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Spain and NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has its origins in the signing of the 1949 Washington Treaty, in which twelve countries on both sides of the Atlantic pledged to defend each other in the event of aggression against any of them. It currently has 31 member States, 21 cooperation partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), seven in the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD), four countries participating in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) and nine "Partners across the globe". Spain became NATO's 16th member on 30 May 1982.

NATO is an international political and military organisation whose aim is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. As stated in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, "the Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack them all (...)". This is the principle of collective defence, which has been invoked only once in the history of the Organisation, in response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States.


Su Majestad el Rey y el secretario general de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte, Jens Stoltenberg, en las nuevas instalaciones del Cuartel General de la OTAN en Bruselas​ (2018). Foto: Casa Real​

NATO is currently made up of 31 member States: the twelve founding countries (United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, the United Kingdom and Portugal), Greece, Türkiye (which joined in 1952), the Federal Republic of Germany (1955), Spain (1982), Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic (1999), Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (2004), Albania, Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017), North Macedonia (2020) and Finland (2023). All 31 members have now signed the Accession Protocol for Sweden, pending ratification by the Hungarian and Türkiye parliaments for Sweden's accession to become effective. "Any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area" may join the organisation (Article 10 of the Washington Treaty). The Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg is the organization's Secretary-General.

Spain did not join the integrated military structure until 1999. It has always been a reliable, secure and committed ally of the North Atlantic Alliance. From a foreign policy point of view, Spain works in the Atlantic Council to ensure that our interests are taken into account, with particular attention to partners on the southern flank. Spain's commitment to the Alliance was given special recognition when the NATO Summit of 2022 was held in Spain in Madrid, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of our accession to the organisation.

Spain hosts the headquarters of the CAOC in Torrejón de Ardoz, which controls southern European airspace; as well as the the Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices, Centre of Excellence, located in Hoyo de Manzanares (Madrid), and the High Readiness Force Land Headquarters in Bétera (Valencia), which has an international General Staff and is enabled to fulfil its role as the Headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance's Rapid Deployable Corps. Spain makes this Headquarters available to NATO on a permanent basis. Spain's contribution to NATO's Ballistic Missile Defence System, with six US AEGIS destroyers stationed at the Rota Naval Base, is worth mentioning. 

Within the framework of NATO's current deployment, in addition to participating in the Alliance's stand-by fleets (SNMG1 and SNMG2 and the SNMCMG 1 and SNMCMG 2 minehunters), Spain is present in Türkiye (with the deployment of a "Patriot" anti-aircraft battery to defend this country), in Latvia and soon in Slovakia and Romania (Spain provides high-capacity ground assets in the multinational battalion led by Canada in Latvia, and will be deployed to lead the battalion in Slovakia and will contribute to the French-led batalion in Romania, within the framework of the Enhanced Forward Presence), in Lithuania and Estonia/Romania and Bulgaria (rotating F-18 and Eurofighter jets in Air Policing action in the Baltic and Black Sea), in Iraq (Spain participates in training and capacity building activities of the Iraqi Armed Forces) and in the Mediterranean (Spain participates in the maritime security operation "Sea Guardian").​


Documentación relacionada

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España en los organismos internacionales de seguridad y defensaIt opens in new window

Representación de España ante la OTANIt opens in new window​​​​​


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