The European Commission sees a possible violation of the EU-Algeria association agreement in the freezing of relations with Spain. This was announced after the Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, traveled to Brussels this Friday to meet at 2:00 p.m. with the Vice President of the European Commission in charge of EU trade policy, Valdis Dombrovskis. Brussels adds: “Trade policy is the exclusive competence of the EU, and the EU is ready to face any type of coercive measure applied against a Member State.” In other words, Brussels threatens Algeria with commercial reprisals if it maintains 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”.
Albares added: “The European institutions see it as we do. We are united in the firm defense of our companies, which are European companies. We want dialogue and we are not going to give excuses for an escalation. The EU has tools to deal with the situation. That today I come to Brussels to analyze a decision of a third government and that the EU automatically has an analysis equal to that of Spain and that the opposition in Spain has another analysis, I can only judge it as disloyalty to Spain, it leaves me perplexed that the appearance of the President of the Government is requested to answer for the decision of a third party, a unilateral decision that affects Spanish and European companies”.
“I hope that Algeria in this convulsive context continues to play the role it always has, as a reliable supplier”, said the Foreign Minister.
Brussels affirms that “Algeria is an important partner for the EU in the Mediterranean, and a key actor for regional stability. We are confident that on behalf of our strong and long-term partnership, a speedy solution will be found to fully restore trade and investment relations. We are ready and eager to support these efforts.”
Albares’ trip comes two days after Algeria froze relations with Spain in response to Moncloa’s change of position with respect to the Sahara, which could have repercussions on the EU’s internal market if it ends up affecting trade relations.
Algeria, in addition to being a gas supplier for Spain, has an association agreement with the EU, which may be affected depending on the extent to which the freezing of relations announced by Algiers reaches.
“The decision taken by Algeria to suspend the Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborhood with Spain in 2002 is, of course, extremely worrying for us,” Nabila Massrali, Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the European Commission, acknowledged on Thursday: “We ask the Algerian to reconsider this decision. Algeria is a very important partner of the EU in the Mediterranean and is a key player in regional stability. We are analyzing the impact of this decision and the avenues for dialogue and diplomatic channels, because Algeria is a very important partner for us and we hope that they will reconsider this decision and work with Spain to find a solution to this current disagreement”.
“We are analyzing the scope” of the announcement by Algeria to suspend the Treaty of Friendship with Spain, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares had previously explained. “We want to analyze the national and European practical consequences of this measure in order to give a serene, constructive and firm response in accordance with the interests of Spain and Spanish companies,” said the head of Spanish diplomacy this Wednesday at the end of his speech in a seminar in Madrid on NATO, whose summit Madrid hosts in three weeks.