On which axis is Spain?
First a few questions to frame the issue: why is our country lacking audacity? Why are we still immersed in an inferiority complex in terms of the prominence that we could have? Why do we assume that in order to preserve power it is lawful to make any kind of concessions, even if they seriously weaken that power or contradict its principles? Why is it very difficult to find examples of ethical behavior in our public life? Why don’t we give foreign policy the cultural, political and economic importance it has and isolate ourselves many times in our historical quarrels and in sterile comparative grievances?
Several axes have been operating in Europe for a long time. The oldest and most important is undoubtedly the Franco-German axis, which finally emerged to overcome a long period of confrontations and warlike conflicts, and which has led Europe sensibly, with consistency and a firm hand.
The absence of Angela Merkel will open a period of some uncertainty, but Sholz and Macron will not renounce to continue being the key axis of Europe, although this task will become increasingly difficult.
Mario Draghi, a banker with political and personal strength, has reacted quickly to be able to balance and moderate the power of Germany, trying to indirectly add himself to the Franco-German axis, signing a privileged cooperation pact with France, to which they will give the greatest visibility.
All of the above serves to try to answer the question that Spain is on and why we are always left out –except for some moments during the time of Felipe González– of the transformation and evolution of Europe when it is absolutely true that our country can contribute valid ideas to that process and many more connections with other countries than the vast majority of the rest. We must start to get out of this little lucid situation in which we are placed, and seek together with Portugal a much more important position, also asserting relations with Latin America and the African world, as any other European country would do if it had them. We can collaborate as much or more than Italy in immigration, trade, foreign affairs and also in security, investigation and in all matters related to culture.
But the immediate and vital issue is the role of Europe in a world in which China and the United States have more economic, technological and political power, and above all a single voice that we cannot find in Europe. Each country in our environment defends its positions taking into account its specific and temporary interests, and these games consume many of the efforts that it should urgently dedicate to find effective consensus.
Spain has to help raise the alarm and demand a minimum of dignity and pragmatism in the face of this growing weakness of a continent that, in addition to mediating between the two powers, should make its experience and values count in the world. Europe’s decline is not, and has never been, inevitable, but it is clear that without strong leadership setting realistic and attractive targets, we can easily start the process over again, at a time when multiple pandemics are sapping economic vitality. and delay a possible recovery. It is not the most appropriate time to fall asleep because the current is very strong and can take us –as Carlos Gardel warned– downhill on the shoot and lose all illusions. Let’s wake up!
Antonio Garrigues Walker
He is a jurist