Algeria denies that its announcement to suspend the friendship treaty with Spain and to stop financial transactions between the two countries entails the freezing of “current commercial transactions”. Algeria also states that it guarantees gas supply. This has been done by a statement released after the one issued by the heads of the EU’s trade and diplomatic policy, Valdis Dombrovskis and Josep Borrell, in which they saw a possible violation of the EU-Algeria association agreement in the announcements of the Maghreb government. And, accordingly, they opened the door to commercial retaliation.
In the statement from the Algerian Government there is also criticism of the European Commission: “The Algerian mission to the European Union regrets the haste with which the European Commission has reacted without prior consultation or verification with the Algerian Government in relation to the suspension for Algeria is part of a bilateral political treaty with a European partner, in this case Spain, without ensuring that this measure does not directly or indirectly affect the commitments contained in the Algeria-European Union Association Agreement”.
“Regarding the government’s supposed measure of stopping current transactions with a European partner,” says Algeria, “it only exists in the minds of those who claim it and those who have rushed to stigmatize it. In addition, and with regard to gas deliveries to Spain, Algeria has already made it known through the most authoritative voice, that of the President of the Republic [Abdelmadjid Tebboune], which will continue to fulfill all the commitments made in this context. It corresponds to the corresponding commercial companies to assume all their contractual commitments”.
Algeria’s reaction, in effect, has come a few hours after the end of the meeting between the Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, and the Community Vice President Dombrovskis. After the meeting, the European Commission has recognized that it sees a possible violation of the EU-Algeria association agreement in the freezing of relations with Spain, and has added: “Trade policy is the exclusive competence of the EU, and the EU is willing to deal with any type of coercive measure applied against a Member State”. In other words, Brussels was threatening Algeria with trade reprisals if it maintained the idea of freezing its relations with Spain.
“The decision taken by Algeria to suspend the treaty of friendship and good neighborly relations signed with Spain in 2002 is of great concern”, affirms the European Commission in a statement by Dombrovskis and the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell: “We are evaluating the implications of Algeria’s actions, including the instruction given to financial institutions to stop transactions between the two countries, which in principle appear to violate the EU-Algeria association agreement, in particular in the area of trade and investment. This would result in discriminatory treatment of an EU Member State and negatively affect the exercise of the Union’s rights under the agreement.”
“We are in close contact with the Spanish Government and contacting the Algerian authorities to quickly clarify the situation”, say those responsible for trade and diplomacy of the EU: “The bilateral relations of third countries with individual EU Member States are part of its relations with the EU. Unity and solidarity within the EU remain essential to defend our interests and values in our relations with all countries. In addition, trade policy is the exclusive competence of the EU, and the EU is ready to deal with any type of coercive measure applied against a Member State. However, the EU continues to favor dialogue first to resolve disputes”.
“We are friendly peoples”, said Albares at the end of the meeting with Dombrovskis in the European Commission, “but also sovereigns. We have been in agreement with the European institutions in the defense of Spanish and European companies. Trade policy powers are in the hands of the Commission, but Spain’s wish is that this be resolved as soon as possible through dialogue and diplomatic channels. And that companies can resume their activity with total normality. We are not talking about something that the Spanish government has done, but about a decision that the Algerian government has taken. The Spanish government has not made a single decision that affects Algeria nor has it uttered a word that provokes an escalation. We want a relationship with Algeria based on friendship, dialogue, mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs”.