_ José María Aznar opened the conference, in which representatives of both foundations and of the European Commission, among others, took part.
_ Nationalism and populism, political and economic reforms, and unemployment, issues of debate
The FAES Foundation and the German Hanns Seidel Foundation have held in Madrid the seminar “Spain and Portugal before the European elections,” a meeting on nationalism and populism, political and economic reforms and unemployment with the horizon of the elections to the European Parliament next May. Among others, the former president of the Government and president of FAES, José María Aznar; the former minister Josep Piqué; the vice-president of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Markus Ferber, and the director of FAES, Javier Zarzalejos, as well as other representatives of both foundations and of the European Commission, took part.
In this two-day working meeting, experts and politicians from different EU countries analysed issues such as the threat that nationalism and populism represent for the European project, in the conviction that the secessionist challenge not only threatens the unity of Spain but could extend to other European regions.
The difficulties in translating political reforms into electoral successes have also occupied the debates, given the refusal of certain governments, such as the Spanish and Portuguese ones, to advance the reformist agenda in order to win the favour of the electorate with short-term policies. Likewise, employment policies have been addressed, fundamentally those related to youth employment, as well as the effectiveness of the instruments implemented by the EU such as the 'Youth Employment Initiative' in the face of the European elections.
The sessions, inaugurated by José María Aznar and Markus Ferber, were attended by, among others, the former Minister Josep Piqué; the former Mayor of Cascais and former Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Transport and Communication of Portugal, Miguel Pinto Luz; the German Ambassador to Spain, Wolfgang Dold; the Hungarian Ambassador to Spain and Portugal, Enyko Gyori; the head of the cabinet of the PP President, Javier Fernández-Lasquetty; the director of FAES, Javier Zarzalejos; Markus Schulte, member of the cabinet of the European Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budgets; Laura de Esteban, vice-president of EPP Women and IDU Women; Ann Westman, economic advisor of the European Commission Representation Office in Spain; Steven Van Hecke, professor at the Catholic University of Louvain; José Herrera, International Director of FAES; and Miguel Marín, consultant and responsible for FAES Economics area.
With the holding of this first seminar, the FAES and Hanns Seidel foundations begin a cycle of joint activities which, under the title “Talks on the Future of the European Union,” will review the different challenges and difficulties faced by the EU.