Spanish President Pedro Sánchez put forward a contrarian message Wednesday to the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — that social and environmental justice can and must go hand-in-hand with economic growth and financial stability as the global economy attempts to face up to myriad problems and challenges in the coming years.
And did that message from the leader of the sixth largest economy in Europe and 13th largest worldwide ruffle feathers of the global financial and economic elite assembled at Davos?
Apparently not, as press reports from the economic summit say major global investors have already come to terms with the progressive governing coalition formed between Sánchez’s Socialist party and the further-left Unidos Podemos and believe Spain’s new government “will be reasonable and responsible and will implemente serious policies”.
In a half-hour speech to the WEF assembly just one day after U.S. President Donald Trump verged on climate-change denial and stumped for laissez-faire capitalism as the solution to the world’s economic and social woes, Sánchez put Spain clearly in another camp, emphasizing the need to fight climate change, end discrimination against women in the workplace and society, make the rich pay their fair share of taxes and put end to fiscal austerity policies that widen the gap between the haves and have-nots worldwide.
► ► CLICK ABOVE TO WATCH PEDRO SÁNCHEZ SPEECH [IN ENGLISH] ► ►
“There can be no social justice without tax justice,” Sánchez said, urging world leaders to put an end to off-shore fiscal “paradises” where the world’s wealthiest individuals and corporations hide their riches from tax authorities in their home countries.
“Economic growth at any cost is not acceptable. Growth that widens the social divide is not acceptable. Growth that creates pockets of working poor is not acceptable,” Sánchez told his audience. “We need to grow and distribute at the same time.”
If those messages did not create a stir among the global financial elite in attendance, it could well be due to the fact that in order to calm investor fears Sánchez was accompanied on his visit to Davos this year by ministers whose presence in his 22-member cabinet is designed precisely to project Spain’s new government as fiscally responsible.
First among these was Minister for the Economy & Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, who from 2014-18 was General Director for Budget of the European Commission and is well-known in European and world financial circles. Also accompanying Sanchez was Minister for Environmental Transition Teresa Ribera, whose focus is on creating a vibrant transformation in Spain’s economy to bring it in line with UN and European targets for reduction of carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
No Unidas Podemos ministers from the coalition government were in attendance. But even so, Sánchez himself expressed surprise that in private meetings with investors the question of Unidas Podemos was not raised. “I had to bring it up myself,” Sánchez said, obviously pleased that Unidas Podemos’ role in his government seems already to have been factored in to Spain’s economic equation by global investment analysts.
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