President of the S&D Group Iratxe Garcia Perez (L) speaks with President of the European People's Party (EPP) Manfred Weber (R). EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND


EPP press director slams Socialists over warning letter to EC President von der Leyen


The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) has lambasted a warning letter sent by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

In the September 6 letter, the S&D Group – the EPP’s traditional coalition partners – warned von der Leyen that its support is “conditional” and that it “expects” her support for the group’s slew of progressive initiatives.

Responding to an email sent by Brussels Signal, EPP press director Pedro Lopez de Pablo said the centre-left group was looking to shift attention from its own problems.

“They probably need a cover to justify their deals with Communist, pro-Russian and other radical left parties,” he said.

Many of those within the S&D Group forge alliances with hard-left parties on national and local levels.

In Belgium, Socialists work together with the hard-line Communist Party at the municipal level. In Spain, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s centre-left group is criticised by the Right for creating alliances with Basque and Catalan separatists, as well as Sumar, a new coalition party led by former Communist Party member Yolanda Diaz.

Members of the S&D Group, including Slovakia’s Smer and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, have been branded as “pro-Russian” for their critical stances on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Socialist Party has been taken to task over its refusal to condemn Moscow’s actions, while observers have pointed to an apparent rising tide of support for Russia in Slovakia.

Lopez de Pablo said the EPP was “very used” to the methods of the S&D Group, especially when it comes to “who the EPP talks or do not talk to”.

The Socialists’ individual MEPs were still cooperative with their fellow-parliamentarians of all political stripes, “ignoring the communication lines of their leaders”.

He added: “This only shows the [Socialists’] lack of leadership.”

Tensions between the main political elements in the EU have increased in recent months. While the bloc’s centre-left and centre-right groups have traditionally allied in grand coalitions in the European Parliament, recent issues such as the Nature Restoration Act have seen the EPP take sides with the more right-wing ECR and ID groups.

The tight margins on votes over the Act led to flared tempers in the Parliament.

EPP leader Manfred Weber said that the Left’s style of campaigning was “destroying common sense”.

As the various political groups mobilise ahead of the European Parliament 2024 elections, observers say apparent polarisation may produce the most interesting campaign yet.

Regarding the Left’s petitioning of von der Leyen, the EPP has remained dubious of it having any sway.

“We do not have any comment to make regarding their requests and I am very sure that the president of the Commission is very able to evaluate which of these, if any, it is worthy [of consideration],” Lopez de Pablo said.

“We are very used to the bouncer methods of the S&D Group in their communication regarding with who the EPP Group talks or do not talk to,” the press director wrote. “They probably need a cover to justify their deals with Communist, pro-Russian and other radical left parties. In the meantime, their MEPs work daily in all kind of different legislative files with the EPP Group, RENEW or the ECR, ignoring the communication line of their leaders. This only show the lack of leadership and ambition of the Socialists.”