Ibero- America has always been a priority for Spain's foreign policy. Human, historical, social, cultural, political, economic and linguistic ties have made Ibero-America a constant in the foreign policy of Spanish governments, which have always prioritised the defence of democracy, the rule of law and the safeguarding of human rights in the region, especially of the most vulnerable (particularly indigenous and Afro-descendant populations). Ibero-America and Spain are united by an indispensable human component, since America is the place of residence of the largest number of Spaniards abroad and Spain is home to a growing Ibero-American community. In addition, in its relations with the continent, Spain pays specific attention to the Caribbean as a region that offers unique characteristics and faces a particular set of challenges.
In recent years, the countries of Ibero-America and the Caribbean have undergone significant changes that have led to a new approach in Spain's relations with the region. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have had numerous economic and social repercussions in Ibero-America and have created new challenges that add to the existing ones.
In this context, Spain maintains its bilateral relations in accordance with the particularities of each country, endeavouring to maintain a privileged dialogue with all of them. The aim is to strengthen mechanisms for political dialogue, coordinate in international organisations and explore economic opportunities for mutual benefit.
Spain is one of the main investors in Ibero-America and has a prominent presence in key sectors of the development and social modernisation process, such as banking, energy, communications, construction and infrastructure management, tourism and public service provision. Spain considers it is essential not only to reinforce dialogue and cooperation in order to contribute to the institutional strengthening of Ibero-American nations, but also to support effective economic reform processes that promote growth and favour the redistribution of wealth and equity.
Minister José Manuel Albares together with his counterpart from Costa Rica. Madrid, November 2021. Photo: NOLSOM-MAUC
International cooperation for development is one of the fundamental instruments of foreign policy for Ibero-America. It is adjusting to a new and successful scenario, in which a significant number of countries to which economic and technical resources have been allocated in the past have reached levels of development that will make them, in the short term, donors, and for which Spain offers new instruments focused on the knowledge economy, technology transfer and collaboration between research centres of excellence. Spain continues to cooperate in the fight against poverty in those Ibero-American countries that are in need.
Moreover, Spain plays an essential role in the design of EU policy towards Ibero-America and the Caribbean. As a proponent of integration and multilateralism as the best response to the new international reality, our country supports the various processes of economic, political and trade integration and keenly observes the new integrative initiatives that are being developed in the region. Also with the impetus of our country, the EU maintains a preferential dialogue with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), with both regions representing sixty countries (around a third of the members of the United Nations), with a GDP equivalent to 21% of the global total and more than a billion people (around 15% of the world's population). This means that the EU-CELAC Bi-regional Partnership has an impact on many people's lives and has the potential to shape the rules-based world order. Both the EU and Latin American and Caribbean countries broadly support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
During the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2023, the Third EU-CELAC Summit (17-18 July 2023) was promoted, recovering the format of dialogue at the highest level that had not taken place since its last meeting in 2015. At this Summit, the European, Latin American and Caribbean states stressed the common values that unite them and reiterated the biennial nature of the EU-CELAC Summits, with a view to holding the next one in 2025 in Colombia. An Investment Agenda for the region was agreed, within the “Global Gateway” strategy, and a 2023-2025 Roadmap was adopted, which envisaged, for example, the signing of an EU-LAC Digital Alliance (in March 2023) or the holding of the First Conference of EU-CELAC Ministers of Economy and Finance (held in Santiago de Compostela in September 2023).
Another of Spain's ongoing priorities in this context continues to be the strengthening of trade and investment relations between the European Union and Ibero-America and the Caribbean, in a scenario of growing international competitiveness, working resolutely to perfect and complete the extensive network of Association agreements between the two regions.
Spain's role in Ibero-America is also reinforced by our participation in various Ibero-American multilateral organisations as observers. This is the case of the Organisation of American States (OAS), since February 1972, or the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), since November 1982. Spain also has observer status in the Central American Integration System (SICA), since 2004, and in the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), since 2011. In November 2012, Spain became the first country to join the Pacific Alliance as an observer.
On the other hand, Spain's role in Ibero-America is very active in financial institutions such as CAF (Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean) or the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to which it contributes both in the bank's ordinary capital and in the budget for special operations, including the Spanish Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Spanish General Cooperation Fund, the Fund for Sustainable Energy and Climate Change and the Spanish Trust Fund for the Social Entrepreneurship Programme.
Community of Ibero-American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
Organization of American States (OAS)
Ibero-American Integration Association (LAIA)
Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (SICA)
Andean Community of Nations (CAN)
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)