1. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
I am very pleased to have played a key role in getting trade policy to incorporate the gender perspective. This will empower women and give them the opportunity to access the benefits of trade agreements on an equal footing. For the first time, a trade agreement, the EU-Chile Modernisation Agreement, of which I was rapporteur, will incorporate a gender chapter. Women deserve it.
2. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
I have two hobbies that I love and that relax me a lot: cooking and taking care of our little garden.
3. Which person you have worked with has most inspired you in your career, and how?
Government President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. A complete, simple man of strong, progressive and democratic convictions. He taught me to have a profound view of politics. I was the first woman elected as Federal Secretary of Economy and Employment of the PSOE and I was re-elected over 10 years (2004 -2014). It was thanks to José Luis because he wanted, for the first time in the history of Spanish socialism, a woman to hold this responsibility. I was fortunate to live with him during the greatest period of economic progress in Spain’s history, and also the terrible financial crisis that came after.
4. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
It is very difficult to choose only one book, but one of those that struck me the most was “Patria” by Fernando Aramburu. An impressive novel set in the deep Basque Country. It runs throughout the post-Franco years until the definitive cessation of ETA’s armed activity in 2011. It vividly describes the world and experiences of the armed group from all angles, of those who supported them and of those who denounced their actions. The book shows how the use of violence and weapons are never, nor will they ever be, the solution.
5. How would you describe your political/leadership style in three words?
Closeness, empathy and pedagogy.