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Spain’s PM is making a mistake

Rajoy’s offer to act as intermediary for Trump in Europe and Latin America will hurt Spain’s image

The position adopted by Mariano Rajoy in his telephone conversation with Donald Trump, when he offered Spain as a mediating voice for the new US administration in Europe and Latin America, is more than a serious mistake – it is a slight to our partners in the European Union and to Latin American countries.

Mariano Rajoy at a recent EU summit in Malta.
Mariano Rajoy at a recent EU summit in Malta.Diego Crespo (EFE)

It does not seem very prudent to take on such a relevant foreign policy position – much less during a short telephone conversation that required interpreters —without a prior debate within the Spanish and European political framework.

Rajoy seems to forget that Spain is a fully-fledged member of the EU, and not a distant country that can watch on with detached curiosity as the new US president issues threats and detrimental measures for the EU, as though these did not affect Spain.

An initiative of such scope, if taken seriously, would require a substantial investment in time and diplomatic resources

The EU has institutions, people and procedures that are specifically tasked with drafting and coordinating a common foreign and security policy that is more necessary now than ever; Rajoy should help reinforce it, not make it weaker.

Similarly, Latin America is an area of vital strategic interest for Spain, both in political and economic terms, as Spain is the largest or second largest foreign investor in nearly every Latin American country, and can thus be seriously affected by Trump’s aggressive policy towards Mexico.

As we have said before, Rajoy should have followed in the footsteps of other European leaders like the conservative Angela Merkel or the Socialist François Hollande – to mention two ideologically opposed examples – who did not hesitate to clearly and firmly remind the US president about the principles of democracy, solidarity and openness to the world that the European project is based on.

It is odd that Rajoy, normally unwilling to lead any kind of initiative or to take risks, has awarded himself a role that neither one of the three parties involved (Latin America, Europe and Washington DC) appears to have asked of him. An initiative of such scope, if it were taken seriously, would require a substantial investment in time and diplomatic resources. And its chances of success would be scant, since Spain may have some influence on both sides of the Atlantic, but not enough weight to push any of the parties, particularly not Washington, to a negotiating table.

Rajoy should have followed in the footsteps of other European leaders like Merkel or François Hollande

Assuming that Rajoy spoke with the sincerest of intentions, we seriously doubt that such an initiative would ever make any headway. But it would be even worse if, as it seems likely, we are dealing with a frivolous, insufficiently thought-out offer born out of Rajoy’s desire to ingratiate himself with President Trump easily and at no cost to himself.

The government should worry that its European and Latin American partners and friends may construe this offer not as what it could or should represent, but rather as what it looks set to become: a crude and evident attempt at being friends with everyone that, far from improving Spain’s reputation, will instead damage it.

English version by Susana Urra.


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