The current wave of instability and conflict affecting their neighbours to the South and East has been a key issue on the Spanish and European agendas during the second quarter of 2015. In particular, the tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea that unfolded in April has returned the controversial issue of migration to the forefront of debate, both at a European and a national level. On the other hand, Spain has actively contributed to discussions in the United Nations Security Council just a few months before it assumes the monthly presidency of the organisation in October. Finally, economic diplomacy remains a central plank of Spanish foreign policy activity.
Following the European Council on 26 June and the expiration of Greece’s bailout, all eyes are now set on the outcome of the Greek referendum and the future of European integration. The summit has shown the extent of strain in Europe’s political fabric. Sharp exchanges among European Union (EU) leaders on the pressing refugee issue and the breakdown of negotiations on Greece point to the risk of a much-diminished Europe at home and abroad. Faced with the risk of collective failure, a strong collective reaction to restore political cohesion is urgent. But Europeans should beware of spinning into another spiral of introspection. The world is watching and taking notes.
Spain has assumed its seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2015-2016, amidst increasing tensions and challenges to international security, including the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Ukraine, among others. At European level, the fight against jihadist terrorism and the European energy union have dominated debates. At national level, Spain has begun to recover (albeit slowly) economically, while the country continues to search for business opportunities with both traditional and new trade partners.
Around a quarter of the world's states are classified as 'fragile', meaning that they generally suffer from weak governance and persistent poverty while being prone to conflict. State fragility is a particularly urgent challenge for EU foreign policy, partly because a large proportion of fragile states can be found in Europe's extended neighbourhood, stretching from West Africa via the Middle East to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and partly because of the EU's strong commitment to more effective development policies around the world.
Spanish foreign policy recorded important achievements in the last three months of 2014, including non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council and the approval of the first Foreign Action Strategy. Meanwhile, the Veracruz Summit concluded the reform process of the Ibero-American dialogue. In addition, economic diplomacy and Brand Spain continue to be the government’s best bet to reignite the economy and improve its international image.
At the start of each year, FRIDE looks at the challenges for European foreign policy in the following twelve months. This year, at a time of growing geopolitical stress across the world, our central theme is how others deal with disorder. The book analyses the strategies of nine different countries for coping with instability – ranging from major powers with the ability or aspiration for global influence (i.e. China, the United States) to others with a regional focus (i.e. Iran, Turkey) – and the implications of those strategies for Europe.