View from Madrid: Strengthening joint working

Spain's lack of xenophobic parties has meant that the refugee crisis has so far escaped being linked with terrorism

Spain has a long experience with terrorism in its two main varieties. First, home grown (mainly Basque ETA but also far-left groups like GRAPO), and second, jihadist (the 2004 bombings in Atocha station, which took 191 lives, remain the largest attack so far by number of victims). In both cases, international cooperation (especially with border countries like France and Morocco), together with good quality intelligence, police, and judicial capabilities, have proven that terrorism can be successfully fought and even defeated. The Brussels attacks have reinforced the narrative about the need to strengthen counter-terrorism capabilities at the EU level.

After the Paris attacks Spain contributed new personnel to strengthen Europol counter-terrorism capabilities (the so-called Fraternité taskforce). Now, Spain is also in favour of a swift conclusion of the PNR (passenger name record) agreement, the anti-radicalisation strategy and the measures to counter the trade of illicit weapons. Spain also supports the March 11 decision to harmonise the penal codes of member states when it comes to terrorist crimes.

Contrary to the UK and other EU member states, Spain lacks anti-EU, far-right or xenophobic parties. There is consensus in Spain on the fact that the refugee crisis has nothing to do with terrorism and therefore the Brussels attack don’t play in favour of any of the political parties. Rather, the attacks strengthen Europe and European cooperation. Jihadist terrorism will not be defeated at the national level: pooling sovereignty and intelligence is the way forward.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.


Head, ECFR Madrid
Senior Policy Fellow

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