their economic vision is the promotion of a ‘Made in Europe’ strategy, grounded in the European model of social market economy. This entails financing projects within Europe aimed at developing an economy that is resilient, sustainable and fair thereby creating employment opportunities within the EU. This strategy is complemented by a reimagined approach to competition policy, focused on a fair Single Market for goods and services, underpinned by transparent state aid rules. Additionally, the PES pledge to creating an Investment Plan geared towards facilitating the Green and Digital transitions, creating new jobs, reindustrialising Europe, fostering innovation, competitiveness and circularity, aligning with their overarching ‘Made in Europe’ strategy.

A core tenet of the PES agenda is the imperative for effective corporate taxation. This includes advocating for measures such as a windfall profits tax, levying taxes on the wealthiest individuals – an ongoing campaign at EU level – and persistently pushing for EU-wide taxation of financial transactions, a long-standing Socialist aspiration yet to be realised. The envisioned taxation framework is intended to underpin and finance the EU ‘social model’ referenced above. Concurrently, there is a strong emphasis on combatting tax fraud and evasion, with proposals encompassing the application of the global minimum corporate taxes and tackling tax havens. The manifesto also calls for abolishing unanimous decision-making in taxation matters, and for leveraging taxation revenues to combat gender-based discrimination.

The twin transition remains a priority

The Socialists underscore their commitment to fostering digital inclusion and tech literacy by promising significant investments in digital public infrastructure and education. Ensuring that workers possess the tools to acquire and refine digital skills for the digital transition is paramount. To this end, they propose a comprehensive plan for reindustrialisation within the context of the Green and Digital transitions. Additionally, they emphasise the imperative of combatting cybercrime through enhanced policing and judicial cooperation, as well as the need to safeguarding democracies from foreign interference. With a specific focus on AI, they call on upholding the current EU principle of ‘human in control’ and assert control over the impact of AI on employment.

Reiterating their commitment to renewable energy, the PES pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. They advocate for a complete transition to a renewable and clean energy mix, alongside proposing reforms to the energy market aimed at ensuring price stability and affordability. Furthermore, the vow to combat plastic and chemical pollution, while prioritising the development of efficient and sustainable water protection and management measures.

Addressing concerns from agricultural communities – currently among the strongest opponents to the Green Deal agenda – the Socialists want to strengthen the EU’s common agricultural policy to support farmers and reduce the use of pesticides. While none of these proposals are new, some observers in Brussels have criticised them for their perceived vagueness and lack of ambition. In response, the PES underscores the importance of integrating a new social dimension into the Green Deal to ensure a just transition for all Europeans.

Putting workers’ rights centre stage

In a dedicated section titled ‘securing quality jobs for all,’ the Socialists outline a comprehensive roadmap aimed at fostering quality employment and ensuring fair remuneration. Central to this agenda is the commitment to combat in-work poverty, with a specific target of closing gender pay gaps by 2030 and mitigating disparities in pay between workers. Additionally, the PES pledge to work towards achieving zero workplace fatalities.

In practical terms, the Socialists advocate for the full implementation of the Platform Workers Directive to safeguard the rights of workers in the gig economy. They also emphasise the importance of protecting the rights of trade unions and strengthening the mandate of the European Labour Authority to ensure robust enforcement of labour standards across the EU.

Supporting Ukraine and enhancing global cooperation

The Socialists aim to improve the diplomatic outreach of the EU by strengthening the European External Action Service. In the realm of international relations, they affirm their commitment to supporting Ukraine and advocate for the continued enlargement of the Union. Additionally, they advocate for a recalibration of Europe’s relationship with China to achieve greater balance.

Furthermore, the Socialists call for deepening cooperation with key international partners, including the US, the UK and other democratic allies. They also endorse a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

On trade policy, the PES seeks to advance trade and foreign policy objectives by cultivating new partnerships of equals with the global south. This includes revitalising partnerships such as the Africa-EU partnership, rejuvenating the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and advocating for a new EU-Latin America Progressive Agenda.

Regarding security and defence, they call for strengthening key institutions such as Europol, the European Public Prosecutors Office and the Anti-Money Laundering Authority. They are also calling for implementation of a robust European Common Security and Defence Policy to complement NATO’s efforts in ensuring European security.

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Léa Bareil, Deputy head, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs 

Gonçalo Loureiro, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs Intern

Annabelle Duramé, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs Intern