Politics, Europe

Spain’s foreign minister takes emergency trip to Brussels to discuss Algeria crisis

Jose Manuel Albares makes last-minute decision to cancel his trip to Summit of Americas in US

Alyssa McMurtry   | 10.06.2022
Spain’s foreign minister takes emergency trip to Brussels to discuss Algeria crisis

OVIEDO, Spain 

Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Manuel Albares canceled his trip to the Summit of Americas in the US for an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss the crisis with Algeria.

On Wednesday, Algeria announced it was freezing trade with Spain and suspending a two-decade-old friendship and cooperation treaty.

Spain’s alignment with Morocco over the independence of Western Sahara is behind the major diplomatic rift.

On Thursday, European Union officials asked Algeria to reconsider its move, saying they were “extremely worried” by the situation.

Albares on Friday is meeting with European Commission Vice-President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.

“What’s true is that our trade relations are not national, they are European. That’s why it’s logical for the minister to travel to Brussels today,” Spanish Finance Minister Nadia Calvino said in an interview on Friday.

The halt in trade is already affecting Spanish companies, which exported €482 million ($511 million) worth of goods and services to Algeria in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the Spanish Trade Ministry figures.

Spain also relies heavily on Algeria, its second-largest supplier of natural gas, for its energy supply.

So far, the gas continues to flow, but experts say Algeria could increase the price or refuse to renew contracts once they expire.

Just over two weeks ago, Italy and Algeria signed a new gas deal to boost gas exploration. In April, the two nations also announced that Algeria will be increasing gas supply to Italy, as the country seeks to wean itself off Russian gas.

On Thursday, leading Spanish daily El Pais reported that Spanish government officials are mulling formally denouncing Algeria to the European Union for breaking a 2005 EU-Mediterranean agreement.

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