Felipe González, the Spanish President who spent the longest term in power during the democracy has been one of the great pioneers in developing relations between Europe and Latin America, always advocating the improvement of the relationship between the two regions.
As well as undertaking advisory work and collaborating regularly with journalists, he is the President of the Global Progress Commission of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party), which is involved in stimulating debate and creating a new platform for ideas and proposals for political action which confront current challenges and problems.
In 2007 the Council of Ministers appointed him Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for the celebration of the Bicentenary of American Independence, which began in 2010. Also in 2007, the Heads of State and Government of the European Union at a meeting of the European Council appointed him President of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe, known as the Committee of Wise Men, which was dissolved after the relevant report was submitted. Additionally, González is a member of the European Steering Committee Our Europe, the International Council of the Shimon Peres Centre for Peace, the InterAction Council, the Club de Madrid and the Círculo de Montevideo.
THE PATH TO BECOMING PRESIDENT OF SPAIN
After studying Law, Economy and Industrial Relations he joined the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party in 1963, which at that time was forced to operate in secrecy due to the Franco Regime. He was elected Secretary General in 1974, and from then on worked on defining and reinforcing the party’s ideology and theories.
Felipe González contributed a great deal to the policial transition in Spain. The strong cohesion of his party in the 80s and his unarguable talent enabled his party to win an absolute majority in 1982.
Felipe González was the President of Spain for fourteen years. His governance was marked by enormous reforms: making free public education available to everyone up to the age of sixteen, creating more opportunities for access to university and providing a comprehensive Social Security system. He also carried out a huge industrial restructuring process, as well as reforms to the army, by making its members professional. On the international front, the cornerstone of his policy was Spain’s accession to the European Union in 1986, along with its relationship with Latin America as previously mentioned.
My idea of Europe
What is Europe? What do we want Europe to be? In what direction should its institutions and citizens head in order to be well positioned in a globalised, ever-changing world?
The old continent, the European Union, during this time of uncertainty and crisis, is facing a series of challenges, and its future will be determined by how well or badly they are dealt with. These are: the consolidation of strong leadership and effective operation of the institutions wielding real power; the internal cohesion of its citizens and the integration of immigrants; domestic security and the development of a common course of action on the international scene for conflict resolution; the relationship with other regions such as Latin America and the Mediterranean countries; the response to future challenges like energy supply, technological development, education policy and the balance between economic, social and cultural development.
Europe is in crisis and it needs the audacity of hope, and the pragmatism of ideas to approach a promising future. A committed pro-European, witness to and leading figure in the process of European integration, in this book, Felipe González considers with great perspicacity, completely avoiding clichés and directly tackling controversy, the past, present and future of that dream called Europe which is still to be fulfilled.
He has published several books such as Mi Idea de Europa, Un estilo ético (My Idea of Europe: An ethical approach), with Víctor Márquez Reviriego and El futuro no es lo que era (The Future is Not What it Used to Be), with Juan Luis Cebrián. As well, he has written the essays El socialismo and Memorias del futuro (Socialism and Memoirs of the Future). His political work has been recognised on several occasions. He won the the prestigious Charlemagne Prize, for his contribution to European unity, the Carlos V Prize in 2000, awarded by the European Academy of Yuste, Spain; the Collar of the Order of Isabel la Católica; the Great Golden Cross for Merit of the Republic of Austria and the Order of the Quetzal with the rank of Commander from the Republic of Guatemala, among other distinctions. He is also holds Honorary Degrees from the universities of Toulouse and Lovaina.