Repercussions of ‘Georgia’

Spain
Elcano Royal Institute
 
The military conflict in Georgia during the last summer was mainly perceived in Spain as a clumsy, an even illegitimate, move of Georgia to try to recover control of the region of South Ossetia. Russian reaction against this reintegration was also perceived as disproportionate and therefore criticised but, at the end of the day, it is clear that Russia has been able to take a great advantage of the crisis vis-à-vis the Union and, specifically Spain. First of all, Moscow has preserved its influence in the Caucasus, reinforcing the pro-Russian and separatist regions in the area. Secondly, Russia has been successful in its opposition to a fast further enlargement of NATO (and, implicitly, the EU in the mid- or long-term) towards Ukraine or the Caucasus, as some Western European countries – including Spain – tend now to see the perils of the entry of any Russian neighbour into the Western organisations rather than its advantages in terms of democratic and economic stability expansion eastwards.[1] Finally, Moscow was able to reinforce its weak political, economic (energy, finance and tourism), cultural and security ties with Madrid during the autumn and the winter. For March 2009 an important visit of the Russian President Dimitri Medvedev to Spain was programmed.[2]
 

The French Presidency

Spain
Elcano Royal Institute
 
The French Presidency of the EU 2008 – and the specific personal performance and engagement of the President Nicolas Sarkozy during the semester – has deserved quite contradictory evaluations among the different member states: very critical in some countries (because of some authoritarianism and the little time devoted to consensus building) and very positive in others, such as Spain.[1] The Spaniards liked the idea of the President Sarkozy to try to demonstrate EU’s ability to actively face and manage global challenges for getting a stronger Europe who knows how to be a leader in the world. Some of the French priorities fitted well with Spanish main concerns in the EU; namely, the energy, the environment and the climate change, the adoption of the Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the review of the CAP, the reinforcement of the European Defence and Security Policy and the launching of the Union for Mediterranean.
 

Spanish priorities for a re-definition or re-vitalisation of transatlantic relations

Spain
Elcano Royal Institute
 
According to the Spanish preponderant view, the three top priorities for a re-definition or re-vitalisation of the transatlantic and EU-US relationship would be:
 
a)       An effective and co-ordinated management of the global financial crisis.
b)       New approach to security and peace-building complementing military action with soft power tools in order to deal with new conflicts and their causes. In this context, Spain believes that the ‘Alliance of Civilizations’, proposed to the UN by Prime Minister Zapatero in 2005, could be a relevant instrument to defeat violence.
c)       A new US approach to efficient multilateralism beyond security affairs, especially with respect to the fight against climate change, the international law and cooperation in the fields of education, research and development.
 

The future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’

Spain
Elcano Royal Institute

The debate in Spain about the conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty was quite predictable. After the summit, the Spanish government defended domestically the solution that had been agreed with Ireland – basically, to keep one Commissioner per member state and to clarify formal guarantees about Irish neutrality, corporate taxation and family law –, on the grounds that this allows Dublin to call for a second referendum before October 31 2009 and, therefore, to complete the ratification process. The socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, admitted in the Spanish Parliament that he preferred a smaller and “genuinely supranational” Commission but, realistically, some deal with Ireland was needed. On the other hand, he stressed that the compromise reached among the 27 member states also included a very important provision for Spain; specifically, that the delay in the process of ratification would not impede the increase in the number of Spanish MEPs according to the Lisbon Treaty. Thus, although Spanish electors will elect only 50 representatives to the European Parliament in the forthcoming June 2009 elections – as regulated in the Nice Treaty – four additional seats will be conferred to Spain once the Reform Treaty comes into force.[1]