Spain backs future EU enlargements

Hav­ing only joined the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties in 1986, thir­ty years after the sig­na­ture of the Rome Treaty and ten years after the end of Franco’s dic­ta­tor­ship, Spain’s offi­cial posi­tion has always backed the idea that enlarge­ment is a cen­tral ele­ment of the EU inte­gra­tion process and that fur­ther enlarge­ment towards rel­a­tive­ly new democ­ra­cies in the West­ern Balka­ns and Turkey is a polit­i­cal pri­or­i­ty that will con­tribute to peace and sta­bil­i­ty in Europe. Notwith­stand­ing this, it must also be stressed that, in gen­er­al, enlarge­ment is a top­ic with­out rel­e­vance in the mass media and in domes­tic polit­i­cal debate.11Even in the case of Turkey, there is no sig­nif­i­cant debate about the advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages of Turk­ish mem­ber­ship or of its con­se­quences for Spain. Accord­ing to the 23rd Wave of the Elcano barom­e­ter (March 2010), 44 per­cent of the Spaniards sup­port Turkey’s future mem­ber­ship. See: www.realinstitutoelcano.org (last access: 29 July 2010). Even so, the pro­gramme of the Span­ish EU Pres­i­den­cy was also ambi­tious on this dimen­sion.22See also: Gra­ham Avery: The Expand­ing Euro­pean Union: How to Eval­u­ate the Pol­i­cy? What Prospects for Spain’s Pres­i­den­cy?, ARI 27/2010, Madrid 2010: Elcano Roy­al Insti­tute, avail­able at: www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/elcano/elcano_in/zonas_in/europe/ari27-2010 (last access: 29 July 2010).

Suc­ces­sive Span­ish gov­ern­ments – whether con­ser­v­a­tive or social­ist – have backed Turkey’s entry to the EU for a num­ber of dif­fer­ent rea­sons which have to do with the EU’s gen­er­al polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and secu­ri­ty inter­ests, while not con­sid­er­ing ques­tions of cul­tur­al or reli­gious iden­ti­ty to be cen­tral to the issue. Prime Min­is­ter Rodriguez Zap­a­tero told his Turk­ish coun­ter­part, Recept Tayyip Erdo­gan, dur­ing a sum­mit held in Madrid last Feb­ru­ary that he want­ed to open as many EU acces­sion chap­ters as pos­si­ble and boost Ankara’s bid to join the EU. How­ev­er, despite Span­ish diplo­mat­ic efforts, the expec­ta­tions of open­ing up at least four nego­ti­a­tion chap­ters with Turkey came nowhere near being ful­filled – main­ly because of Turkey’s delays in car­ry­ing out reforms. It was final­ly accept­ed that  only one tech­ni­cal chap­ter could be opened dur­ing the semes­ter, although Turkey is expect­ed to open one or two addi­tion­al chap­ters dur­ing the remain­ing pres­i­den­cies of the Trio team: Bel­gium and Hungary.

Con­cern­ing Croa­t­ia, in con­trast with the lim­it­ed progress made in its mem­ber­ship nego­ti­a­tions in 2009, two nego­ti­a­tion chap­ters were suc­cess­ful­ly con­clud­ed in 2010. The Span­ish gov­ern­ment sup­ports the near con­clu­sion of all nego­ti­a­tions con­sid­er­ing that Croatia’s future mem­ber­ship will be a deci­sive fac­tor of sta­bil­i­ty for the Balkan region. Spain has a polit­i­cal com­mit­ment towards the entire West­ern Balka­ns – in par­tic­u­lar towards Ser­bia because of a pecu­liar com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors – and backs the idea that their future should only be with­in the EU. Dur­ing its Pres­i­den­cy, Spain organ­ised a suc­cess­ful and prag­mat­ic meet­ing in Sara­je­vo in which it was able to bring togeth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Ser­bia and Koso­vo, despite being one of the five EU mem­ber states that obsti­nate­ly rejects recog­nis­ing the new inde­pen­dent state.

Final­ly, in the acces­sion nego­ti­a­tions with Ice­land – expect­ed to start in autumn 2010 – Spain is will­ing to par­tic­i­pate active­ly in the prepa­ra­tions of com­mon posi­tions relat­ed to the first nego­ti­a­tion chap­ters. One of the most impor­tant top­ics for both Ice­land and the EU  will be the nego­ti­a­tions on the fish­ing chap­ter, a very sen­si­tive issue for Span­ish eco­nom­ic inter­ests. The Sec­re­tary of State for the Euro­pean Union, Diego López Gar­ri­do, expressed that “Spain is in favour of enlarge­ment” although “the pos­i­tive answer to the request of Ice­land can not be detri­men­tal to the requests of oth­er coun­tries to do the same, espe­cial­ly those coun­tries that are in the area of the West­ern Balka­ns”.33More infor­ma­tion is avail­able at: www.maec.es (last access: 29 July 2010). Lopez Gar­ri­do admit­ted “that the nego­ti­a­tion process (with Ice­land) will go rel­a­tive­ly quick­ly”. It must be remem­bered that Ice­land “meets most of the acquis com­mu­nau­taire and is part of the EEA and the Schen­gen zone”. How­ev­er, the results of Iceland’s ref­er­en­dum held last March 2010, in which 93.5 per­cent of vot­ers vot­ed “No” to the plans to reim­burse the Nether­lands and the UK for monies lost fol­low­ing the col­lapse of online bank Ice­save, could under­mine the country’s appli­ca­tion to join the Euro­pean Union.

Another missed opportunity to reinvigorate EU-Mediterranean relations

The boost of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy, both to the east and in the Mediter­ranean area, was also con­sid­ered a pri­or­i­ty of the Span­ish Pres­i­den­cy in the first semes­ter of 2010. How­ev­er, Spain has no strate­gic inter­ests in the East­ern Euro­pean vicin­i­ty, as its near­est geopo­lit­i­cal area of inter­est is the Mediter­ranean – the sec­ond nation­al for­eign pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ty after Latin America.

Span­ish aca­d­e­m­ic experts believe that the East­ern Part­ner­ship (EaP) does not con­sti­tute a direct threat to Span­ish inter­ests in the Mediter­ranean region. How­ev­er, it is true that the EaP com­petes with Mediter­ranean ini­tia­tives. In this con­text, Spain is try­ing to guar­an­tee that the EaP does not sub­strate eco­nom­ic resources from the Union for the Mediter­ranean (UfM) project and will not inter­fere in the rap­proche­ment between the EU and Rus­sia.44Deniz Devrim/Evelina Schulz: The East­ern Part­ner­ship: An Inter­im Step Towards Enlarge­ment?, ARI 22/2009 — 10/2/2009, avail­able at: www.realinstitutoelcano.org (last access: 29 July 2010) and Alvaro Gar­cía Navar­ro: The East­ern Part­ner­ship and the Region­al Dynam­ics with­in The EU; What con­se­quences for Spain?, avail­able at: www.falternativas.org (last access: 29 July 2010). Nev­er­the­less, Miguel Angel Morati­nos, in his role as Span­ish For­eign Min­is­ter dur­ing the Span­ish Pres­i­den­cy, stressed the impor­tance of the EU pol­i­cy of strength­en­ing rela­tions with both East­ern Europe and the South­ern Cau­ca­sus regions, empha­sis­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of them not as “san­i­tary belts”, but rather as areas of coop­er­a­tion and inter­ac­tion with the Euro­pean Union.

Regard­ing the UfM, estab­lished at French insti­ga­tion in July 2008, the Span­ish ini­tial reac­tion to the ini­tia­tive was not enthu­si­as­tic at all. Spain’s main con­cern was that the ini­tia­tive could dam­age the Barcelona Process launched in 1995. After these ini­tial hes­i­ta­tions, Spain has backed this project as a way to rein­vig­o­rate EU-Mediter­ranean coop­er­a­tion. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, dur­ing Span­ish pres­i­den­cies, the south­ern Mediter­ranean has been giv­en spe­cial atten­tion, and Spain has sought to impulse Euro­pean action in this area. How­ev­er, this time, the esca­la­tion of the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict has cre­at­ed great dif­fi­cul­ties for the Span­ish Pres­i­den­cy of the EU. Despite this neg­a­tive envi­ron­ment, Jor­dan­ian Ahmed Kha­laf Masad was appoint­ed as the Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al of the UfM, and the statutes of the Sec­re­tari­at, which will be based in Barcelona, were final­ly approved. Nev­er­the­less, the first warn­ing over the dif­fi­cul­ties to adopt any kind of agree­ment could be seen in April, with the fail­ure of the adop­tion of a water-man­age­ment strat­e­gy, it had to be dropped after a dis­pute over ref­er­ences to the Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries occu­pied by Israel.55More infor­ma­tion regard­ing the water strat­e­gy is avail­able at: http://www.eu2010.es/en/documentosynoticias/noticias/abr13wass.html (last access: 29 July 2010); http://www.ufm-water.net/themes (last access: 29 July 2010); http://www.enpi-info.eu/mainmed.php?id=21257&id_type=1 (last access: 29 July 2010).

Spain had includ­ed the cel­e­bra­tion of the sec­ond Heads of State Euromediter­ranean Sum­mit in its pres­i­den­cy pro­gramme with the aim to address the main top­ics on the glob­al agen­da (eco­nom­ic cri­sis, cli­mate change, ener­gy, food secu­ri­ty, etc.) from the Mediter­ranean stand­point. Regard­less of the intense diplo­mat­ic work, Spain had to post­pone the sum­mit that was sched­uled to take place in Barcelona on 7 June 2010. The post­pone­ment was agreed by Spain and co-chair nations France and Egypt. The Span­ish gov­ern­ment said the move was intend­ed to give more time for indi­rect nego­ti­a­tions between Israel and the Pales­tini­ans, which began on 19 May 2010 after more than a year.66See: http://www.eu2010.es/en/documentosynoticias/noticias/may23_moratinosupm.html (last access: 29 July 2010).

It must be not­ed that the prepa­ra­tions for the sum­mit had been over­shad­owed by a threat by some Arab gov­ern­ments to abstain if Israel’s For­eign Min­is­ter was to attend. Spain did not want to cel­e­brate a Mediter­ranean sum­mit with­out the atten­dance of the main Mediter­ranean lead­ers. The sum­mit has now been ten­ta­tive­ly sched­uled for the third week in Novem­ber 2010 with the aim to coin­cide with the 15th anniver­sary of the 1995 Barcelona Sum­mit. The post­pone­ment pro­duced dis­ap­point­ment and was received by the mass media as a new diplo­mat­ic set­back for Spain’s EU Pres­i­den­cy, since an EU‑U.S. sum­mit that was to have been held in May in Madrid was also called off months ago when Wash­ing­ton announced that Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma would not attend. Besides the frus­tra­tion of see­ing the can­cel­la­tion of the two main sum­mits, the meet­ing held in Grana­da with Moroc­co can­not be con­sid­ered a suc­cess either, if one judges it by the weight of the issues that were dealt with.77See also Kristi­na Kausch: Morocco’s ‘Advanced Sta­tus’: Mod­el or Mud­dle?, FRIDE Pol­i­cy Brief 43. Madrid 2010: FRIDE, avail­able at: www.fride.org/publicacion/745/el-estatuto-avanzado-de-marruecos:-¿que-significado-tiene? (last access: 29 July 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Even in the case of Turkey, there is no sig­nif­i­cant debate about the advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages of Turk­ish mem­ber­ship or of its con­se­quences for Spain. Accord­ing to the 23rd Wave of the Elcano barom­e­ter (March 2010), 44 per­cent of the Spaniards sup­port Turkey’s future mem­ber­ship. See: www.realinstitutoelcano.org (last access: 29 July 2010).
  • 2See also: Gra­ham Avery: The Expand­ing Euro­pean Union: How to Eval­u­ate the Pol­i­cy? What Prospects for Spain’s Pres­i­den­cy?, ARI 27/2010, Madrid 2010: Elcano Roy­al Insti­tute, avail­able at: www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/elcano/elcano_in/zonas_in/europe/ari27-2010 (last access: 29 July 2010).
  • 3More infor­ma­tion is avail­able at: www.maec.es (last access: 29 July 2010).
  • 4Deniz Devrim/Evelina Schulz: The East­ern Part­ner­ship: An Inter­im Step Towards Enlarge­ment?, ARI 22/2009 — 10/2/2009, avail­able at: www.realinstitutoelcano.org (last access: 29 July 2010) and Alvaro Gar­cía Navar­ro: The East­ern Part­ner­ship and the Region­al Dynam­ics with­in The EU; What con­se­quences for Spain?, avail­able at: www.falternativas.org (last access: 29 July 2010).
  • 5More infor­ma­tion regard­ing the water strat­e­gy is avail­able at: http://www.eu2010.es/en/documentosynoticias/noticias/abr13wass.html (last access: 29 July 2010); http://www.ufm-water.net/themes (last access: 29 July 2010); http://www.enpi-info.eu/mainmed.php?id=21257&id_type=1 (last access: 29 July 2010).
  • 6See: http://www.eu2010.es/en/documentosynoticias/noticias/may23_moratinosupm.html (last access: 29 July 2010).
  • 7See also Kristi­na Kausch: Morocco’s ‘Advanced Sta­tus’: Mod­el or Mud­dle?, FRIDE Pol­i­cy Brief 43. Madrid 2010: FRIDE, avail­able at: www.fride.org/publicacion/745/el-estatuto-avanzado-de-marruecos:-¿que-significado-tiene? (last access: 29 July 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.