Artículo 30 / Defense Policy
Spain and France are two neighbouring countries that share many interests and have been working together for many years to ensure stability and security in the Euro-Mediterranean area in general and North Africa in particular.
Among the successes of this Spanish-French cooperation, it is worth highlighting the numerous joint initiatives in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking in Africa. Thus, Spain and France collaborate closely within the framework of Operation Barkhane, the European training missions in Mali, Somalia and the Central African Republic, the naval operations to secure navigation in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea or the very successful Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre on Drug Trafficking, which in 2019 alone led to the seizure of more than 30,000 tons of cocaine.
Among the issues that allow for greater coordination, policy towards Morocco is perhaps the most important, as the Spanish-French divergence on this point is remarkable. The Sahara conflict, in which Spain advocates a solution that can be accepted by the Saharawi people while France openly supports the Moroccan positions, is perhaps the issue in which the positions of Madrid and Paris are most clearly distinguished. However, Spain’s policy is also conditioned by the land and maritime borders it shares with Morocco, a factor of conflict that does not affect French policy. Morocco’s periodic claim to sovereignty over Ceuta, Melilla and other Spanish territories, Rabat’s attempts to extend its territorial waters without taking into account Spanish rights, or Morocco’s use of illegal immigration as a tool of diplomatic pressure, frequently generate episodes of tension in which French support is often lacking in Madrid.
We believe that in order to respond to the challenges we face, Spanish-French collaboration must be intensified and improved where it is still possible. We must give continuity to those joint initiatives that have proved to be effective, provide ourselves with the means to carry them out by collaborating in the development of new equipment and weapons systems, and negotiate how to develop joint policies where this has so far been impossible. In particular, we need to agree on a common policy towards Morocco on the basis of a new plan for the Sahara that can be accepted by Rabat and the Spanish-French commitment to demand compliance with international law on the delimitation of territorial waters and respect for current European borders. Together, we will be stronger.
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