Albares finalizes the dismissal of the Secretary of State for the EU | Spain

The Secretary of State for the EU, Juan González-Barba, during his appearance in Congress, in June 2020.
The Secretary of State for the EU, Juan González-Barba, during his appearance in Congress, in June 2020.BALLESTEROS (EFE)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, is finalizing the dismissal of the Secretary of State for the European Union, Juan González-Barba, in what constitutes the first crisis at the top of his department since he inherited the portfolio, last July , according to diplomatic sources. Contrary to usual, González-Barba did not accompany President Pedro Sánchez to the European Council last week in Brussels, which the ministry interprets as a sign of his imminent departure. According to the web The Objective, the high position would have asked his relief to the minister several weeks ago.

Diplomatic sources place the origin of the disagreements between the two in their different conception of how to conduct foreign policy. While the first would have imposed a single hierarchical line, the second would advocate giving greater autonomy to their area. The post of Secretary of State of the EU, which in many countries has the rank of minister, coordinates the relations of the different ministries with the Union and on more than one occasion has been occupied by politicians, such as the socialist Diego López Garrido or the popular Íñigo Méndez de Vigo.

González-Barba was appointed in February 2020 by the previous minister, Arancha González Laya, but Albares ratified it when he took over the ministry and formed his own team. The minister, a career diplomat, and the Secretary of State have known each other for years and the former worked under the latter when González-Barba was in charge of the General Directorate for the Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East; and Albares was deputy director. However, the relationship between the two deteriorated, according to diplomatic sources, because Albares (who was responsible for relations with the EU in La Moncloa in 2018 and 2020 and ambassador in Paris until last July) has very clear ideas about the policy. to follow and does not leave the room for maneuver that the Secretary of State demands. In recent times, González-Barba, one of the three deputy foreign ministers, has had less and less public exposure.

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The change occurs in the middle of negotiations between the European Commission and the United Kingdom on Gibraltar’s future relations with the EU. The two parties had given each other until December 31 to reach an agreement that would translate into a treaty the pact reached between London and Madrid last New Year’s Eve, but they have already assumed that the deadline will not be met. After the visit that the new British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, made to Madrid on the 15th, the two governments agreed “to conclude these talks in the first quarter of 2022.” González-Barba’s Secretary of State is also a key piece in preparing the current Spanish Presidency of the EU, in the second half of 2023.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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