Spain’s New External Action Strategy

Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs since Sanchez’s second government in 2020, has an ambitious program to define his country’s foreign policy. Economist, expert in international relations – she headed the International Trade Center (ITC) in Geneva for fifteen years – the head of Spanish diplomacy does not endorse the follow-up.

Arancha González Laya, Spanish Minister for Foreign, European Affairs and Cooperation

Upon coming to power in June 2018 thanks to a motion of censure against Rajoy’s government, Pedro Sanchez, a social democrat, was affirmed in office through general elections in November 2019. When his second government was formed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European and Foreign Affairs was appointed. Affairs of cooperation was entrusted to Arancha González Laya, who succeeded Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Common Security Policy.

The new minister, without a political naming, has a good résumé. Polyglot, who holds a master’s degree in European law, is a lawyer, held senior positions in the Brussels Commission in the international trade sector with Pascal Lamy who was then appointed her office manager when she was appointed head of the World Trade Organization.

Reposition Spain in Europe and the World

Once in office, Mrs. Gonzalez Laya set out to define a strategy for external action for the period 2021-2024, with the aim of “reestablishing Spain in the European Union and in the world”. Cet exercice, fruit d’une large consultation avec les institutions, les communautés autonomes, le monde économique, la société civile et les instituts de recherche a débouché sur un épais document qui a été validé le 26 janvier 2021 par le gouvernement et transmis au Parlement To be approved.

This article analyzes the European component of this project.

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In European matters, seen as an “extension of domestic politics,” Spain wants to be offensive, like the Minister for External Relations who, upon taking office in January 2020, sent an unambiguous message: “To a time when it is shrinking.” Europe With the exit of the United Kingdom, and in the face of French and German procrastination, we must be able to forge alliances with other partners in order to move forward within the framework of the joint venture. ” She will add that the time has come to put an end to the “European capacity” of the past decades and to move to realpolitik.

Freely rethink bilateral alliances

In the minister’s view, this presupposes the abandonment of the traditional “following” with regard to the Franco-German axis. Spain has been in the heavy shade of this pair for a long time, much to the annoyance of the Spanish press and, without a doubt, Moncloa. In the provisional version of the text preserved by El País, the Franco-German axis was also seen as tending to convert itself more and more into a “German-German” axis.

The final version of the Strategic Action Plan is more refined: Spain will side with Berlin and Paris to take measures aimed at supporting European integration, but at the same time it will practice a policy of bilateral alliances with a shifting geometry. Depending on the topics. This could happen, for example, through cooperation with Italy on immigration, or with the Visegrad Block countries in terms of financing and structural cohesion, which is a vital resource for Spain. In addition, the role of bilateral summits that Spain has established with Portugal, France, Italy, Germany and Poland should be “revitalized”. This shape can extend to Romania.

This new trend was quickly put into practice. Spain, which is opposed to silent economic competition for Italy for third place on the European podium, is now seeking to strengthen its relations with the country.

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Development of majority voting to make the union more active

More surprisingly, the warmth in relations with the Netherlands, which has not yet been very friendly towards Spain and the “Club Med” countries, resulted in a joint proposal last March by Pedro Sanchez and Marc Rutte on strengthening the strategic autonomy of the European Union after the pandemic.

It should be noted that among the 13 points in the text, the broad range of subjects appears in which society’s decisions are taken by a qualified majority “wherever possible and desirable” in order to limit “areas in which consensus impedes the ability to act. European Union action”. If this is the case in tax matters, which the Dutch are extremely cautious about, then there will be an unprecedented victory for “new” Spanish diplomacy.

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