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Foreign Policy

Sunday 31 December 2017

​The world, and accordingly, the system of international relations, has changed radically in recent years. Historians cite the date of reference as 1989, the year in which the Berlin Wall came down, and the new axis as globalisation, a factor which, combined with the emergence of information technologies and the displacement of geo-strategic importance from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, has forced most countries to revise their foreign policy.

In the case of Spain, these events have overlapped with a process of profound internal changes. The new Constitution, the creation of a de-centralised State, membership of the European Union, the longest and most sustained period of economic growth in our history, followed by the arrival of major migratory flows and the sudden outbreak of the crisis, and the impact of terrorism, firstly at a domestic level, and now Jihadi terrorism, have forced the public authorities to re-write Spain's foreign policy. The distinction between affairs that were formerly of an exclusively domestic nature and foreign policy is blurring at a fast pace.

The traditional cornerstones of Spanish foreign policy

Spain and the European Union

Membership of the European Union, deriving from our pro-European vocation, has been the decisive cornerstone of Spanish foreign policy since the Transition. Spain joined the European Community in 1986.

Spain and Ibero-America

Ibero-America is the other main cornerstone of our foreign policy. The profound ties between Spain and the region have meant that, in addition to being the main destination for the internationalisation of the Spanish economy, our European partners require that we play an active role as an intermediary gateway for their actions.

Spain and the Maghreb

The Maghreb is the object of growing attention from Spanish foreign policy. While Morocco and Algeria were always priority countries, these have now been joined by Mauritania, Tunisia and Libya.

High-level meetings

Spain holds bilateral summits with its main European partners to boost dialogue on common interests and as a sign of particularly close relations. Depending on the bilateral agenda, sector meetings between ministerial departments are also held.

Spain and the United States

The global presence of the United States and its central economic role in the world mean that this transatlantic relationship is one of the most important for Spain.

Spain's presence in international organisations

Spain and the United Nations

Spain's foreign policy is committed to multilateralism, and hence to the United Nations. This commitment to the United Nations is reflected in a growing presence on the main bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the UN, as well as a gradual increase in the number Spanish public workers allocated to this work.

On 16 October 2014, the United Nations General Assembly elected Spain to be a non-permanent member of the Security Council over the two-year period 2015-2016. This was the fifth time that Spain has taken on this responsibility since in joined the UN back in 1955.

Spain's participation in other international bodies

Spain actively participates in the specialised bodies of the United Nations and helps collaborate in achieving their goals. It is an active member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the pan-European body for protection and security. Spain is also a member of the Council of Europe, the oldest political organisation on the continent, set up in 1949, which seeks to defend human rights, boost parliamentary democracy and guarantee the pre-eminence of the rule of law.

 The new instruments of foreign policy

Foreign Action Act

Law 2/2014, of 25 March, on the State's Foreign Action and Service (Spanish acronym: LASE) is designed to make foreign policy ties more coherent, coordinating its activity with the European Union and the new European External Action Service, and, at an internal level, with the regional governments. The application of the law is designed through the Foreign Action Strategy (Spanish acronym: EAE).

'Spain Brand' Strategy

'Spain Brand' is a management strategy designed to enhance the image and reputation of our country overseas. This strategy seeks to position Spain as a country endowed with attributes of excellence, both in its quality of life and in its services. In order to manage the brand, the figure of the Government High Commissioner for the 'Spain Brand' was created.

Spanish Cooperation

Official Development Aid, managed by the official bodies of Spanish Cooperation, seeks to contribute to human development, the eradication of poverty and the full exercise of human rights. The body tasked with fostering, managing and implementing public policies on international cooperation is the State Agency for International Development Cooperation (Spanish acronym: AECID).

The Casas [Houses] and the Casas Network as instruments of public diplomacy

The Casas Network is an original instrument of Spanish foreign policy to complement traditional diplomacy with specific venues. The network is made up of six centres: Casa de América [America House], Casa Asia [Asia House], Casa África [Africa House], Casa Árabe [Arab House], Centro Sefarad-Israel [Sefarad-Israel Centre] and Casa Mediterráneo [Mediterranean House].

Cervantes Institute

The Cervantes Institute has the dual mission of promoting the teaching, study and use of Spanish around the world, and of spreading the linguistic, cultural, historic and artistic heritage of the people of Spain. Over recent years it has extended its scope of action to include other Spanish-speaking countries in its activities.