La Vigie Nr 189 : European strategy in disarray | De-globalisation? | Lorgnette: Spain and Sahara

Letter from La Vigie dated 16 March 2022

European strategy in disarray

The European Union’s new strategic compass claims to be ambitious. In reality, the ambition is not very great and, above all, the needle of the compass is unfortunately stuck: it only points to the West.

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The war in Ukraine is having a deleterious effect at the global level: Europe seems to have fallen into the ways of the past, the United States remains ambiguous, the emerging countries look at the crisis with mistrust, while China is benefiting. A de-globalisation is underway which marks the marginalisation of Europe.

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Lorgnette: Spain and Sahara

Spain had remained neutral since it abandoned its settlement in the former Spanish Sahara. Morocco then launched the Green March and conquered the territory, provoking the ire of Algiers. Last week, the Spanish government came out of its reserve and recognised “‘the Moroccan autonomy initiative’ as the most solid basis for ending the dispute, in contrast to the Saharawi demand for a referendum on self-determination.

There are several reasons for this reversal: on the one hand, the migratory pressure in Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves. As long as Madrid wants to keep control of them, it must agree with Rabat to subcontract migration control to it. On the other hand, Spain’s allies (France, Germany, but also the United States) are on this line. Finally, Spain is geographically closer to Morocco than to Algeria, even if the latter provides (used to provide?) gas.)

It is therefore a bold choice made by Madrid, which nevertheless surprises by the timing of its announcement. One last point: Algiers’ anger marks Algeria’s loss of international influence, a process that has been underway for a long time and is still growing.

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photo credit: Clingendael

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