1) Spain, a strategic partner of France.
Franco-Spanish relations, in addition to geographic evidence, draw deeply from a shared history, for better or worse, for centuries. In the history/geography/human relations triptych, the two countries have in fact built over the past 50 years an intense bilateral relationship nourished and enriched by a common commitment to the European construction service, making in France a mirror of Spain, and in the latter an echo of France.
Over time, and in the name of their well-understood national interests, the two countries have invested in and strengthened all the rooms of their bilateral relations: ideal police and judicial cooperation established in the fight , which became common in the 1990s, against terrorism through ETA, educational, university, scientific and cultural cooperation brought to the highest level of excellence, economic relations that make France the main trading partner of Spain, one country where 2,000 subsidiaries of French companies, representing 300,000 jobs.
A common belonging to the Mediterranean world, a shared attachment to the European Union, and a shared belief in European values are the cement of this relationship that has developed over many decades of intense people-to-people exchanges. Beyond the tourist flows, which are calculated every year in the millions of visitors in both directions, there are no less than 150,000 French and almost 200,000 Spaniards living in one country, and as many as the day -day artisans of this bilateral. relationship.
2) A bilateral agreement for what?
. Before bringing order, draw a framework, determine a method and set a horizon. Let’s judge: Since the Treaty of the Pyrenees on November 7, 1659, signed by Louis XIV and Philippe IV, more than 370 agreements, treaties or conventions have been signed between France and Spain. This makes the Kingdom of Spain one of the countries in the world with which France has signed the largest number of bilateral agreements.
. To strengthen the management and general management of Franco-Spanish relations: cross-functionality, collective work, common roadmap for all players, forums dedicated to decisions and the coordination of public policies for mutually, definition of goals and timelines for implementation.
. To identify structural projects. In this part, and through examples, we can distinguish three of them:
Energy connections and crossing the Pyrenees,
Approval and implementation of bilateral agreements between the two nationalities
The joint responsibility of both parties regarding this shared treasure that is the Pyrenees which, more than 450 kilometers between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, at the same time a water tower, a unique source of biodiversity , a bulwark against global warming. mild climate, a major tourist center and close-knit residential areas.
. A link between the people of East and West, Europe and Africa, the Mediterranean is a structural protagonist of Franco-Spanish relations where it offers a geostrategic space of utmost importance. This space can be a melting pot of fruitful cooperation to deal with the challenges, many and heavy, that arise there especially, and to begin with, in the Maghreb which is a stone’s throw away.
Finally, the common membership of the two countries in the European Union has long been favored and more than now, the joint action of the two partners in all the major orientations of the EU, at a time when it that ci, faced with the consequences of the war in Ukraine, is in the process of rethinking itself on many levels, especially regarding its defense, its sovereigns or even its enlargement. Together with the Franco-Italian partnership, this European dimension of Franco-Spanish cooperation will have the opportunity to strengthen the challenge of Europe’s southern neighborhood.
3) What about local authorities?
Apart from or alongside the action of the State, local authorities have played a major role in the development of Franco-Spanish relations. Despite the dissymmetry of the perimeters of skills and resources between the French and Spanish regions, the territorial actors of and the other of the two countries have been for a long time, and more than the only cross-border that cooperation, in a compact intertwining. in cooperative relations.
On the French side, Occitania is clearly in the front line, but not only. Just to mention it, the southern Region, where the mark of Franco-Spanish history is strong, starting from what can be seen in its coat of arms, is concerned in many areas. Ports such as Barcelona, Valencia or Malaga will be able to echo the Mediterranean ambitions of Marseille, while the connections to the Mediterranean, the necessary solidarity in the face of climate change, as well as the many collective interest should enable others not only to approach but also to cooperate for the future of their territories. The variety of possibilities is huge: economic cooperation, tourism, industrial and scientific innovation, common fights for the environment and against global warming, cooperation with the third countries of the Mediterranean, etc. .
It seems that the time has come to give a new ambition and a new horizon to Franco-Spanish relations. A movement in this direction is necessary so that the two countries can cope with the great challenges that present themselves to Europe and that continue in the Mediterranean space. As the security, food, energy, migration, economic and climate crises follow each other and respond to each other, it is even more necessary to close the ranks of friends and trusted partners.
Since the Franco-Spanish Summit in Montauban (March 15, 2021), diplomats from Santa Cruz and the Quai d’Orsay have been working on it. They are doing useful work.
Bernard Valero: former Consul General in Barcelona, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Skopje, French Ambassador in Belgium, Managing Director of Avitem (Agency for Sustainable Mediterranean Cities and Territories) and spokesperson of the Quai d’Orsay