The Domestic Basis of Spanish European Policy and the 2002 Presidency
European Studies No. 16, Notre Europe
65 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2009
Date Written: December 1, 2001
Spain will hold the EU Presidency in 2002 for the third time since the country’s accession. The international and domestic context has changed considerably since the two previous occasions, as well as the shape, rhythms and priorities of the European Union itself. The European scene is currently dominated by two issues. On the one hand, the reform of the EU planned for 2004 may represent an irrevocable step towards “Constitutionalisation”, while on the other the events of September 11th have had a decisive impact on the Union’s outlook. Spain and the Spanish government have not remained untouched by either factor, which have conditioned its European policy. Nevertheless, political debate, especially concerning the future of the EU, has been scarcely audible, not to say altogether silent. This paper will seek to explain the reasons for the feebleness of domestic debate about the EU by revealing the underlying basis of Spain’s European policy. This will require consideration of various dimensions including public attitudes and opinion towards Europe and, above all, the discourse of Spanish political parties. These topics form the subject of the first half of this study. The second half discusses the programme for the Presidency within the framework of an implicit comparison with the previous terms in which Spain has held office in order to discern the continuities and/or breaks that might typify a “Spanish stance”.
Keywords: European politics, Spanish politics, international relations, European integration, presidency
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