The European Commission calls for dialogue and demands that Algeria reverse the suspension of trade with Spain, as it has informed the Spanish Government and a community spokesperson has made public.

The EU considers the decision adopted on Wednesday afternoon by Algeria “extremely worrying” and is “studying the details”, but believes that it is still “too early to pronounce” with so many unknowns on the table. The North African government, very upset by Pedro Sánchez’s decisions regarding Morocco and the Sahara, has announced the unilateral suspension of the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborhood and Cooperation with Spain, but the practical implications go far beyond bilateral relations. The European Commission does not have many powers in pure Foreign Policy, beyond the representation in the hands of the high representative Josep Borrell, but on the other hand it has almost all the commercial powers. It is Brussels that negotiates with third countries, it is in charge of looking after the interests of the 27 and it may be the one that has to call Algiers to order due to the implications of its punishment of Moncloa.

“The Algerian decision to suspend the Friendship Agreement with Spain is extremely worrying for us. We ask you to review your decision. Algeria is an important partner in the Mediterranean, a key player in the stability of the region. We are studying the impact of the decision and seeking diplomatic channels and working with Spain to find a solution,” the European Commission’s Foreign Affairs spokeswoman assured on Thursday.

The head of Communications, Eric Mamer, has highlighted the “concern” in the house and reiterated that Ursula von der Leyen and the Foreign Action Service commanded by Borrell are “always ready to provide assistance”, but has explained that for At the moment, all references to “dialogue and diplomatic channels” are limited to both countries. There is no request for the moment to the community institutions to intervene, but there is an exchange of information to understand the political, diplomatic and economic scope of the announcement.

“Toco took place yesterday, we are trying to gauge the impact of the decision. We need time to reflect and analyze the Algerian announcement, we do not have more information or details yet at this time,” they reiterate in the Commission, stressing that “the commercial ones are European competences , that defines the framework in which we operate and analyze what happened also from the commercial point of view. But we have not received anything from the Algerian authorities about what they foresee in practice, “the spokespersons have settled.

There is plenty of recent history on trade issues, from Donald Trump’s banned olives to tariff issues. It is the Commission that talks to third countries, that exerts pressure or that can appeal to the World Trade Organisation. There has been a community-level agreement with Algeria for 17 years and it cannot be broken by actively discriminating against one party.

The Government seeks the support of the European Union in the face of the harsh blow received from Algeria and is studying denouncing the Maghreb country to Brussels for violating a European agreement. Government sources confirm to this newspaper that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is already working on evaluating a possible violation by Algeria of the 2005 Euro-Mediterranean Agreement. By unilaterally suspending Algeria’s Treaty of Friendship with a member country of the EU or, worse still, ordering the Algerian bank that freezes commercial operations between the two countries, may contravene, according to the Government, the aforementioned community agreement.

It is the one that links the European Union and Algeria in an association to, among other objectives, “develop exchanges, guarantee the expansion of balanced economic and social relations between the Parties and set the conditions for the progressive liberalization of exchanges of goods , services and capitals”. Among other articles that, theoretically, both parties must comply with is article 17, which establishes that “quantitative restrictions and measures of equivalent effect applicable to imports or exports in trade between Algeria and the Community will be abolished as of the entry in force of this Agreement”. Or also 38: “The Parties undertake to authorize, in freely convertible currencies, all current payments related to current transactions.”

For now, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, reported this Thursday that the Government is analyzing the consequences of Algeria’s decision to freeze foreign trade with Spain and will give a “serene, constructive, but firm” response in favor of Spanish interests.

Albares has advanced that response in statements to journalists after Algeria decided to suspend the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborhood and Cooperation with Spain and that Algerian banks have frozen direct debits related to foreign trade operations of products and services from and towards Spain.

The head of Spanish diplomacy already regretted on Wednesday the Algerian decision to suspend the treaty between the two countries and said he did not fear retaliation in energy matters because Algeria is a reliable partner. The Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, has expressed for his part on Antena 3 that the Government “regrets” the Algerian reaction, but has insisted on the desire not to enter into a spiral.

After these statements, it became known that the Professional Association of Banks and Financial Establishments (ABEF) of Algeria ordered the freezing of direct debits.

Albares has referred to that decision to explain that the Government is analyzing its implications both in Spain and in the European Union (a job that it believes will be completed this Thursday) to give “the appropriate response,” reports Efe. “A serene, constructive response, but also firm in defending the interests of Spain and Spanish companies,” he stressed.

The minister reiterated the Government’s desire to have the best relations with Algeria and its adherence to the entire content of the bilateral Friendship Treaty, which he recalled includes the sovereign equality of States and non-interference in internal affairs.

Asked if the freezing of trade could affect the supply of gas from Algeria to Spain, he insisted that what it means in practice is being studied, but he stressed that this gas flow “does not present any inconvenience at this time”.

“What the gas companies tell us is that there is no difficulty regarding this measure so that this continues to be the case”, he added.

Albares has recalled the words of the president of Algeria, Abdelmadijd Tebboune, in which on April 24 he guaranteed the supply of gas to Spain.

The minister did not want to reveal if there have been diplomatic contacts between Spain and Algeria after knowing the decision of this country and has appealed to discretion.

More forceful has been the third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, who warned this Thursday that if the diplomatic tensions with Algeria end up affecting the gas supply from that country, Spain will go to court and to international arbitration mechanisms, reports Servimedia.

“I am confident that this will continue to function as it is,” Ribera said in an interview on Onda Cero, where he explained that the gas supply from that country is included in commercial contracts between the Algerian company Sonatrach and Spanish companies.

He assured that “we have great respect for the Algerian government”, adding that “we don’t like” that it has decided to break the treaty of good friendship. For this reason, he has indicated that “we are open to recovering this relationship as soon as possible, but we also want to have a good relationship with Morocco”.

In fact, he has argued that the poor relationship between Morocco and Algeria “is their problem that should not affect the good relationship between Spain and each of them.”

For his part, the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, has said that the friendship treaty has not been broken, but has been suspended, just as other decisions made by the Algerian country have not been final.

“You have to differentiate between breaking the treaty, denouncing it as it is technically said and suspending it. Just like other decisions they made at the time, let’s say they are not final decisions,” he transferred in an interview on Antena 3, reports Europa Press.

Bolaños has assured that they will continue working with all the diplomatic means at their disposal to restore the friendship treaty “as soon as possible.” “We want to have a normalized, loyal relationship and that is where we are”, he added, while pointing out that the geostrategic situation of Spain with respect to Morocco and Algeria is different from that of other countries of the European Union.

In relation to gas supply, the minister stressed that Algeria has always been a reliable partner, as the Algerian authorities have stated, saying that “(gas) is not at risk in any case”.

He has also pointed out that they have no “indication” that the gas supply is going to be questioned and, immediately afterwards, he has assured that they have their hand outstretched to rebuild the relationship.

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