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26th France-Spain Summit

Pedro Sánchez underlines to Emmanuel Macron the historic relations of exceptional trust that unite Spain and France

Montauban (France), Monday 15 March 2021

During this 26th Bilateral Summit, Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron expressed great harmony, as had previously been observed at the meetings between the two leaders in Paris in July and December last year and at the meetings in Brussels on the negotiations of the European Recovery Funds.

The President of the Government pointed to the importance of the signing of the Dual Nationality Convention between Spain and France, which is exceptional in the Spanish legal system, but which corresponds to an historical claim by the descendants of Spanish exiles and amounts to the extraordinary recognition of the close friendship between the two countries. The two leaders highlighted the historical ties that unite Spain and France, including the memory of the more than half a million Republicans exiled in France. In this regard, one of the most important moments on the agenda of the Summit is the visit by Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron to the grave of Manuel Azaña, President of the Second Spanish Republic, accompanied by descendants of Spanish exiles in France.

Spain and France, in regard to the management of the pandemic at a European level, support the work of the European Commission on the production of vaccines in Europe. The President of the Government also underlined that both countries have spoken about the best way to re-establish safe mobility. In this regard, they both stressed their support for a more sustainable, more social Europe with greater resilience to crises.

The two leaders consider it fundamental to speed up the implementation of the Next Generation EU, highlighting that their respective recovery plans open up new opportunities for collaboration between Spain and France. They also stressed the need for the European Union to pay closer attention to the Southern Neighbourhood and highlighted the collaboration between Spain and France whereby the two countries maintain an excellent level of cooperation in the Sahel, such as Spain's support for Operation Barkhane.

The two countries have undertaken common work on the major challenges of the future - the ecological transition, the digital environment and the orderly management of migration, and seek to step up their collaboration in the service of prosperity, security and the mobility of their citizens. As a result of the close collaboration between the two countries, Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron expressed their interest in searching for projects of shared interest in such fields as hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, the green transition and the need to make progress on electricity interconnections between the two countries. Spain shares the same ambition as France in the fight against climate change. In 2020, our country presented the Draft Climate Change and Energy Transition Act and the National Plan to Adapt to Climate Change.

The summit included the participation by video-conference of the ministers of the two countries from Paris and Madrid respectively. The Summit included the participation of the First Vice-President of the Government and Minister for the Presidency and Democratic Memory; the Third Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation; the Fourth Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge; the Minister for Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation; the Minister for Defence; the Minister for Home Affairs; the Minister for Work and Social Economy; the Minister for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda; the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; the Minister for Education and Vocational Training and the Minister for Universities.

Memoranda of Understanding

The importance of the ambitious initiatives contained in the joint declaration could be seen in the signing, among other agreements, of three Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on education matters, a Declaration of Intent and 11 Sector Declarations. One of the MOUs seeks to bolster language learning and the culture of the neighbouring country, another to facilitate the distance learning of the dual Bachillerato and Baccalauréat [Spanish and French school-leaving certificates] qualifications, while the third promotes joint qualifications and the mobility of university students between the two countries.

The First Vice-President of the Government and the French Minister for Culture addressed issues related to the historical memory and cultural cooperation, including the noteworthy creation of a bilateral committee to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of Pablo Picasso in 2023. Carmen Calvo proposed the implementation of a collaboration agreement on the archives of the Spanish Civil War, exile, resistance and deportation which are located in France and they proposed a collaboration project to digitalise the close to 150,000 files on Spanish refugees in France since 1945 from French archives, which would provide valuable information to raise awareness of Spanish exiles in France.

As regards the ecological transition, Teresa Ribera and her French counterpart signed a declaration to reaffirm the EU's climate leadership, developments towards climate neutrality by 2050, boosting a green, fair and ambitious energy transition, and renewing international interest in biodiversity, the prevention of desertification and the conservation of the oceans. The two countries also signed an MOU on sustainable fuels in the aviation sector and addressed the commitment made last week by the electricity system operators in Spain and France (REE and RTE) to speed up cooperation on interconnections.

Yolanda Díaz committed with the French team to join up their efforts to detect training needs and policies so as to leave no-one behind in the recovery. They also reaffirmed their interest in cooperating in the fight against labour fraud and job insecurity.

Spain and France agreed to implement a pilot project in 2021 that associates French centres to train future lecturers, with such Spanish public universities as Granada, Jaen, Basque Country, Valladolid, Cordoba, Navarre and Murcia. This document values the mobility of these professionals during the training process and their professional career.

Within the framework of the European Green Deal, the transport ministers undertook to promote production technologies of sustainable aviation fuel, with the aim of structuring a European market for this fuel and of achieving cleaner and more sustainable air transport. They also undertook to speed up cross-border connections in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Corridors and to speed up the re-opening of the Pau-Canfranc railway line.

Fernando Grande-Marlaska and his French counterpart stressed the importance of the external dimension for managing migratory flows. In this regard, they highlighted the example of cooperation between Spain and France and African countries, such as the GARSI Sahel counter-terrorism project, financed by the EU. Both ministers undertook to continue collaborating against cross-border organised crime and terrorism, and to work for safe tourism.

Margarita Robles underlined the strong bilateral ties in the field of security and defence at all levels, and their shared vision of how to protect people and forge peace in societies at risk, particularly in Africa and the maritime environment. They also undertook to jointly tackle the new challenges in the field of space and cyberspace, considering the EU as a structuring element of these initiatives. To that end, they stated that they would continue working to strengthen trans-Atlantic ties.

At an economic level, France and Spain stressed the need to continue to coordinate the economic response to the pandemic and to focus on the recovery. In this regard, the two countries advocate maintaining fiscal support until the economy has recovered from the crisis and implementing their national recovery plans. At the Summit, France and Spain renewed their commitment to strengthening the economic governance of the EU and to further developing the Economic and Monetary Union, the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union. At a bilateral level, they view the conclusion of international negotiations on digital taxation as a priority from now until mid-2021, and developing the EU's own taxation framework.

For their part, the agriculture ministers of the two countries reaffirmed the importance of bilateral cooperation on agriculture and agri-food, particularly in the wine and fruit and vegetable sectors and confirmed the environmental ambition of the Common Agricultural Policy, which must guarantee the viability of agricultural holdings.

Non official translation