Thursday, February 22

Germany seeks to involve Spain in the construction of a European anti-missile shield

President Pedro Sánchez (left) and Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz, during their meeting on August 30 in the German town of Meseberg. / t. schwarz / afp

The Government denies, in full controversy with Podemos over defense spending, that there is a formal proposal and that the matter is part of the issues to be dealt with officially at the bilateral summit held this Wednesday in La Coruña

The German Chancellor, Olan Scholz, is in favor of creating a European air defense system that will make it possible to face the Russian threat and is willing for his country to lead the initiative, as he announced on August 29 in Prague. However, he is still looking for allies among European partners. Spain may be one of them and the matter will plan on the High Level Meeting that the two countries celebrate this Wednesday in La Coruña, the first in almost a decade. The matter is delicate for the coalition government, which this week has seen tensions intensify due to Pedro Sánchez’s commitment to increase defense spending by 2% until 2028, already reflected in the 2023 Budgets.

At Moncloa they deny for the moment that the issue will be officially on the table and they assure that it is not part of the documentation that both countries have exchanged in recent weeks to prepare for the bilateral summit. However, the German ambassador in Madrid, María Margarete Gosse, admitted Tuesday night on the Ser channel that “surely” the issue will be addressed by her country and that there have already been two meetings in Berlin, although not to high level. “We are probing,” she said after ‘El Confidencial’ and ‘El País’ published information about Scholz’s plans.

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Last March, barely a month after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the German chancellor already warned that Spain should have a defensive system similar to the Iron Dome or the Israeli Arrow 3. “We must be aware,” he said, “that we have a neighbor who is willing to use violence to enforce his interests.” In mid-September, the Prime Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, confirmed that the acquisition of this system that allows missiles to be intercepted outside the atmosphere was already being negotiated.

Other objectives

In the Ministry of Defense they insist, in any case, that until now, Germany has not approached Spain to suggest its participation, although they do not rule out that the issue may end up being raised. The objectives of the Government in the Spanish-German summit are others. Sánchez wants Scholz to support the proposal to limit the price of gas throughout Europe, something to which he has so far been reluctant. He also wants the meeting to serve to reaffirm the commitment of both countries to increase gas interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe, in the face of French rejection, and to discuss the modification of the EU spending rules once the suspension in force since the pandemic is lifted.

The three vice presidents will participate in the meeting – the Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño; Labor, Yolanda Díaz, and Energy Transition, Teresa Ribera-, in addition to the Foreign Ministers, José Manuel Albares; Defense, Margarita Robles; Industry, Reyes Maroto; Agriculture, Luis Planas and Universities, Joan Subirats. It is expected that at the end of the meeting several agreements on social and labor matters will be signed, as well as a declaration of intent on higher education and training.

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