October 20, 2020

Sánchez’s complex departure for Spain to regain international weight




This week will be key to the international aspirations of the Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, and the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño. This Wednesday the applications to head the WTO (World Trade Organization) and González Laya could emerge as the sole European candidate for the post and on Thursday the successor to the still Portuguese Finance Minister will be chosen, Mario Rye, at the head of the Eurogroup, a post to which his Spanish counterpart aspires. Two opportunities for Spain to regain part of the international weight lost during the 2008 crisis.

Specifically, in positions of high responsibility at the international level, only two figures stand out: that of another former Spanish Foreign Minister: Josep Borrell, who currently holds the post of EU High Representative and Vice President, and that of the former Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos, Vice President of the ECB. In the most recent past, the former minister Javier Solana he got to direct NATO (1995-1999) and the extitular one of Education and Science (1981-1982) Federico Mayor Zaragoza he was director general of Unesco (1987-1999), among other milestones. Even the former president of the Congress of Deputies, Manuel Marín (who died in 2017) held the presidency of the European Commission between July 20 and September 1999 after the resignation of Jacques Santer. Sánchez must play his cards well so that the two opportunities that open do not end in frustration.

Eurogroup: the north-south wound

A priori, the most feasible objective is to place Nadia Calviño in the Eurogroup presidency – Guindos was resisted on two occasions – and that this position remains in the hands of a politician from southern Europe. Its main strength lies in its curriculum vitae that reflects a long career in Brussels dating back to 2006- she has been director general of the Community Budget of the European Commission between 2014 and 2018 as well as director general of the Internal Market between 2010 and 2014- as well as the weight of her main supporter: the German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the presidency of the community club this semester.

“It is not a secret that Nadia Calviño is a candidate who also has support in the German government,” said the German leader in an interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung in late June, who added that the final decision will rest with the finance ministers. of the Eurozone. Calviño needs the support of the simple majority of his counterparts for a term of two and a half years. Centeno has chaired this body since December 2017.

However, the path to the presidency is not going smoothly: Along with Calviño, the Minister of Finance of Luxembourg, the liberal, is competing for the same position. Pierre Gramgegna and the Irish Paschal Donohoe, of the conservative Fine Gael, who has emerged strengthened within the new coalition that governs the island. Furthermore, this choice involves other variables regardless of technical value – which has been praised outside and within Spain by political rivals such as the popular Javier Maroto and MEP Luis Garicano – such as political family (socialists, liberals, conservatives) or the division between the so-called “frugal” countries (Holland, Austria, Sweden and Denmark) and southern Europe.

But the main stumbling block to Calviño’s aspirations is in the delicate situation of the Spanish economy, after the tsunami represented by Covid-19- on Tuesday the European Commission revealed that it estimates that Spain’s GDP will plummet 10.9% this year- and the reality that it will be one of the countries most benefited by aid which must already be approved by Europe. The management carried out by Sánchez of the pandemic, and some behaviors of the junior partner of the Podemos coalition, do not help either. Specifically, Calviño deactivated the pact they signed in Congress

The prestigious publication “Politician” dared on July 1 to estimate that the Spanish would have the support of Germany, Greece, Italy and Portugal while Irish Donohoe would have the vote of the conservative ministers of Austria, Cyprus, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia, while Gramegna would have the vote of Belgium and Holland. In the field of the undecided would be Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania and Malta. The answer: Thursday.

Glez Laya: a trade expert for the WTO

It seems more difficult for Europe to unite around the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, to fight for the general direction of the WTO (World Trade Organization) after the surprising resignation of the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo who will leave the post on August 31 with the institution in full crisis and with its main body of conflict resolution blocked, for the US refusal to appoint new judges.

However, as in the case of Nadia Calviño, González Laya is endorsed by her professional career: the WTO is very familiar to her since the current minister acted as chief of staff to the director general of this organization between 2005 and 2013, the French Pascal Lamy. She has subsequently been UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the International Trade Center (CMO) between 2013 and this year, when she was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He faces several candidates: the Mexican Jesús Seade, the Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Egyptian Abdel -Hamid Mamdouh, the Moldovan Tudor Ulianovschi and the South Korean Yoo Myung-hee. The handicap that a candidate from the European bloc already holds the maximum responsibility of a relevant international body: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), now chaired by the Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva, could also be an obstacle.

But most striking have been the words of the interested party this Tuesday during the press conference with her Swedish counterpart. When asked about an eventual candidacy to lead the WTO, González Laya replied that the Executive is focused on promoting aspirations. “A brilliant Spanish” to preside over the Eurogroup, Nadia Calviño.


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