Spain positions itself as a key partner of European Cooperation

The senior officials of Spanish Cooperation have held high-level meetings over the last two weeks with European Union authorities to report on the structural reforms being undertaken by the Spanish system and structure Spain’s priorities and proposals in the initial process of planning of the European development cooperation funds.

The new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), with a budget of some 72 billion euros, the programming of which has been discussed at these meetings, comes under the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027 which will be shored up in the EU Budget for the next seven years. Spain has backed the simplification and flexibility provided for in the NDICI because, according to the State Secretary for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno Bau, “this will make rapid responses and European development programmes more important, effective and efficient”.

After Germany and France, Spain is the third leading country in managing EU delegated funds and a key partner in European cooperation, particularly in Latin American countries and Africa.

In her virtual meetings, Ángeles Moreno Bau was accompanied by the Director-General for Sustainable Development Policies, Gabriel Ferrero, and by the Directors of the two main institutions of Spanish Cooperation: Magdy Martínez Solimán, who heads up the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Spanish acronym: AECID), and Anna Terrón, Director of the International Foundation and for Ibero-America for Public Administration and Policies (Spanish acronym: FIIAPP). 

Among the issues addressed with senior European officials for cooperation and development, neighbourliness, civil protection and humanitarian aid, the focus was placed on coordinating Spanish and European programmes, development in the response strategy by Spanish Cooperation to combat the pandemic, support from the EU in the distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 in developing countries and Spain’s participation in the Team Europe initiatives. The State secretary described these initiatives and the NDICI as “huge steps for the European Union’s external action” and a “tremendous European boost for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.

At the meeting with Koen Doens, Director-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) at the European Commission, and with Maciej Popowski, Acting Director-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR), Ángeles Moreno Bau also advocated cooperation on migratory affairs of the Southern Neighbourhood, and called for a European coalition initiative with partner countries of transit and origin that supports long-term development, channels for legal entry into Europe and migratory management from different geographic scenarios.

The Director-General of DEVCO highlighted Spain’s central role in cooperation with Latin America and West Africa, and encouraged Spanish Cooperation to push through more Team Europe initiatives with other African countries. Koen Doens also underlined the need to incorporate the private sector in development cooperation through the new NDICI mechanisms.

For his part, the Acting Director-General of NEAR argued that Spain is essential for achieving stability in the region. Maciej Popowski also pointed out that 10% of the NDICI budget will be for questions related to migration and that more funds will be allocated for economic growth in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine and Jordan, all of which are priorities for Spain.

At the meeting with the Director-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid  (ECHO) of the European Commission, Michou Paraskevi, they addressed the possibility of organising a Donors’ Conference for Honduras, co-chaired by the EU and Spain, and the implementation of long-term pioneering projects in that country in the field of digital education. The head of European humanitarian aid agreed on the need for a comprehensive approach to development that goes beyond the immediate emergency response.

Lastly, in the talks with the Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Global Issues of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Stefano Sannino, the role of Spanish Cooperation in Europe was also addressed and its importance in light of the legal and financial reforms that are being carried out with the aim of modernising its capacity for action and adapting it to the 2030 Agenda. Stefano Sannino is very familiar with Spanish foreign policy and development cooperation, as he was the Italian Ambassador to our country.


The participants in these meetings expressed their satisfaction at the steps undertaken in designing the new architecture of the Spanish system and welcomed the fact that Spain is promoting an increase in the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget for 2021, and that it is, furthermore, one of the few countries that plans to increase its ODA in the current difficult circumstances.


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