The abdication of Juan Carlos I de Borbón will have a significant impact on Spanish foreign policy as the ex-monarch has molded the foreign policy over the last forty years. One of his last acts during his reign was his three visits to the Persian Gulf between April and June, which is part of the new trade policy map and Spanish foreign investments. The reshuffling of the list of Spanish posts in the EU following the European elections should also be noted, as this is likely to have a greater affect than would first appear in the future of Spain in European politics.
2014 could be key for overhauling Spanish foreign policy. Key developments in the first three months of the year include the approval of the so-called Law Margallo, first of its kind in Spain and which fills a normative and organisational vacuum; Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s visit to the United States and Minister Margallo’s tour around Southeast Asia; the crisis between Spanish company Sacyr and the Government of Panama; and the Spanish government’s attempt to recover political influence in Brussels by advertising the country’s economic recovery.
In the last quarter of 2013, Spanish foreign policy was marked by five main issues: Gibraltar; US espionage; the Ibero-American Summits; the difficult balance between commercial expansion and foreign policy; and the so-called ‘Catalan’ question.
At the start of each year, the FRIDE team looks at the challenges likely to dominate European foreign policy in the following twelve months. With a view to 2014, we target the developments taking place in the increasingly volatile extended neighbourhood of the European Union (EU). The new FRIDE annual publication calls for a paradigm shift in the EU’s approach to the neighbourhood, building on a broader definition of its geographic scope and focusing on the political and security trends connecting different regions. It also looks at the foreign policies of pivotal regional actors such as Iran, Russia and Turkey and at the projection of external powers in the regions surrounding Europe.
The diplomatic incidents with Bolivia on the one hand and over Gibraltar on the other, the new foreign action and service law, the Syrian crisis, the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Afghanistan, the elections in Germany and the commercial shift towards Asia and Africa have marked Spanish foreign policy over the past three months.
In the past three months the Sahel, Syria, national security, commercial diplomacy and the ‘Spain Brand’ have been at the core of Spanish foreign policy.