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Spain - the new Achilles heel of Europe?
Material posted: Publication date: 10-03-2018

The events of the fall of 2017 in Catalonia had a serious impact on the international credibility of Spain and caused economic uncertainty. As a result of attempted secession, in the country fell sharply, government bonds, investment projects in Catalonia were frozen. In 2018, Fitch ratings has assigned a rating of "A" of Spain, thereby increasing the past. Expected positive changes in the economy and other spheres of life.

The crisis in Catalonia can be seen as a reduced model of the division and contradictions within Spanish society. As shown, the struggle between separatists and the Spanish government was not the only battleground. Forty years after the beginning of democratic transition, before Spain still face issues of self-identity, respect for historical past and vision for the future.

Methods of the decision by the government to the question of Catalan independence has seriously shaken the image of Spain abroad. On the background of the conflict, was opened and a constitutional crisis, and questioned the independence of the judicial system of the country. The infringement of civil rights and liberties - one of the main issues involved.

Thus, human rights are actively protected by Spain on the international stage, being an important component of foreign policy. For the period 2018-2020 country is a member of the Council for human rights of the UN. The main priorities of the mission in Spain, the HRC considers the fight against racism, all forms of intolerance, the illicit movement of people and the struggle for gender equality and the rights of persons with disabilities.

Spain has held the post at the time when the country is just recovering from the economic crisis, in the Wake of the protests and problems in the protection of human rights, which are acute on the agenda. Of course, all of the provisions stated in the Council on human rights must be backed by real state of Affairs in their own country. Spain has ratified almost all treaties and optional protocols on protection of human rights (with the exception of the UN international Convention for the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families (2003)), however, the state does not cease to be the object of attention of the United Nations in this field.

The right to freedom of expression and peaceful Assembly of supporters of independence of Catalonia was extremely limited. Dozens of people prosecuted for "glorifying terrorism" and "insulting the victims" in social networks. During the riots the police officers unreasonably applied excessive force against demonstrators peacefully expressing their disagreement with the decision of the Supreme court to stop the referendum[1].

The critical attitude of the UN to the events in Catalonia based on the fact that the Spanish authorities have not facilitated an open dialogue between the parties, in contrast, chose the use of force against political disagreements.

After the referendum on independence in 2017, the Catalan separatists called on the European guide to international mediation of the situation, pointing to the violation of political and civil rights of the Spanish government. However, member countries of the European Union did not consider the current crisis an internal affair of Spain, in advocating the preservation of integrity and the application of appropriate constitutional measures to resolve the conflict. As a consequence, the opinion of the political forces of Europe, and the world's media were divided into: those who are opposed to secessionist initiatives, those who support the actions of Carles Pokdemon and its environment, and those who approves/disapproves of the action of the Spanish government.

The list of violations of human rights in Spain also includes the disproportionate use of counter-terrorism legislation, the widespread violence against women, impunity for crimes of the past (closure of the time of F. Franco), disrespect for the rights of migrants and refugees, etc. Despite the desire and ambition to play a more active role in the international arena, particularly in the UN, you first need to solve internal challenges facing the country.

Some media called Spain a time bomb for the European Union. It is connected with those areas that could be potential sources of crisis in the country, as well as to reduce stability in Europe:

  1. Inactive young people
  2. Bureaucracy
  3. Police service
  4. The judicial system
  5. Political system[2]

Also according to opinion polls, Spaniards are the main problems: unemployment, economic hardship, corruption, poor performance of politicians, the problems of health and education (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (2016)). The above 5 areas are correlated with survey data.

Motivation of young people in Spain is very low: 26% of young people neither working nor studying. The small percentage that finishing universities, want to go to work and live abroad. In Spain the high unemployment rate, the government's attempts to influence the situation, until brought few results. Stands a huge reservoir of young people, every day more and more dissatisfied with the economic and political situation in the country, which in turn leads to participation in mass demonstrations.

The decentralization of the country and granting broad autonomy to the regions has seriously hindered the implementation of control at all levels of government. The bloated apparatus of government employees reduces liability, increases bureaucracy and harms business efficiency, which in turn affects the economy of the European Union. Almost the same situation exists with police services: in Spain, there are more than 15 regional and national services that prevent timely resolution of tasks weakens the security of citizens.

Biggest issue is the independence of the judiciary as one of the fundamental democratic principles. In Spain the government and the judiciary are closely interlinked. As a consequence, any sentence imposed by the judge can be reversed by the Supreme court (in particular, used to protect politicians). This state of Affairs undermines the credibility of the government in the eyes of the population and the leadership of the European Union.

The appearance of the political sphere was heavily damaged in the result of the confrontational measures of the Central government and the Catalan independence fighters. The fact that the parties are unable to agree through dialogue and peacefully resolve the situation demonstrates the weakness of the whole system. Moreover, the ability of precedent in the face of the separation region poses a threat to the integrity of other European States.

The set of challenges facing Spain has gradually become a common problem of the European Union, require action. Positive changes in the economy should not become a cover for a huge range of issues in different spheres of life.


The Goth Girl Tatiana


[1] The Amnesty International Report 2017/18: Spain


Tags: assessment , Europe

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