BECOMING LESS EUROPEAN

As I heard a British diplomat comment long ago, Spaniards believe in Europe because they do not believe in their own institutions. Spaniards prefer the guarantee of acting sensibly being imposed from outside.
Andrés Ortega, Real Instituo Elcano, June 9th, 2015
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or Spain, being part of Europe has been an instrument of change: even if it did not add anything to democracy, it has enhanced the rule of law. The EU became the main lever to modernise Spain. The country has participated ever since in all stages of the progress towards European integration. The EU was the best mechanism to reform Spain, introduce VAT, liberalise sectors of the economy, count on reliable statistics and so on. Shared sovereignty is a way of preventing abuses and excesses: it is a guarantee. But it was no impediment to colossal mistakes like the construction and financial bubbles. Today such a situation would be less likely to occur since bank supervision, mistrusted at the national level, has now been transferred to the European Central Bank. Meanwhile, Monetary Union has become an institution for fiscal discipline constraining public expenditure. Spanish economic policies are framed by the parameters set in the Eurozone. This poses a problem for democracy, since an important part of national democracy is becoming void without being replaced by more European democracy.

As a result the EU’s popularity in Spain is being eroded. Perhaps Europe is becoming too small for Spain and other European countries, including Germany. It remains the main destination and origin of Spain’s foreign trade, but to a lesser degree than before. Spanish exports to the rest of the EU have declined from 70% to 60% of the total, due to the continental crisis. Inevitably, this means that by becoming more global, Spain (and its partners) are becoming less European.

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BECOMING LESS EUROPEAN

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