Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Sanchez and Macron meet to sign a friendship treaty

BARCELONA ( Associated Press) – French President Emmanuel Macron met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Barcelona on Thursday to strengthen ties between the two European neighbors by signing a friendship treaty.

The one-day summit in Barcelona came amid a day of widespread strikes and protests in the Pyrenees against Macron’s proposed pension reform, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. Sánchez, as host, was put up with a noisy demonstration by Catalan separatists near the meeting place.

The Barcelona Pact signed by the leaders establishes working groups between their governments in various fields. The leaders and several of their ministers discussed issues including energy, migration and support for Ukraine’s war effort, with the aim of finding common cause to guide EU policy.

Speaking of the “historic” agreement, Sánchez said, “This friendship and cooperation treaty not only strengthens the two countries, but it is also strengthening our common project, which is Europe.”

Both the governments consider it a first class diplomatic link. Spain has a similar treaty only with Portugal; They have France along with Germany and Italy.

“We are going to comprehensively strengthen bilateral relations… and make it more efficient at the European level,” Macron said. “This treaty is also going to reinforce these common ideas,” particularly with regard to European sovereignty and strategic autonomy.

The leaders want to strengthen their position within the European Union. Macron is positioning himself as the continent’s most prominent politician to fill the gap for former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while Sanchez wants Spain to play a more influential role in Brussels after Britain leaves the European Union.

After years of cordial but sometimes distant relations between France and Spain, the two countries have recently become much closer.

Spain, France and Portugal have agreed to build a massive underwater pipeline to transport hydrogen from the Iberian Peninsula to France and at some point to the rest of Europe. The pipeline, called H2Med, will run from Barcelona to Marseille.

Macron and Sanchez also want European energy markets to be reformed to respond to the energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Spain also hopes that France may withdraw its call for the EU to extend the permission granted last year to Spain and Portugal to implement special measures to reduce energy prices, a move that A plan that could potentially serve as an inspiration for the whole of Europe.

“Both countries have presented our proposals, which I consider to be concrete and detailed, and they go in that direction. We are going to work together to make improvements in the coming months”, said Sánchez.

The meeting took place at the National Art Museum of Catalonia, in an old castle on the hill of Montjuïc, opposite Barcelona.

Several thousand Catalan separatists have demonstrated abroad in an attempt to revive their dwindling movement to create a new state in the northeastern Spanish region that borders France. Distant voices could be heard in the distance as Macron and Sánchez reviewed Spanish troops on their arrival before the national anthems of both countries were sung. Protesters block traffic on a motorway north of Barcelona.

With amnesty for jailed politicians from the failed 2017 secession attempt and recent legal reforms, Sánchez has invested a lot of political capital to ease the separatist crisis. While it has managed to ease tensions in Catalonia, there is still a staunch core of independents who are not throwing in the towel.

Nation World News Desk
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