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Spain and the European Union

The European Union is the natural framework for our country’s political and economic development.

Spain’s aspirations to join the European Communities were invigorated by the arrival of democracy and, to that end, Spain requested accession on 26 July 1977. These aspirations came to fruition on 12 June 1985, with the signature of the Treaty of Accession in Madrid and its entry into force on 1 January 1986. Since then, Spain has achieved one milestone after another, advances that have improved the well-being of Spanish society as a whole.

Three and a half years after its accession, in June 1989 Spain’s national currency joined the exchange rate mechanism of the European Monetary System, created in 1979 by France, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Then in 1995 it was in Madrid that the name euro was agreed as the name for the new European common currency, which was successfully launched in civil society beginning in January 2002.

Moreover, Spain strengthened its commitment to further integration in June 1991 by signing the Schengen Agreement, which brought the steady elimination of border controls between Member States, as part of the concept of a Border-Free Europe.

José Manuel Albares together with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, at the meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers held in Brussels in November 2021. Photo: NOLSOM-MAUC.

The signature of the Treaty of Maastricht (1992) provided the European Union with its current name, as well as a road map towards a common currency. That same year, at the Edinburgh Summit the Member States launched the Cohesion Fund for projects involving the environment, transport infrastructure, and energy in countries with income levels lower than 90% of the EU average. Consequently, Spain obtained invaluable support for economic revitalization and regional development in addition to the other structural funds received.

Spain has played an active role in the construction of this European project, participating in the negotiation of the Treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2001), and Lisbon (2009), and the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (2004). Likewise, Spain has contributed to the development of different policies, with sustained contributions in such areas as citizenship, cohesion, cultural and linguistic diversity, judicial cooperation, and counterterrorism, as well as making its mark on external relations, especially in policies involving Latin America and the southern shore of the Mediterranean. 

Since its accession, Spain has also participated actively in developing and furthering the most important European policies: the Common Agricultural Policy; Common Fisheries Policy; internal market; energy and transport policies; industrial policies; and educational, cultural, and social policies. Furthermore, in recent years Spain has supported reorienting these policies in response to the greatest challenges of the 21st century: a Healthy EU able to respond to cross-border health crises; a just ecological transition for a sustainable circular economy; environmentally responsible agricultural and fisheries policies; a strong social policy that promotes decent living conditions for all; a gender equality policy that serves as a model for the world; a secure digital transition that leaves no one behind; and an inclusive industrial policy that promotes innovation, competitiveness, and European strategic autonomy. 

Spain will continue to promote the EU becoming a truly global actor, with positive frameworks for its relations with the international community to promote its values and interests in such varied areas as human rights, free trade, and technical and scientific development. 

A full Economic and Monetary Union and a Capital Markets Union constitute two of the fundamental pillars of advancing towards a consolidation of the European project. To achieve this, establishing the common currency was a major step forward; still pending is the achievement of full tax harmonization with fair and transparent rules.

 José Manuel Albares, together with his European counterparts, at the informal Gymnich meeting held in Brest (France) in January 2022. Photo: NOLSOM-MAUC​

The process in which the EU is immersed has been affected by new challenges and recent events. On the basis of the lessons learned from the economic and financial crisis of 2008, the EU has been able to show solidarity by providing an immediate joint response to the worldwide Covid-19 health crisis, which had an unequal impact on the different European economies.

To that end, the EU designed a comprehensive Recovery Plan totalling more than 2 trillion euros, comprising the 806.9 billion-euro Next Generation EU instrument, with the rest of the funds going to the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

Minister José Manuel Albares, together with the ambassadors of the different European countries accredited in Spain. Photo: NOLSOM-MAU​C

Spain is one of the principal beneficiaries of the Recovery Plan, which aims to promote growth and jobs for economic recovery, with the digital transformation and green transition as its priorities.

The financial forecasts for 2021-2027 have taken these circumstances into account, emphasising the need to reduce disparities between the Member States and their different regions. Specifically, the cohesion policy, with 372.6 billion euros (EU27 current prices) in the MFF, aims to promote social and territorial economic cohesion, leaving no one behind. Historically, this has been the most relevant MFF policy; indeed, the current funding represents 30.76% of the entire MFF, out of which Spain has been pre-allocated 35.4 million euros.

Spain will, for the fifth time, assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the second half of 2023. This represents a new opportunity to promote, together with our European partners, the ambitious EU agenda and goals. 


​​Related documentation

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