You are in:

Share on Facebook: opens new windowShare on Twitter: opens new window

Foreign Policy

UN General Assembly (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation)

Article 97 of the Spanish Constitution. The Goverment directs domestic and foreign policy, civil and military administration and the defence of the State. It exercises executive and statutory authority in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

​Contents

The traditional cornerstones of Spanish foreign policy

The world has seen dramatic changes since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and there has been one key development that has transformed international relations: globalization. This phenomenon has turned the planet into a more integrated space with new challenges and opportunities. The rise of the BRICS, the shift in geostrategic importance from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and the advent of information and knowledge technologies have changed international relations and, with it, introduced the need to rethink foreign policy.

The situation has been magnified by the profound changes that have taken place in Spain. Membership of the European Union, the construction of a decentralized State, heavy migration flows into the country, Islamic terrorism and a long period of economic growth paralysed by crisis has also required a rethinking of this policy from an internal perspective, since the distinction between foreign policy and issues that were previously purely domestic is blurring rapidly.

Since the transition to democracy in the 1970s, Spain has consistently followed a set of basic guidelines in foreign policy.

Spain and the European Union

The first mainstay that has played a pivotal role in Spain's foreign policy since the transition is its commitment to Europe and membership of the EU. The European Communities started out in the 1950s without Spain, which was excluded during this early period because of its political regime at the time. With the transition to democracy, Spain began to forge a closer relationship with Europe, which culminated with its entry in 1986. 

Exhibition '1986-2014. Spain in Europe' (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation)The latest reform to the treaties was carried out with the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007, which came into force in 2009. Among other achievement, the treaty created the office of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, which has been held since 2014 by Federica Mogherini, a European External Action Service (SEAE) - a genuine European diplomatic service to support the High Representative of the EU - and finally, it provided the EU with its own legal personality and capacity to reach agreements with other States and international organisations.

The EEAS, which was set up in July 2010, now has 3,400 employees and 141 delegations in third countries. Spain contributes actively to the development of the EEAS by promoting the incorporation of Spanish officials at both the EEAS headquarters in Brussels and in the different EU delegations abroad.

Spain and Ibero-America

Latin America is one of the fields of action par excellence for Spain due largely to the strong ties between the two.

The Ibero-American Conference of Nations was the political embodiment of this community. It was created in 1991 on the initiative of Mexico and Spain and includes all the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Americas and Europe. The final declaration of its first summit (held in Guadalajara, Mexico) enshrines the political recognition of the existence of a community. To this end, at the Cádiz Summit held in 2012, a commission was appointed, chaired by former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, which proposed a series of lines of reform, some of which were approved at the Panamá summit and the rest are set to be approved at the summit organized by Mexico in Veracruz in December 2014. The reform elements include the biennial nature of the summits, which will alternate with the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean Summit (EU-LAC), giving greater space to informal talks between presidents, strengthening the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) in the areas of cooperation, the path towards integration of the five Latin American agencies (SEGIB, OEI, OISS, OIJ and COMJIB) under the aegis of the SEGIB, and the redistribution of the budget of the Ibero-American General Secretariat to modify the current proportions (the Iberian Peninsula covers 70%, and Latin America, 30%), increasing the Latin American part by 10% (60% for Spain and Portugal and 40% for Latin America).

In November 2012, Spain also became the first European country to obtain observer status in the Pacific Alliance (formed by Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico). Since then, Spain has been seeking ways of active collaboration with the alliance. The Spanish President attended the recent summit of the organization held in Cali (Colombia) in May 2013.

Spain's relations with the region are reflected in the recent visits to Spain of a number of Latin American heads of state: the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa (April 2014); the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto (June 2014); the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet (October 2014); the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos (March 2015); the President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes (June 2015); and the President of Peru, Ollanta Humala (July 2015). For his part, the Spanish President of the Government has taken part in the Latin American Summits in Panama (2013) and Veracruz (2014), as well as the EU-CELAC summits in Santiago de Chile (2013) and Brussels (2015). He has also made official visits to Peru and Chile (January 2013), Panama (June 2014) and Guatemala (March 2015). These visits served as the occasion for signing renewed strategic partnership agreements with Chile and Peru; the agreement with Brazil was also renewed through a Declaration by the two heads of government. In addition, treaties were signed related to talent mobility programmes and the shared use of diplomatic facilities.​

24th Ibero-American Summit (Ministry of the Presidency)Spain fosters integration and multilateralism as the optimum way of addressing the new international context. Hence, it supports the various economic, political and trade integration processes such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), and observes with interest the new boosts to integration taking place in the region, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Strengthening relations between the EU and Latin America continues to be a priority for Spain. Our country is working to consolidate the major progress that has been made in relations between the EU and Latin America, and to advance the work under way in the area of international agreements. The second EU-CELAC summit has made significant progress in bi-regional relations, which require constant renewal. The foundations have been laid to boost political dialogue, economic ties have continued to be extended and modernised, while new tools for cooperation have been created. Among the specific achievements of the meeting are the initialling of visa exemption agreements with Peru and Colombia and the announcement of the creation of a trust fund to support the post-conflict situation in Colombia.

Spain and the Maghreb

Region in North Africa made up of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the Maghreb has been the focus of priority attention for Spanish foreign policy. Factors such as geographic proximity, historic ties and the intensity of human, economic and cultural exchanges have benefitted and helped boost relations with our southern neighbours.

Since the start of 2011, the Maghreb has been the scene of far-reaching transformations. The discontent of a largely young population suffering precarious socio-economic conditions led to cries for greater political openness, which have resulted in processes of change, transition and reform.

Tunisia was the pioneer of this evolution and is currently a model of the 'Arab Spring', both as a result of the degree of consensus between the different political players, leading to the new Constitution enacted in January 2014, and in the lack of violence affecting the transition process. This process began back in January 2011 with the fall of President Ben Ali after 23 years of rule and culminated in legislative and presidential elections in 2014.

The transition in Libya, which began with the revolution of 17 February 2011 and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in October of the same year, remains turbulent. The country is currently undergoing serious problems in terms of governability and security. Spain supports the efforts at mediation by the United Nations in the conflict and organised the "Stability and Development in Libya" Conference in Madrid in September 2014, which was attended by 21 countries and delegations.

In turn, Morocco and Algeria, in different ways and to different extents, have undertaken a reformist path since the spring of 2011. King Mohammed VI opened a political reform process and in 2011 the constitutional reform, which had a clearly open vocation, was widely supported in the referendum on 1 July. In the legislative elections in November of that year, the moderate Pro-Islamist party 'Justice and Development' obtained a majority for the first time ever and formed a coalition government with participation from Istiqlal - replaced in September 2013 by the RNI as its main partner - the People's Movement and the PPS. In April 2011, Algeria started a political reform programme, including new electoral legislation. Following the presidential elections in April 2014, the internal political debate has been focused on the reform of the Constitution.

In the case of Mauritania, within a general framework of stability, President Abdelaziz started his second term of office following the presidential elections held in June 2014.

Conference on stability and development in Libya (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation)As regards the Western Sahara, Spain supports a political, fair, lasting and mutually-acceptable solution that establishes the free determination of the Sahrawi people within the framework of the principles and goals of the UN Charter. Spain supports the central role of the United Nations in the search for a solution and maintains its humanitarian commitment to the people of the Western Sahara; it is also the leading bilateral donor of aid to refugee camps there.

The extent of relations between Spain and the Maghreb has been consolidated over time since the signing of the Friendship, Co-operation and Good-Neighbourliness Treaties with Morocco (1991), Tunisia (1995) and Algeria (2002). It maintains intense political dialogue with these countries, together with Libya. The periodic holding of high-level meetings accompanies the development of bilateral relations. Furthermore, there are frequent trips by ministers and senior officials to examine issues of bilateral interest and on the international agenda.

From an economic perspective, Spain maintains intense ties with the Maghreb. Trade and investment relations are particularly important both in Morocco (leading African and Arabic destination for Spanish exports) and in Algeria (with a trade volume in 2013 of 15.42 billion dollars). Spain is the leading trading partner for both countries.

Moreover, the Maghreb is one of our main energy suppliers. We import approximately 45% of gas and 14% of petrol from this region, which has traditionally affected our trade balance.

Security in the region constitutes a shared concern for Spain and for the Maghreb countries. Organised crime, illegal trafficking and active international terrorism in the Sahel represent a direct threat for the whole of the Mediterranean. For this reason, the Spanish authorities are working with their counterparts in the Maghreb, to identify and prevent risks and cooperate at a police and judicial level with the aim of avoiding impunity.

Furthermore, the need to manage migratory flows has led to the signing of agreements with countries in the Maghreb, the destination and point of transit for many immigrants that wish to reach Europe. Spain supports the new migratory policies of the countries in the region, such as Morocco, on this issue.

The endeavours at reaching understanding between Spain and the Maghreb cannot be achieved without a cultural element. Overarching relations in any area are more effective when mutual awareness is greater. In this regard, the nine Cervantes Institutes in the region, six of which are in Morocco, and the activities organised by the Arab House in Madrid and Cordoba, and the Mediterranean House in Alicante and Benidorm help facilitate understanding and trust.

Our country plays an essential role in the Euro-Mediterranean space, and has decisively contributed to the incorporation of Maghreb issues on the EU's agenda. Increased relations with this region have been greatly boosted by the signing of Association Agreements between the EU and Tunisia (1995), Algeria (2002) and Morocco (1996). The last of these is the most developed southern neighbourhood country within the framework of the new European Neighbourhood Policy, as evidenced by the signing of its Advanced Status in 2008 and an EU-Morocco Action Plan 2013-2017. Furthermore, during the Spanish Rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the first half of 2010, an EU-Morocco Summit took place in Granada, the only one to have been held to date. Moreover, Morocco is the main recipient of assistance in terms of neighbourhood aid and is a participant in the negotiation of new agreements on migratory, fishery and trade issues.

Over the last years, regional co-operation processes, such as the Union for the Mediterranean and the 5+5 Dialogue, have helped foster political consultations and sector co-operation between the two shores of the Mediterranean.

Spain has finally managed to develop joint initiatives with Algeria (on water issues under the 5+5 Initiative) and with Morocco (on mediation at a United Nations level)

High-Level Meetings

Spain holds Bilateral Summits with its main European partners as a result of certain particularly strong relations with these countries and to make progress on dialogue regarding shared interests. These are an essential complementary element to the numerous meetings held within the framework of the European Union and of the bilateral visits of the different ministerial departments.

Headed up by the respective Heads of State or Government, sector meetings are held between ministerial departments according to the bilateral agenda.

Progress has been made in foreign affairs meetings on seeking consensus with the main players in the European Union to further develop the Economic and Monetary Union, as well as on the most pressing and important issues on the international agenda, such as the situation of the countries in North Africa, the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Middle East peace process and the crisis in Syria.

In 2015, summit meetings were held with Portugal (Bayonne, 22 June), Poland (Madrid, 16 July) and Germany (Berlin, 31 July). Other forums in which civil society or governments have taken part were the Spain-Italy Forum in Barcelona (8-9 April), the Spain-Britain conference in Cambridge (11-13 September) and the 8th Spain-Germany forum under the presidency of the Spanish King and the German Federal President (18 November).

The following summits were held in 2014:

  • 18th Summit with Italy, held on 27 January in Rome. The Prime Ministers of the two countries met with the aim of seeking specific solutions to European challenges, particularly to economic recovery and job creation, and to re-launch the European integration process during the Italian Rotating Presidency of the EU. The main debates focused on mobilising European funds, of which 6 billion euros would be made available to countries through the European Youth Employment Initiative and on migratory issues.
  • 27th Summit with Portugal, held on 4 June in Vidago. The President of the Government of Spain and the Prime Minister of Portugal prioritised shared economic issues and cross-border co-operation. The intention to cooperate on improving job markets and labour force policies were consolidated, and a commitment to mobilise partners at a local, regional, national and European level was reached, harnessing the various sources of financing available, particularly the new Multiannual Financial Framework, to reduce unemployment and labour segmentation. As regards cross-border co-operation, the Heads of Government underlined the need to conclude the revision of the Additional Protocol on the matter of the fight against forest fires, with the aim of increasing interventions to other protection and rescue operations. In turn, they reiterated the importance of guaranteeing quality and the capacity of communications and energy connections in border regions, placing special emphasis on those municipalities that generally lack mobile broadband reception and the scheduled implementation of the European standard gauge for railway lines.
  • 10th Summit with Poland, held on 23 June in Gdansk. The main issues discussed at the summit included economic collaboration, energy security and social issues. Moreover, consultations took place between representative from the Ministries of Employment, Public Works, Defence and Industry. This led to the signing of two papers: a shared collaboration declaration for the employment and social sector, and a letter of intent, which sought to step up collaboration in the defence sector. Finally, they agreed to tackle the issue of energy on a joint basis to seek solutions to the lack of integration in the EU's energy market.
  • In August 2014, a series of work meetings were held between President of the Government Rajoy and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Santiago de Compostela, with a view to taking steps in specific areas of potential co-operation. It should be remembered that during the course of 2014, a MOU was signed between the Ministries of Employment, dating back to 2013, which shortly afterwards led to a Co-operation Agreement between Public Employment Services, and work was done to consolidate mobility programmes for young Europeans.
  • 24th Summit with France, held on 1 December in Paris. The agenda of Mariano Rajoy and François Hollande led to an agreement to reach the quota of 10% of energy interconnections between France and Spain by 2020, thus enabling our country to leave behind its situation as an "energy island". The agenda also tackled economic issues, setting common perspectives on growth and employment policies for Europe. Furthermore, the main broad strokes were established to catalyse the investment policy provided for in the Juncker Plan to help re-launch the EU economy with 300 billion euros over the coming years.

Spain and the United States

The bilateral agenda has been clearly strengthened in recent time and defined the transatlantic axis as the second major line of foreign policy.

The global presence of the United States (US) and its central economic role make transatlantic relations among the most important, both for Spain and for the EU. That can be clearly evidenced through the number of visits made. Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain travelled to New York in September 2014 to take part in the United Nations Ministerial Week and His Majesty the King took the opportunity to meet with President Obama. The President of the Government travelled to Washington on 13 January 2014, where he met with President Obama in the White House and with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and with the US Chamber of Commerce. On the occasion of the 19th Spain-United States Forum in Malaga, inaugurated by Their Majesties the King and Queen, a delegation from Congress (House of Representatives and the Senate) visited Spain. On 10 September 2014, the Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, met with the Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, in Washington. On 15 September, the Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz, visited Washington, where he met with the Attorney General, Eric Holder, the Director of the FBI, James Comey, and the Director of the CIA, John O. Brennan. On 17 October, the Minister for Defence, Pedro Morenés, met with the Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, in Washington.

Visit to the United States (Ministry of the Presidency)Spain and the US share a particular awareness of the problem of terrorism, having both suffered from particularly bloody attacks. Spain forms part of the international coalition headed up by the US to fight DAESH.

At an economic level, trade exchanges continue to rise. Between January and August 2014, Spain exported goods for a value of 6.76 billion euros and imported goods for a value of 6.9 billion euros, with a coverage rate of 98%.

Spain has become one of the most significant foreign investors in the US. This has been very relevant in appreciating the genuine transformation of our bilateral economic relations. This trade flow is concentrated in such critical and visible sectors as infrastructure, financial services, renewable energies, the iron and steel, and fashion industries, and has helped create thousands of jobs in the US (some 75,000). In the period January-June 2014, the US was the leading destination for Spanish investment, with 2.38 billion euros, well above the 345.91 million posted in 2013.

In terms of US investment in Spain, in the first half of 2014, direct gross investment amounted to 374.27 million euros. The total of US investment stock in Spain amounted to 38.29 billion euros as at 30 December 2012, holding second position behind Italy.

This last year has also been particularly significant for our cultural relations, thus emphasising our close historic ties. The increase in our economic and trade relations have gone hand-in-hand with an extraordinary revitalisation of our cultural relations. Around 60% of students studying a foreign language in the US choose Spanish. In this field, worthy of mention is the inauguration in October 2013 of the Observatory of the Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures at Harvard. . The Cervantes Institute also has office in Albuquerque, Chicago and New York, as well as two Cervantes Classrooms in Boston and Seattle and a Spanish Cultural Centre for Ibero-American Co-operation in Miami.

In 2013, a cycle of commemorations began to celebrate the fifth centenary of the discovery of Florida by Juan Ponce de León and the sighting of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Núñez de Balboa; and the third centenary of the birth of Friar Junípero Serra, the founder of the network of Franciscan missions in California and in the southwest of the US. Furthermore, in December 2014, following approval by both houses of the US Congress, President Obama awarded the Spaniard, Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, honorary citizenship of the United States for his decisive contribution to the independence of the country, an honour only previously bestowed on seven other historic figures. Finally, it should be pointed out that Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the US, with 52 million Spanish speakers (17% of the population), as well as the most widely studied foreign language, both in secondary and higher education.

Other areas of interest

  • The Mediterranean

Spain continues to play a pivotal role in Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. As one of the countries behind the Barcelona Process and in the aftermath of the Marseilles Conference, Spain is home to the headquarters for the Secretary General of its successor, the Union for the Mediterranean, located in Barcelona.

The processes of political change taking place in the countries of our southern partners, and the profound process of institutional renewal of the Union for the Mediterranean (northern and southern co-presidencies, continuity of the Secretary-General) have given a new boost to this organisation, which has acquired its own dynamic.

The operation of the general secretariat has been improved, 29 projects have been approved for a total sum of 3.5 billion euros with facilities to access funding and contribute solutions to complex regional projects, and around 100 other projects are awaiting review. The co-presidencies are resolute in their intention to hold ministerial conferences, and this form of meeting has already taken place on such issues as women, transport and energy in 2013, and on industrial co-operation, environmental affairs and climate change, and the digital economy in 2014, as well as 55 high-level and expert meetings. This has all contributed to the drafting of a common Mediterranean agenda, with long-term goals and sectorial lines of action.

All of this has helped the Union for the Mediterranean to consolidate its position as a platform for co-operation and a space for the development of Euro-Mediterranean relations. Its goal of achieving greater economic integration though projects with a maximum positive impact for the people in the region is of great importance at this time.

The consolidation of the Union for the Mediterranean has developed in parallel with other processes of sub-regional co-operation, such as the Western Mediterranean Forum (5+5 Dialogue). This has become consolidated over the last few years as a forum of political agreement and sub-regional co-operation between the Western Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal and Tunisia) and has forged a network of inter-regional connections. The arrival of new governments on the southern shore of the Mediterranean has opened up new possibilities for stepping up this area of co-operation.

  • Near East

Several crises in the Near East have worsened over the course of 2014: the civil conflict in Syria, the offensive by DAESH in Iraq and Syria, the Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip and the stagnation of the Israel-Palestine peace process, and the obstacles to the transition process in Yemen. In all these cases Spain, as far as possible, has sought to contribute to help resolve or at least alleviate the harshest consequences of these conflicts. In the case of Syria, Spain has fostered the work of the Cordoba Group by hosting meetings of the main ethnic minorities; in Iraq, through its participation in the global coalition against DAESH; in the Israel-Palestine conflict, at all times it has encouraged the two parties to take up the path of negotiation as the only way to ensure a just solution, based on co-existence in peace and security and through the prosperity of the two states. Worthy of mention in this regard is the approval on 18 November - by a wide majority of the Lower House of Parliament - of a non-binding resolution on the recognition of Palestine as a state.

In 2014, the government continued to follow the traditional line of stepping up ties with the countries that comprise the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), prioritising the already fluid institutional relations, as clearly evidenced by the trips by His Majesty King Juan Carlos I to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain in April, and to Saudi Arabia in May. We are working with the GCC in a twofold sense: through the EU and its strategic dialogue with the council, and at a bilateral level, which has been stepped up in recent years through extending not only political relations but also economic, trade and cultural relations.

Spain has also shown its full commitment to maintaining peace in the region, in particular in Lebanon, through its participation in the deployment on the ground of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

  • Sub-Saharan Africa

Spain is involved in the resolution of the most severe African crises (those affecting Somalia, Mali, the Cen­tral African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan, Guin­ea-Bissau and the Democratic Republic of Congo) and is committed to peace, stability and development in West Africa in particular. A common agenda has been developed with the subregion of West Africa, which has become a preferential partner in the area due to its geographical proximity.

In economic diplomacy terms, Spain places important emphasis on Africa and has strengthened trade and in­vestment relations with countries such as Senegal, An­gola and South Africa. Within its Sub-Saharan Africa pol­icy, Equatorial Guinea holds a special and significant place because of its historical, cultural and linguistic ties.

  • Asia-Pacific

For the past ten years, Spain has been developing a strategy for adapting foreign policy to this new international stage in which Asia has emerged as the leader. The Government's current objective is threefold: to increase Spain's presence and visibility in Asia; to consolidate the achievements made in recent years to defend and promote Spanish interests, and to seek alternative ways to boost the country's image and activity in the region.

Trade and the economy are key factors in this strategy. Trade relations have intensified in recent years but Spain's trade and investment presence in Asia remains limited. To give it a new boost, Spain will reinforce its diplomatic structure in priority countries and advance in the geographical diversification of its trade and investment efforts in order to extend it to other major economies in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines.

Commemorative book of Spain-Japan Dual Year (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation)There is great interest in our culture, which is strengthened by the economic and trade potential of the language in the Pacific region, where it is one of the main languages. The Cervantes Institute has five centres in Asia: in Manila, New Delhi, Beijing, Sydney and Tokyo; and five Cervantes Classrooms: in Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul (two) and Jakarta. In the Philippines, where the Spanish language had been virtually reduced to a token level, its government decided to re-introduce it into the educational system, a decision supported by Spain through a specific technical and educational co-operation programme for the country. In Singapore, Spanish has just been incorporated as the third language in the education system. At a broader level and in order to create a more accurate and modern image in the main economic and political decision-making centres in the region, the Spain-Japan Dual Year was celebrated in 2013-2014 to commemorate the 4th centenary of relations between Spain and Japan following the Keicho Embassy mission, and an ambitious Peace, Growth and Innovation Alliance was launched for a period of five years until 2018. Similarly, the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and China was celebrated, to which end a series of events was organised to enhance the rapprochement between the two countries. Co-operation with South Korea is constantly improving as is only right for two members of the G-20 of noteworthy economic weight and global projection.

Casa Asia has quickly established itself as a very useful instrument for developing initiatives to strengthen ties between Spain and Asia at a civic level. Other initiatives to foster contact and mutual understanding between civil societies include the Spanish Council Foundations with Japan, China, India and Australia, and the Spain-Philippines Tribune, Spain-India Tribune and the Spain-Tribune.

Relations are also being stepped up with Southeast Asia. In March 2014, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation made a trip to the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, on which he was accompanied by business leaders.

The Pacific is another region in which Spain has an increasing presence. In 2014, Spain became a partner in the Post-Forum Dialogue of the Pacific Islands Forum and it will shortly send a Chargé d'affaires to Fiji, the country hosting the Forum's Secretariat.

  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Under the auspices of the Eastern Neighbourhood Policy of the EU, Spanish foreign policy towards Eastern Europe has taken on growing importance. During the course of 2012-2013, bilateral contact has been stepped up with trips and visits from the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. This mutual interest is clearly reflected through a progressive increase in political, economic and tourism relations with the region, and in a greater presence of Spanish companies and their products in these countries. However, the crisis in Ukraine is affecting this Eastern Partnership Policy of the EU, forcing it to make a greater effort in differentiation, according to the reformist interests of each member State.

As regards the conflict in Ukraine, the European Union and its Member States are committed to a diplomatic and negotiated solution between all the parties involved, which must take into account respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Spain is working with its European partners with great emphasis on international law not being violated, but also on inclusive dialogue that seeks lasting solutions.

Relations with Russia merit special attention for historic and significant reasons. Russia is, moreover, a key partner in seeking solutions for the challenges and crises laid down by international society. Our bilateral relations are based on a complex raft of agreements, conventions and instruments on political and economic issues in line with two countries with such a long diplomatic history. All official contacts show a very great understanding between the respective societies which is reflected by the significant number of Russian tourists that visit Spain (1.25 million Russians visited Spain in 2013).

In turn, Central Asia is also the object of renewed attention. In addition to its strategic location between Russia, China, Iran and India, the importance of these countries should be highlighted in terms of energy and security. Spain has an embassy in Astana and has stepped up trips and visits to the region over the course of 2014.

  • Gibraltar

During the course of 2014, Spain has pursued the defence of its interests and positions in the contentious issue of Gibraltar at various levels: at a bilateral level with the United Kingdom in terms of issues regarding sovereignty and at a regional and multilateral level, both within the framework of the United Nations and the EU.

From the outset of the present term of office, the government has urged the United Kingdom to take up bilateral negotiations again on issues of sovereignty to bring to an end the Gibraltar's colonial status in compliance with the doctrine established in various resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the commitment made by the United Kingdom itself to Spain in 1984 and which is explicitly contained in the Brussels Declaration of that year. The 2014 Resolution on Gibraltar approved by the General Assembly (previously agreed between Spain and the United Kingdom) literally repeats the text of the previous document approved in December 2013, which represents a substantial improvement compared with the resolutions from previous years; the reference to the "aspirations" of Gibraltar is qualified by adding "while they are legitimate pursuant to international law", and note is taken of the "Spanish position that the tripartite forum no longer exists".

In terms of regional co-operation, the government continues to work with the United Kingdom with a view to the implementation of a new mechanism (to replace the trilateral forum) of flexibly comprised ad hoc groups to deal with issues of mutual interest (environmental issues, fisheries, fight against illegal trafficking, etc.), to include participation not only from Spain and the United Kingdom but also from the local authorities in Gibraltar and the competent local and regional Spanish authorities in each case, as well as the European Commission in his role as "guardian" of strict compliance with EU legislation.

Spain is exercising full compliance with suggestions from the European Commission on issues of managing flows across the Gibraltar-Spain border contained in the report deriving from the mission of this institution which travelled to the border in September 2013. This report, published in November 2013, is very positive for Spain, since it clearly highlights that the Spanish border controls do not breach EU law, it acknowledges the problem of increased tobacco smuggling and requests that the United Kingdom introduces improvements in the fight against illegal trafficking. Spain has also fully complied with the Commission's additional recommendations resulting from the new mission which travelled to the border crossing in July 2014 (to verify compliance with the suggestions contained in the report of November 2013), which demanded at the same time that the United Kingdom comply with the recommendations directed to these authorities by the Commission, particularly in relation to the fight against all forms of illegal trafficking, in particular, tobacco smuggling.

Moreover, after carrying out an inspection on the ground, in July 2014, the EU's European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) sent the Spanish and British authorities a report claiming that - as argued by Spain - there are grounds for believing that tobacco smuggling and money-laundering offences are taking place in Gibraltar. This report was passed on to the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Spanish National High Court, which is investigating the possible commission of these offences.

Furthermore, the European Commission has also undertaken to study other Spanish claims of a tax and environmental nature, through the appropriate channels.

The Commission is continuing with the formal investigation procedures of the tax regime in Gibraltar initiated in 2013 (in response to a claim filed by Spain in June 2012), since grounded suspicions exist that this may constitute a covert regime of State aid. On 1 October 2014, the Commission announced that it was going to extend this investigation to tax decisions adopted by certain companies, upon a suspicion that 165 tax agreements between the authorities in Gibraltar and various companies in 2011, 2012 and in the first eight months of 2013 could include unlawful public aid to companies that do not generate their income in Gibraltar.

Spain has firmly responded to unilateral acts by the local authorities in Gibraltar in neighbouring waters, such as bunkering - illegal refuelling and the sinking of concrete blocks. These acts are not only considered to be in breach of Spanish legislation but also of EU legislation. To that end, claims have been filed by the State's Attorney's office, which have also been passed on to the European Commission. Spain continues to furnish the Commission with additional documentation that shows the existence and gravity of the offences committed by the local authorities in Gibraltar, without sparing efforts to enforce Spanish and European legislation in the waters close to Gibraltar, which are Spanish.

On another note, the government has made it clear that the maritime Guardia Civil services are prepared to lend support to Spanish fishing vessels when necessary, so that they can freely fish in Spanish waters as they have done traditionally. Furthermore, it has renewed the Aid Plan for the fisheries sector.

Spain's participation in international organisations

Spain and the United Nations

The commitment to multilateralism and to the United Nations is a fundamental cornerstone of Spain's foreign policy. Our staunch multilateral vocation is based on the conviction that global challenges facing the international community, such as peacekeeping and security, the fight against poverty and fostering sustainable development, the promotion and respect for and protection of human rights, and the fight against climate change can only be effectively tackled within the framework of multilateralism and the United Nations.

Spain's commitment to multilateralism, at the heart of which is the United Nations system, is reflected in the country's increasing presence both on its main bodies and through its agencies, funds and programmes, as well as a gradual increase in the number of Spanish public servants that work for the organisation. Our country is the ninth largest contributor to the ordinary budget of the United Nations Organisation.

Spain defends a strong and effective United Nations system based on its three pillars that are closely inter-linked (peace and security, development and human rights). Furthermore, our country is committed to the reform process being undergone at the United Nations, aimed at ensuring a more effective organisation in achieving its aims and more efficient in the use of its resources.

Logotype of Spain (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation)On 16 October 2014, Spain was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to form part of the Security Council as a non-permanent member for the two-year period 2015-2016. This is the fifth occasion on which Spain has taken on this responsibility since it joined the UN in 1955. It had previously been a member in 1969-1970, 1981-1982, 1993-1994 and 2003-2004. Furthermore, within the Security Council, our country has been designated to exercise the presidency of the 1540 Committee, on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and on the 1718 and 1737 Committees on sanctions on North Korea and Iran respectively.

Spain has set out a series of priority lines of action during its presidency of the Security Council. These include strengthening preventive diplomacy and attention to the root and structural causes of conflicts in order to work on their prevention and ensure the sustainability of the solutions implemented; increasing the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations; applying the responsibility to fully and effectively protect; protecting civilians in conflicts; implementing resolutions on women, peace and security fully and effectively; protecting children in armed conflicts; strengthening the rule of law; supporting peacebuilding processes in post-conflict situations; promoting non-proliferation and disarmament; fighting terrorism, with particular attention to its victims; and dealing with the new challenges to international peace and security, such as climate change and cybersecurity. At the same time, Spain has set certain priorities in line with those of the EU for the 70th period of sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Spain also maintains a firm commitment to a multilateral system of strong and effective human rights, and to the promotion and protection of the universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutual empowering nature of all human rights.

Furthermore, Spain is fostering development co-operation as a tool for preventing violence and conflicts, and inclusive development as a key element for peace and security based on the recognition of the mutually empowering relationship between security and development. Our country has been actively and constructively participating in drafting the upcoming Post-2015 Development Agenda to include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a continuation of the process initiated with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and on the basis of a profound reflection of the lessons learned through the MDG and the outstanding challenges. Spain is paying particular attention to initiatives on the matter of sustainable agriculture, food and nutritional security, and energy.

Within the framework of the current debate on the process to reform the UN Security Council, Spain, as part of the Uniting for Consensus group, advocates reaching an agreement backed by a wide majority of states, to ensure a more representative, balanced and accessible Council by increasing the number of non-permanent posts with a fair geographic distribution (reflecting the current situation of the international community) and allowing long-term mandates with the possibility of re-election. It also advocates that the reform should pay close attention to the transparency and accountability of the Council through a revision of its work methods, including mechanisms for ensuring that the opinions of affected states are heard and their interests taken into account in the work of the Council and its dependent bodies, as well as more fluid and intense collaboration between the Council and other bodies, including the General Assembly and the Peace-building Commission.

Our country contributes to strengthening the capabilities of the United Nations in terms of peace-keeping and peace-building, establishing a suitable level of participation in authorised peace-keeping missions under the mandate of the Security Council, through the provision of military personnel and other personnel from the State law enforcement agencies, and making available to the UN such infrastructure as may be necessary to improve its logistical capabilities, such as the United Nations Support Base in Quart de Poblet. Spain is currently the tenth-largest contributor to the Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) budget and is a participant nation in the following operations: MINUSTAH (Haiti), UNMIL (Liberia), ONUCI (Côte d'Ivoire), and UNIFIL (Lebanon), in the latter with 589 personnel. Our country plays an active role in reviewing the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations set up by the Secretary General, which seeks to adapt these missions to current challenges.

Spain has also been actively defending and promoting various cross-cutting issues within the framework of the United Nations, including such noteworthy issues as the use of mediation as an effective instrument for the prevention and resolution of conflicts and peace-building. Our country is part of the Group of Friends of Mediation, which together with Morocco, has launched the Initiative for Mediation in the Mediterranean. Also worthy of mention is Spain's drive to promote water diplomacy as an instrument to solve controversies and prevent water-related conflicts, through dialogue and partnership mechanisms aimed at the shared management of water resources by the parties involved. Against the backdrop of the 2013 declaration of the "International Year of Water Co-operation" and the importance attributed by our country to water as a factor for peace and security, Spain has been promoting, together with Algeria, a Water Strategy in the Western Mediterranean. Our country has also been advocating the right to drinking water and sanitation, after obtaining international recognition of this as a result of a campaign promoted by Spain and Germany.

Spain's participation on international UN-dependent bodies

Spain maintains close relations with the specialized agencies of the United Nations, playing an active role in them and helping to secure their objectives. In some cases, this cooperation has been so exten­sive that the agencies have opened liaison offices in Spain. Of the agencies making up the technical side of the UN system, Spain has special ties with the World Tourism Organization (WTO), based in Spain since 1975.

In addition to the Liaison Offices that some agencies of the United Nations have had in Spain for decades, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) (1985) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (1988), the number of UN agencies, funds and programmes opening offices in Spain in recent years is on the rise. Most notably, the World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) has a new logistics centre in the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2011), while the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2013), the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (2010), the United Nations Office to sup­port the Water Decade (2006) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) (2011) are all present in Spain with offices in Barcelona, Ma­drid and Zaragoza.

Finally, in relation to boosting the presence of Spaniards on international bodies, worthy of mention is the joint work carried out in 2014 with the Human Resources Department of the United Nations Secretariat to increase the number of Spaniards working for the United Nations system. This collaboration gave rise to the joint organisation of recruitment missions designed to inform Spanish citizens on job opportunities at the United Nations. The increased number of Spaniards in executive and professionals posts has been significant in this regard. Furthermore, over the last three years, 30 young Spaniards under the age of 32 have commenced their career as international civil servants working for the United Nations, due to the excellent results of young Spanish professionals in the Young Professional Programme exams.

United Nations (UN Joao Araujo Pinto)In relation to the fight against illicit drug trafficking and laundering of the proceeds of the latter, Spain has played an important role in a number of initiatives over the past year. The implementation of the Cooperation Programme between Latin America and the European Union on Drugs Policies (COPOLAD) funded by the European Commission, is spearheaded by the FIIAPP (International Latin American Foundation for Public Administration and Public Policy) and the Government Office for the National Drugs Plan. In April 2013, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, together with his counterpart from the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a framework allowing coordination and cooperation between Spain and the office. One of the outcomes of this memorandum is that Spain will provide technical assistance to the projects developed by UNODC to prevent social and health problems caused by drugs, combat corruption, prevent international terrorism and put a stop to drug trafficking and various forms of transnational organized crime.

In relation to Disarmament and Non-proliferation, Spain has promoted and ratified the main international treaties subscribed over the last few years in this area. On 24 December, the Arms Trade Treaty came into force, in which Spain played a very active role in its adoption. The entry into force of this agreement is a fundamental step in the fight against the illegal trafficking of conventional weapons and helps foster the interests of national security and the prevention of illegal actions, including the violation of human rights.

On 21 January 2014, Spain signed up to the second cycle of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Exam. This constituted the most far-reaching event for Spain over the last few years in terms of the multilateral promotion and protection of human rights. Furthermore, in 2014 Spain received visits under two special procedures of the United Nations: firstly the Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, in January 2014; and secondly, the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice, in December 2014.

With the strict scope of foreign policy on human rights, at the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, together with Germany, Spain presented a new resolution on the human right to water and sanitation, and has continued to provide support to the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, a position currently held by the Brazilian, Leo Heller. In 2015, Spain and Germany will present a new proposal for a resolution on this human right to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. In 2015, Spain and Germany are presenting a new resolution on this human right through the Third Commission of the 70th period of sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Non-discrimination on grounds of sex or sexual orientation remains an important priority for Spanish foreign policy. To this end, over the last twelve months Spain has maintained its efforts at eradicating violence against women. In relation to femicide, these efforts have been reflected in the publication of a "Guide of recommendations" for the effective investigation of this offence and in the organisation of a fourth Ibero-American seminar which seeks to offer appropriate tools to more effectively tackle this form of violence. Furthermore, the joint Spain-Holland initiative over the last two years has been maintained regarding the incorporation of the gender perspective in peace-keeping operations. This is a manifestation of the application of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Since this year is the 15th anniversary of this resolution, the process of revising this agenda will be a priority for Spain. One of the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the Security Council in October 2015 is a high-level review of the Resolution, with the aim of approving a new resolution that can boost the goals of this Agenda, and in particular increase the participation of women in the construction of a lasting and sustainable peace.​

On the issue of the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, and harnessing the boost given following the High-Level Meeting on Development and Disability held in September 2013 in New York, actions were taken in 2014 in favour of the international promotion of the International Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at different forums as a benchmark instrument on all disability-related policies, as well as in favour of including this group in 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The fight against the death penalty remains a priority. Together with the rest of the European Union and other abolitionist countries, Spain contributed in helping the international community continue to make progress on a universal moratorium as a preliminary step towards abolition. In December 2014, the resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty was approved by the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly with increased support compared with in 2012, which is a good example of the growing trend towards abolition.

Spain has provided support for initiatives related to the adoption of the so-called "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Implications for Companies", which the Human Rights Council took on through a resolution adopted by consensus in June 2011. In particular, in collaboration with the EU partners, Spain supports the initiatives of the United Nations Working Group on Human Rights Implications for Companies, specifically through the Annual Forum on Businesses and Human Rights that brings together representatives of governments, companies and civil society.

Spain's firm commitment to promoting democracy and human rights can once again be seen in a renewed effort to guarantee noteworthy Spanish participation in electoral observation missions from the EU, the OSCE and the OAS. In 2014, a total of 110 Spanish observers and electoral experts took part in various missions.

Lastly, Spain is a leading player in international forums for intercultural and interreligious dialogue issues. It is the co-sponsor of the United Nations Alliance for Civilisations and co-founder of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, since it considers this to be a priority in improving understanding and co-operation relations between states and peoples of all cultures and religions, acting in favour of a culture of peace and diplomacy of values.

Other international organisations: OSCE and the Council of Europe

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Eu­rope (OSCE) is a pan-European security organization with 57 participating States whose territories span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok. It is a primary instrument for early warnings, conflict pre­vention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabili­tation. The activities of the OSCE and its institutions are structured around three mainstays or "dimen­sions": political-military, economic-environmental and human.

The basic aims of the Council of Europe, the oldest political organization in Europe, set up in 1949, are to foster parliamentary democracy and the pre-emi­nence of the rule of law. At present, the Council of Europe, which is headquartered in Strasbourg (France), has 47 member countries and five other states with observer status: the Vatican, United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico. Spain is currently the sixth largest contributor to the organization and one of its most active members. The Council of Europe is the overseer of democratic security in Europe, focused on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Lastly, Spain is also a member of NATO, which is dis­cussed in the chapter on defence policy.

New foreign policy instruments

 External Action Law

Among the year's principal milestones, noteworthy is the approval of the State's External Action and Service Law 2/2014, of 25 March (Spanish acronym LASE) which seeks to fill a regulatory loophole that has been in existence since the transition to democracy and to overcome the problems that had been detected in the design and implementation of Spanish foreign policy. The new legislation seeks to provide foreign policy with greater coherence so that there is greater coordination both with the EU and its new European External Action Service, and with the regional governments.

At a level of supranational and regional coordination, major new features have been introduced in order to strengthen Spain's presence in areas in which this has traditionally been lacking. To that end, new formulas have been designed to share diplomatic representations with Ibero-American countries and with other Member States of the EU.

It also introduces new aspects in terms of the creation of different planning instruments and involves several players at both a ministerial level and in regard to civil society.

External Action Strategy

The External Action Strategy (Spanish acronym: EAE) is another of the key pillars of foreign policy that came into operation in 2014. Provided for in Article 35.4 of the State's External Action and Service Law, its emergence constitutes an historic achievement, since it is the first time that Spain has had such a strategy contained in a public document, which expresses the priorities, objectives, instruments and resources of its External Action. The drafting of the EAE, promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, involves input from the main players and State legal bodies (Constitutional bodies, regional government and Autonomous Cities, local authorities, the Council of Ministers and Parliament). Hence, the EAE is the result of a broad consensus, and has a marked vocation for permanence and stability.

Previously, the objectives of Spanish foreign policy had been defined in geographic terms (traditionally Europe, Ibero-America and the Mediterranean). The EAE has opted to define global priorities in line with the changes being undergone in the international community:  

  1. Implement more coherent, effective and transparent external action;
  2. Promote and project our values and interests;
  3. Place citizens at the heart of foreign policy;
  4. Project Spain globally as an advanced nation.

These four priorities are developed through the 11 aims contained in Article 2.2 of the State's External Action and Service Law:

  1. The maintenance and promotion of international peace and security;
  2. The development of strong and legitimate multilateral institutions;
  3. The promotion and consolidation of political systems based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and public liberties;
  4. The fight against poverty, solidarity with countries undergoing development and the socio-economic developments of all states;
  5. The defence of the environment and protection of the biodiversity, the fight against climate change and concern for food security;
  6. The elimination of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons, and assuming an active commitment to progressive world disarmament;
  7. The construction of a more integrated and legitimate Europe for its citizens, which places it as a benchmark global player;
  8. The strengthening of the Ibero-American Community of Nations;
  9. The security and well-being of Spain and its citizens;
  10. Citizen assistance and protection, as well as the protection of Spain's economic interests overseas;
  11. The promotion of Spain's economic interests overseas.

Furthermore, the EAE provides for the development of all the actions contained in the law that reflects the activity of different ministerial departments overseas: External Action on matters of defence, human rights, taxation, justice, etc.

The EAE, showcasing the new instruments of Spain's external action (Spain Brand, public diplomacy, digital diplomacy and parliamentary diplomacy), is committed to a new system of foreign policy. Within this new system, it provides for a decision-making process with greater strategic planning, that offers greater visibility and underlines the figure of the President of the Government (requirement of globalisation and current interdependence), and introduces improvements in the evaluation of efficiency and democratic control of external action.

Finally, the EAE highlights the need for new deployment of human and material resources at the service of external action that take into account the changes in the geographic distribution of the power and influence of the international community.

Marca España Strategy

The Marca España project has two premises: continu­ity, since it is designed as a State policy, and political, because it involves designing and implementing a pol­icy of foreign influence and making internal proposals for the purpose of performing influential actions in the former and achieving institutional improvements in the latter.

In the current context of recession, Marca España can and must help with economic recovery and the job sit­uation. An improved country image both in and outside Spain will help raise exports, attract foreign invest­ment, support the internationalization of Spanish com­panies (boosting the pull effect of big business on SMEs seeking niches abroad), increase tourism and, in short, assist with economic recovery.

Marca España is based on the work of all the public and private departments and bodies that have or have had a key role in the projection of Spain's foreign im­age and involves the coordination and orientation of their efforts, including those of the autonomous com­munities.

The Government High Commissioner for Marca Es­paña was created to direct this strategy. This position is currently held by Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, having been appointed by the Government and taken office on 12 July 2012.

The High Commissioner is responsible for the plan­ning, promotion and coordinated management of the actions. This involves drafting the Annual Foreign Pol­icy Plan to promote Marca España and submitting reg­ular reports to Government on the completed activities and their results.

The High Commissioner acts with the backing of the Marca España Board, which includes the chairpersons and directors of the project's main actors and debates and analyses its main guidelines for action. He also has a number of tools at his disposal, including work­ing groups and the Marca España website.

Companies are both the leading actors and potential beneficiaries of the Marca España project. Hence, the project works with the Forum of Leading Brands of Spain, which is composed of the General State Admin­istration and Spain's top companies.

In academic terms, Marca España has partnered with Real Instituto Elcano, which has created a Marca Es­paña Observatory that will develop a series of indica­tors enabling us to ascertain Spain's image abroad now and as it evolves over time.

Spanish co-operation

The third instrument of foreign policy is Official Devel­opment Aid, managed by Foreign Aid agencies, whose ultimate aim is to contribute to human development, the eradication of poverty and the full exercise of hu­man rights.

The Secretariat General of International Development Cooperation reports to the State Secretariat for Inter­national Latin American Cooperation, assisting it in its functions, while the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation fosters, manages and im­plements public policies on this type of cooperation.

The Fourth Master Plan for Foreign Aid began in 2013 and is scheduled to end in 2016. It is the basic element for planning Spain's international development coop­eration policy, establishing its general guidelines, ob­jectives and priorities, and the estimated budget re­sources available to it over the four years.

Cooperación Española has actively participated over the last three years in preparing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in the definition of the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. The agenda was finally approved on 25 September in New York, following an historic process of consensus that included international and national consultations.

Spain has also contributed to configuring the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on development finance. As with Agenda 2030, Spanish cooperation defined its position based on the work of an academic group and the ministerial departments of central government.

International talks on climate change in the United Nations have reached a crucial point in 2015. In December, the Climate Summit in Paris will agree a new international legally binding treaty, which establishes the global framework for the fight against climate change starting in 2020. The Spanish Office for Climate Change coordinates the Spanish position in which the Spanish cooperation plays an active part.

The budget for humanitarian action in 2015 amounted to 26 million euros. The Office for Humanitarian Action in 2015 has basically focused on well-known issues: Syria and neighbouring countries; Sahel; Sahrawi camps; Palestine; Central America and the Caribbean; Colombia and the Philippines; the Ebola crisis; and emergencies caused by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes that devastated Nepal. AECID also works with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) through the Emergency Fund and the Central Fund for Action in Emergencies, and the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of the Red Cross.

Of particular note is the signing of the strategic bilateral cooperation documents - Country Strategic Partnerships (MAP - Marcos de Asociación País) with Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Haiti, Morocco, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Senegal. The agreement with Mail is in being prepared, as are second MAP partnerships with Colombia and El Salvador. Spain is participating actively in the EU joint programming processes, both in Brussels, and through Spanish cooperation at its headquarters and on the ground.

Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation (AECID) logistics centre

Also of note is the signing of the strategic association frameworks with UN bodies considered strategic and priorities for Spanish cooperation, specifically with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN-Women.

From the point of view of planning multilateral action, the Spanish Secretariat-General for International Development Cooperation has prepared a document for prioritising multilateral development organisations to make multilateral aid more effective and focused. The document defines certain objective and technical criteria for identifying the multilateral development bodies with which the EU makes the biggest impact through its multilateral actions, making them more finely tuned and realistic, while avoiding the fragmentation of resources.

In 2015, Spanish cooperation has consolidated its partnership with the business world, giving a boost both to public-private partnerships for development and promoting greater participation from companies in cooperation projects with a priority given to the field of innovation.

In the area of refundable financial cooperation, Spanish cooperation's framework for action for Refundable Financial Cooperation has been approved, together with a legal reform of the Development Promotion Fund (Spanish acronym: FONPRODE), which will improve the action of instruments designed to increase impact on development.

Coherence of Development Policies (Spanish acronym: CPD) is a priority for the Spanish system of international development cooperation. The 2015 report on the Coherence of Development Policies carried out by the Secretariat-General for International Development Cooperation includes a review of the methodology for preparing these reports. The report will be reviewed by the CPD Committee of the Cooperation Council with the aim of examining in greater depth the status of the CPD in Spain.

In 2015, Spain presented to the OECD the process for building a common position, defended both in negotiations for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. This process of inclusive participation between the administration and civil society has become a significant pilot project on good practices in the Coherence of Development Policies.

In its commitment to the processes of regional integration as a driver of development in Africa, AECID has signed a MoU with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and held a meeting of the Steering Committee of the Fund with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Through ECOWAS, regional policies are being supported in the sectors of agriculture, renewable energies, infrastructure and migration. With NEPAD, Spanish cooperation has created the Fund for Empowering African Women. This is a pioneering instrument in Africa and demonstrates Spain's commitment to the promotion of the rights of women.

The APIA Programme (Support for Inclusive Public Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa) contributes to the progress of democratic processes. Its aim is to contribute towards inclusive and equitable growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, benefitting all citizens. APIA will provide support to the local procedures for formulating and monitoring public policies, with particular emphasis on the participation of civil society. The APIA Programme is managed jointly by the Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) and the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (Spanish acronym: FIIAPP). It will focus its activity on countries considered priorities for Spanish cooperation in the region: Senegal, Mali, Niger, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea; and on the main regional African organisations such as the African ​Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and ECOWAS, with which Spanish cooperation works to boost development.

New Generation Agreements have also been signed to define a special model of cooperation for non-priority countries in Latin America with privileged bilateral relations So far agreements have been signed with Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay.

Within the framework of Spanish support for the process of Central American integration, President of the Government Rajoy met in March 2015 in Guatemala with the member countries of the Central American Integration System (Spanish acronym: SICA). The meeting reaffirmed Spain's commitment to support the Central American Security Strategy. A joint declaration was signed recognising the joint negotiation of the price of medicines, the execution of the Territorial Rural Development Strategy (Spanish acronym: ECADERT), the implementation of the regional gender policy, processes for training in security and the progress made in harmonising the legislative framework on criminal matters.

Work is being done with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the Water and Sanitation Cooperation Fund (Spanish acronym: FCAS) to continue close collaboration on water and sanitation in Latin America with operations with repayable funds. Our entry into Aquafund (the IDB's grant fund for technical assistance for loans for water and sanitation) will allow these operations to be completed.

Also of note is participation in Triangular Cooperation operations with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

Cross-cutting projects have been pushed through in Latin America, such as the Knowledge Transfer, Exchange and Management Plan (Intercoonecta), which has included the launch of the Virtual Knowledge Centre. The Plan aims to extend the training on offer by including Latin American countries that can offer training in certain fields to other countries in the region, concentrate this offer on specific areas that reflect demand, generating networks between the beneficiaries of training programmes and Spanish counterparties.

The new ARAUCLIMA programme was presented at the session of the COP in Lima in December 2014, with the aim of supporting actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change in Latin America, preserve the environment and strengthen the main bodies and institutions in the region, also promoting access to international finance in the fight against climate change (Green Fund).

An intervention strategy has been drawn up in specific lines that ensures the impact and added value of the indigenous and Afro-descendant programmes in Latin America, which constitute a feature of the identity of our cooperation with respect to other donors and serve two very vulnerable groups in the region.

Within the framework of the Masar Programme ("Programme accompanying the processes of democratic government in North Africa and the Middle East") it is worth highlighting the participation of the Spanish Cooperation Agency in a European project called Tahdir (strengthening social cohesion for a democratic and inclusive Syrian civil society) financed through the European Commission's Foreign Policy Instrument to Contribute to Peace and Stability, whose aim is to prepare the transition in post-conflict Syria. The project includes the launch of the Tahdir Al-Masar ("Preparing for the Path") programme, co-financed 50/50 by the European Commission and the AECID: with an initial total budget of 4 million euros (2 million from AECID and 2 million from the EU), to be implemented over 32 months. It consists of providing training for 1,205 Syrian participants. The three core areas for action are: women's empowerment; training and support for young leaders; and the media and democratic governance. It is the main and most ambitious European Commission action under way for the Syrian population (apart from humanitarian aid).

With respect to the Middle East, of note is the "Project to Modernise the Administration of Justice in Egypt". This is the first EU programme of its kind in the area of Justice, in which AECID is participating in a consortium of European organisations. The project began in December 2014 and is expected to be completed in December 2018, with a total approved budget of over 9 million euros, of which AECID is responsible for nearly 1 million.

The main area of cooperation with the EU in 2015 has been consolidation within the AECID of working practices with the European Commission in this field, extending the number of projects that are managed using EU funds. In total, the AECID now manages 15 delegated cooperation projects (12 in Latin America, 2 in Africa and 1 in Asia), as well as 2 subsidies (1 for Spain and 1 for Syria) and 1 technical assistance (Egypt) project for a total of 135,577,867 euros. This makes us the third biggest fund manager in the EU after Germany and France. At the same time, the process of joint programming has continued in countries prioritised for EU and Spanish cooperation. In recent years, programmes have been dedicated essentially to training AECID professionals in everything relating to the operation, forms and management of the European cooperation environment (with important meetings and sectoral seminars including one on blended learning). In 2015, there were two delegation agreements pending signing (Honduras and Bolivia), still at a draft agreement phase.

In 2014, Spain improved its ranking on the Publish What You Fund transparency indicator, a key reference for transparency in the world of cooperation. Spain has risen from 47th place in 2013 ("very poor") to 21st in 2014 ("fair"), the level of EU donor countries, and behind only the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

Cross-cutting projects have been pushed through, such as the Knowledge Transfer, Exchange and Management Plan (Intercoonecta), which has involved the launch of the Virtual Knowledge Centre.

In the Spanish Cooperation Agency, the Cultural and Scientific Relations Division, with a budget of 23.08 million euros, has taken on the competences related to Spanish cultural cooperation abroad. In 2015, culture and development programmes have been promoted in countries accepting Official Development Aid for cultural heritage and training/refresher courses, with special attention being paid to the construction of the Ibero-American Cultural Space through a network of cultural centres. In addition, a growing number of actions have been developed through the cultural and scientific departments of embassies to promote the culture and science of Spain.

In 2015, scholarship programmes have been boosted and improved. After more than six decades they are now one of the most highly valued instruments of Spanish foreign policy and cooperation. They offer a broad range of training aimed at foreign and Spanish nationals for research, training, creation and work experience in Spain and abroad, in development cooperation and subjects linked to culture, education and art. In addition, the Reader Programme (for teaching assistants to teach Spanish in universities or foreign schools) constitutes an important added value.

Last year, the role of institutional relations for cultural and scientific cooperation was been boosted. It has been carried out through the negotiation of agreements on education (particularly those relating to the recognition of degrees and studies), the strengthening of our presence in UNESCO, the consolidation of scientific diplomacy (strengthening bilateral relations in certain countries) and collaboration in various international R&D infrastructure consortiums.

The following autonomous regions have signed up the Framework Cooperation Agreement for Organisation, Coordination and Complementarity in the area of Decentralised Cooperation: Aragon, Cantabria, Galicia, Castile-Leon, Castile-La Mancha, Valencia, La Rioja, Balearic Islands, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre and Extremadura. Efforts are continuing to incorporate the rest of the regions. In addition, in 2015 Galicia, La Rioja, Castile-La Mancha, the Balearic Islands, Madrid and Extremadura joined the specific agreement on joint programming for humanitarian action, which organises the contribution of funds for operations offering a direct response to humanitarian disasters. In the area of local authorities, and to strengthen their cooperation structures and the mechanisms for mutual information and coordination, this year the agreement was renewed on collaboration between the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) and the Secretariat General for International Development Cooperation on the consolidation of the system for information Info@OD, participation in the MAP and incorporation into the Evaluation Plan.

The Education Area of Spanish cooperation has participated in the 2nd World Education Forum in Incheon (South Korea), at which a public statement was issued that puts this sector into a preferential position in the scenario that has just begun for the 2030 Agenda and that will end with the adoption of the Framework for Action for Education. There has also been intervention at the level of the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education, which has laid the foundations for preparing this initiative's 2016-2020 Strategic Plan.

The 2nd World Summit on Reducing Risks of Disasters took place in Sendai, Japan, in 2015. At the summit, the international community adopted a commitment to invest in preventing risks and in a development that is sustainable and resistant to climate change. The Secretariat-General for International Development Cooperation has prepared Guidelines for Spanish cooperation to steer it towards the adoption of a focus on constructing resilience for development, with the aim of introducing language and techniques for managing risks in our actions, helping to move towards a new model of development that is high in biodiversity and equity and low in carbon.

In the area of evaluation, as a means of generating learning experiences in the system, the main progress made was the approval of the Spanish Cooperation Evaluation Policy for 2013 which established a general framework for developing evaluations. Providing the necessary continuity and adopting measures for implementing this framework last year has led to significant improvements with respect to the number of evaluations made. It has generated the tools needed to ensure their quality and increased the number of evaluations published, making available a database of over 200 evaluations, thus generating knowledge of the processes and products of Spanish cooperation. In addition, there has been improvement in accountability to Parliament, with the presentation of the Annual Evaluation Reports for 2013 and 2014, prepared in consultation with the other actors in the system. Despite these achievements, a greater focus is needed on results and impacts and on promoting the culture of evaluation and mutual accountability with country partners.

Finally, it should be noted that within the framework of the process of geographical concentration of Spanish cooperation, in August 2014 the Royal Decree was passed approving the withdrawal of the Technical Cooperation Offices in Angola and Namibia, the Cultural Centres in Bogota, Quito and Brazil, and the creation of the Technical Office for Cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States, with headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, and of the AECID Cultural Centre in La Paz.

The Spain Brand project has been created as a State policy that aims to improve the image of our country, on the understanding that a good country image is an asset that helps support a country's international position in political and economic terms. It can also help generate jobs by increasing exports, attracting foreign investment, supporting the internationalisation of our companies and boosting tourism.

The Spain Brand Plan 2015 is the third presented so far (the first was in 2013). It was approved by the Board of Spain Brand in November 2014 and subsequently approved by the Council of Ministers. 

Among the new points in the plan are the creation of an Activities Map, an instrument for improving coordination between different public and private bodies that collaborate with Spain Brand. This tool aims to generate synergies and guarantee the coherence of the messages transmitted to promote the image and values of our country.

The Spain Brand plan for 2015 aims to ensure more extensive and effective coordination with the external network of embassies, consulates and sector offices, with the aim of facilitating the implementation of planned actions, particularly for specific country plans. More actions will be taken to ensure greater coordination at a conceptual and operational level. The adoption of a Map of Spain Brand Activities and its subsequent reflection in the specific country plans will clearly be step forward in strengthening the coordination of actions and initiatives between those responsible in Spain and the Spanish network abroad, as well as a further guarantee that these initiatives are more efficient and effective at country level.

In addition, this year there will be more work done to improve Spain's position in international rankings and studies in both areas.​

​Diplomatic information

In 2014, efforts were stepped up in the area of reporting information to the public by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation (Spanish acronym: MAEC), through traditional and habitual instruments. During the year, the MAEC issued 383 communiqués and 281 press releases and scheduled 13 press briefings on current affairs issues and other issues related to the agenda of senior ministerial officials.

Various institutional publicity campaigns have taken place in 2014. The "Safe trip" campaign sought to publicise consular action and a series of basic travel tips for those Spanish citizens travelling abroad. To that end, various advertising mediums were used such as flyers, posters, brochures and advertising spots circulated through the main travel agencies in Spain, the AENA airport network, Iberia airline and certain press media.

With the same aim, although in a more specific manner, the campaign for Erasmus students implemented in 2013, continued into 2014. The aim is to offer specific recommendations for almost 40,000 Spanish students that enrol annually at other European universities.

The publicity commitment of the ministerial department to bring external action closer to society was realised through two publicity exhibitions which were widely accepted by our citizens. In the months of February and March, Casa America [America House] and Casa Asia [Asia House] respectively, hosted the exhibition entitled '1986-2014: Spain in Europe', a journey taking stock of what the European Union has meant for Spain and what Spain has contributed to the European Union.

Similarly, noteworthy is the tribute made to the External Service and its humanitarian response through the exhibition 'Beyond its duty', at Santa Cruz Palace in the months of November and December. Through panels, photographs and personal objects, this exhibition explains the actions (many of them previously unpublished) undertaken during the Second World War by 18 Spanish civil servants who, through their individual actions, managed to save thousands of Jews from deportation and Nazi extermination.

In 2014, a major boost was given to training through the organisation of two online sessions of the Online Diplomacy Course, aimed at diplomatic staff and public servants from the External Service stationed in Madrid or overseas. Both editions of the course were highly successful.

The importance of the website as an informative tool should not be underestimated. Web news complements other classical instruments which can also be accessed through the website (communiqués and press releases). Web news contains the most important milestones on the agenda of the ministerial department (press conferences, attendance at institutional events, participation in multilateral forums, working trips, meetings with representatives from other states, etc.), as well as current affairs in Spanish foreign policy.

The website is conceived as an instrument for the public at large. Evidence of this is the increase in content geared towards Spaniards that wish to travel overseas (travel recommendations) and for those Spanish citizens that reside abroad. In this regard, the content geared towards offering this public service has continued to be updated and improved. In a simple, schematic form infographs summarise essential aspects of the work of the ministerial department and the State's external action. Audiovisual notes, in turn, contain different aspects of the MAEC explained by the heads and executives of the different units of the department or of the embassies and consulates abroad. The use of blogs, has also been stepped up, in which diplomats posted in different countries, or in the central services of the MAEC, provide citizens with an overview of their daily work in a more personal style.

During the course of the year, almost 200 country profiles available on the website have been updated and improved. Country profiles, which present essential informative content on each country in the world and analyse Spain's bilateral relations with them, have become an essential tool that gather together the most accurate data on Spain's presence overseas.

The adaptation to the new format of more than 210 subwebs of the various Spanish representations overseas has been completed.

To take stock, during the year, the website has experienced a notable increase in the number of visits, with the static sections 'When travelling overseas' (2.4 million hits), 'Information for foreigners' (1 million) and 'If you are abroad' (800,000) being the most visited.

The commitment to a more active ministerial presence on the social media (Twitter, Facebook and Youtube) has been stepped up in 2014. Twitter has seen an increase from 4,000 to 33,000 followers, and Facebook from 3,000 to 33,000 from 2013 to 2014.

The MAEC has continued its collaboration with Spanish National Radio (RNE) in 2014 through the programme "Miradas al exterior" [Looking abroad], which allows the MAEC to broadcast in two weekly slots on Radio 5, as well as the habitual presentation of dossiers and press summaries, both on a daily basis and related to specific events.

The Casas as an instrument of public diplomacy

Façade of Casa África (Casa África)The Casas constitute a complementary instrument to traditional diplomacy, a clear example of public diplomacy, understood as an exercise that seeks two main objectives. Firstly, to communicate and spread our priorities on foreign policy issues to representatives of civil society of third countries, and secondly, to establish and forge alliances with and between representatives of civil society in the broadest sense, in order to meet these objectives. The organisation of high-profile activities both in Spain and abroad aimed at strengthening our image and influence in their respective geographic zones and supporting the internationalisation of our companies constitute the most visible aspect of their work.

The following are examples in relation to 2014, to name just a few: Casa de América [America House] once again held in October, with great success, its programme of activities entitled 'America unites us'; Casa Asia [Asia House], in turn, was a key player in the activity programme on the occasion of the Spain-Japan Dual Year, as well as in holding the Spain-South Korea and Spain-the Philippines Tribunes. The Sefarad-Israel Centre continued to forge ties between Spain and the Sefarad communities of the diaspora through its programme entitled Erensya. Casa Árabe [Arab House] held in January, at its headquarters on Cordoba a meeting of opposition leaders and representatives of civil society. Casa África [Africa House] promoted, for the fifth year in a row, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organisation, the 'INVESTOUR initiative' to support the business tourism sector in its international expansion, as well as a seminar in New York on Investment and Tourism in Africa. Casa Mediterráneo [Mediterranean House], in turn, hosted the Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the Mediterranean Group in the month of April.

Instituto Cervantes

Cultural outreach has another crucial instrument in the form of the Instituto Cervantes, an institute charged with the task of promoting Spanish and its co-official languag­es around the world and spreading the culture of our country. It is present in 86 cities in 43 countries on every continent. In the past academic year, 240,000 people enrolled at these institutes, including 130,000 classroom students; the remainder were students of the AVE (Virtu­al Spanish Classroom) platform and teachers on training courses. The Instituto Cervantes awards Diplomas in Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE), whose exams were sat by more than 66,000 applicants last year. DELE diplomas are the most common Spanish diplomas around the world and are widely recognized.

Links