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Jorge Lafuente gives a seminar on the negotiating team of the entrance of Spain in the EEC.

The talk was organized by the group of research in Recent History.

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Jorge Lafuente del Cano, Professor at the University of Valladolid and member of GIHRE PHOTO: Courtesy
25/04/16 12:30

Last April 14, the group of research in Recent History (GIHRE) of the University of Navarra organized the seminar "The negotiating team of the entrance of Spain in the EEC 1978-1982".

On speaker, Jorge Lafuente del Cano, professor at the University of Valladolid and member of the GIHRE, addressed part of his doctoral thesis , focused on the figure of Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo and his relationship with Europe, whose main documentary source was the file staff of the former president. He focused specifically on the creation of Spain's first negotiating team with the European Economic Community after the request for accession presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in July 1977.

The intervention began with the creation, in 1978, of a new administrative body - the Ministry for Relations with the European Communities -which was to pilot the whole process. The President of the Government, Adolfo Suárez had several alternatives, but he opted for the appointment of a Minister without portfolio assistant to the the Presidency. The head of that first Ministry was one of the names that appeared recurrently in the seminar: Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo. A civil engineer and businessman for 25 years, he was a minister in the first Government of the Monarchy and in the first Executive of Suarez. knowledge The latter appointed him as negotiator, for various reasons, such as his technical solvency, his language skills and his old Europeanist ideal.

Calvo-Sotelo then had the opportunity to create his own team from scratch. The key to its configuration resided in a small issue of people, of eminent technical character, who would serve both to prepare the negotiation and to coordinate the position of all the Spanish ministries. Less than 30 people made up the initial team of the "Trinidad" (at reference letter the Trinidad Palace, seat of the Ministry), mostly young people and civil servants. The team also showed a certain ideological plurality, with prominent socialist representatives, such as Pedro Solbes and Carlos Westendorp, who would occupy ministerial responsibilities years later. Other of the minister's main collaborators were Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, current vice-president of Banco Santander, who was mainly involved in economic issues, and Luis Sánchez Merlo, link political advisor to the Ministry.

The main tasks of this first negotiating team were described below. Its first task was to prepare the Spanish position on the main technical issues that were to be at the center of the negotiations with the Common Market, a negotiation that was officially opened on February 5, 1979.

In addition, since the creation of the Ministry, a pedagogical task was started to explain to the Spanish people exactly what the EEC consisted of: how, when, where and why Spain was going to apply for its adhesion. The members of the negotiating team traveled throughout Spain for several years to explain these issues to political, economic, business and journalistic representatives, as well as to the general public.

Later Lafuente stopped in September 1980: with the last reshuffle of the Government of Adolfo Suárez, the original negotiating team was dispersed: some of its members accompanied Calvo-Sotelo in his new task as Vice-President of the Government, others remained in the Trinidad under the orders of the new Minister, Eduardo Punset, and others left politics. Punset's period was marked by two events: the influence of the "giscardazo" (June 1980), i.e. the French veto to negotiate the agricultural issue with Spain until the internal problems of the Community were solved, as well as the bad relationship with Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, who tried to watch over the steps of his successor at the head of the negotiation.

Finally, in February 1981 , the last stage of the negotiating team during the UCD period began. Calvo-Sotelo became President of the Government and decided to dissolve the Ministry for Relations with the European Communities. He returned to Foreign Affairs that skill, creating a administrative office of State. From then on, the Secretary of State Raimundo Bassols, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Pedro Pérez-Llorca, led the negotiation with the supervision of the President. This was the stage in which several chapters of the negotiation were closed, but the task could not be completed, which concluded years later with the Socialist negotiating team.

With all this, speaker offered an overview of the creation of that historic first negotiating team, its approaches, its achievements, its unfinished tasks, to conclude by pointing out the importance of people, not only in making history, but also in narrating it.