He warned that “economic weaknesses”, a “turbulent political climate” and a change of ministers do not help Spain.
Madrid, 9 (Europa Press)
The year 2022 will certainly not bring significant progress in Spain’s bilateral relations with the United States, according to experts at the Elcano Royal Institute, who warn of the risk of confrontation between Algeria and Morocco and a whole range of “vulnerabilities”. They affect. Do they not help the government in its foreign action.
In their report ‘Spain in the World in 2022: Perspectives and Challenges’, the lead researchers of the Spanish think-tank review, among others, the iconic aspects of Spain, security challenges or relations with other countries.
In the context of the current uncertainty, “Spanish foreign policy may benefit from various strengths and potential opportunities, but it will also be conditioned by weaknesses of a political, economic and managerial nature,” they underline.
The government has expressed its “willingness to promote more ambitious foreign action in the medium term”, but the “short-term conditions have proved unfavorable to demonstrate leadership, anticipation and projection” expressed in the foreign action strategy announced last April.
According to the researchers at Elcano, the pandemic has once again shown “significant economic vulnerabilities in the country such as insufficient industrial and innovation capacity, a great deal of dependence on tourism and financial problems with only European funds temporarily postponed.” Is.”
Political climate and change of minister
“The turbulent internal political climate is another factor that prevents foreign policy and better use of existing opportunities in the EU,” they said, pointing to, among other things, the situation in Catalonia and “strong polarization on almost all domestic issues”. it is said. ,
They also highlight the “discontent” in the Ministry of External Affairs, through which five have been in the limelight since 2016, with the resulting “change of stage”. “Each of these relays has been accompanied by a corresponding proposal to renew plans, organization charts and tools, without giving much time for the new thrust to bear fruit,” he laments.
In the case of the new minister, José Manuel Albers, “he begins with the advantage of a close relationship with the prime minister, of whom he has been his chief international advisor for years, both in the party and later in Moncloa”, as well. In addition to learning from “The Contents of the Portfolio of Being a Career Diplomat.”
“Looking beyond 2022, Spain’s normalcy on the international and European landscape will be marked by the speed with which the economy recovers and the implementation of green and digital sector reforms earmarked for the next generation of EU funds. Ability”. From ‘Think Tank’
“From a more political point of view, the aim is to establish a dynamism of certainty and stability that extends to operational management as well,” emphasize the experts, who stress that, among other things, the future of the coming months. will be on the agenda. Madrid NATO Summit.
Relations with the European Union and the US
At the European level, one year to be implemented during the presidency of “to define priorities and guidelines for the timely implementation and conduct of reforms and investments agreed with the Commission in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan for 2022 Spain”. Is. It is the EU’s turn that it will hold in the second half of 2023.
Regarding the issue, they regret the “setback” of the EU Secretary of State Juan González-Barba’s departure in late December, highlighting that “in just six years” six people have captured taken as “A post whose average term in the first three decades of membership has been about five years.”
Issues that are being debated and of particular interest to Spain include changes to the permanent status of the European recovery instrument, as well as reform of fiscal regulations, although Elcano experts doubt this last case. Resilience and development of the stability pact, which the government defends, before the end of 2022, as the pact expires next year.
As far as the United States is concerned, Joe Biden’s arrival means a change in transatlantic relations, but also “the end of an era” as Washington’s interest level in Europe “decline”.
At the bilateral level, the report acknowledges that relations have been “without friction” over the past year, citing “disputes over the brief meeting at the NATO summit” between Sanchez and Biden.
Experts say the new US ambassador to Madrid, Julissa Reynoso, will arrive soon and that “a summit between Washington and Madrid is not expected before the NATO summit.” “Everything indicates, therefore, that the Spain-US agenda will continue exclusively through the transatlantic channels (Brussels-Washington), which reduces Spain’s potential,” he says.
Russia, Latin America and the Maghreb
With regard to Russia, they emphasize that the Spanish position has been “traditionally influenced by geographical remoteness and low-intensity economic relations.” “Spain does not have a specific foreign policy towards Russia, but develops it within the framework of the European Union and NATO”, they highlight in another article.
Russia’s challenges to the EU are also those for Spain, they are part of the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood Policy (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), citing “energy dependence”, among those countries Brussels and Ukraine. Moscow, and the absence of a European security and defense structure.”
In this context, Spain could play a “dual role”, a “dual role” within NATO by contributing “in monitoring the airspace of the Baltic countries” on the one hand and “to strengthen European unity in its relations” on the other. can perform. Russia. “, which includes “strengthening the democratic resilience of member states and supporting democratic change in former Soviet states” to avoid Moscow’s influence.
“Spain faces 2022 with renewed challenges in its regional and bilateral relations in Latin America, but also in diplomatic and economic relations (investment and trade),” the expert emphasizes in another article in the report.
On a bilateral level, “the nature of the link depends on the ideological political bias of each country and each government,” with Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba as the most complex countries. On the other hand, they are committed to working with the High Representative and the European External Action Service to attempt to restart relations between the European Union and Latin America.
Finally, he warned that “the risk of escalation between Algeria and Morocco is real” after Algiers broke ties with Rabat in August. “A direct armed confrontation or with the involvement of the Polisario Front” should not be ruled out, which “could set North Africa on fire, destabilizing its Mediterranean and Sahelian neighbourhoods.”
Thus, they consider it urgent to “look for de-escalation routes to avoid more evils”, emphasizing that Spain “needs to reduce tensions and establish channels of dialogue among its southern neighbors”. Must seek.”
“If this route does not produce results and the conflict threatens national interests, the Spanish government should adopt more assertive and firm measures, which will have the greater political and social support they have and demand greater coordination among European countries.” level,” he outlines without explaining what kind of action should be taken.
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