Other types of cooperation
Other types of cooperation
Police cooperation, and specifically the fight against terrorism, continues to give very good results.
It is based primarily on twice-yearly meetings between the directors general of the French and Spanish police, in the framework of a strategic planning and coordination committee on internal security. ETA’s weak state is the result of arrests made in both Spain and France. In 2011, 48 people connected to ETA were taken in for questioning (including 27 in France). On 20 October 2011, ETA released a statement announcing the definitive termination of its armed activities after 43 years of violence. Even so, this statement does not announce the dissolution of the group or the rendering of weapons. The geographic rapprochement of the Basque prisoners (559 prisoners in Spain, 140 in France) is still one of the key demands of the Basque independence movement.
The fight against the Islamist threat is another focus of our cooperation. In this area, Spain is facing the same type of threat as France (AQMI) and is endeavouring to counter the rising radicalization within Spain’s Muslim community.
In the area of cross-border cooperation, the interconnections are a major political and economic issue for Spain: on the Mediterranean side, the extension of the TGV (high-speed train) to Barcelona in early 2013, and on the Atlantic side, the commissioning of a second sea- highway (truck transport by sea) between Le Havre and Vigo (Galicia).
Mediterranean side: the Perpignan-Figueras high speed link, which is 44 km long and the key element in the Madrid-Barcelona-Paris link, was inaugurated in January 2011. Accordingly, Perpignan and Figueras are connected nonstop through an 8 km cross-border tunnel at Perthus, making it possible to increase traffic 70%. The extension work on the Spanish side is expected to be completed by early 2013, and Perpignan will then have a nonstop connection to Barcelona in 50 minutes, which will put Barcelona 4 hours and 20 minutes from Lyons. The SNCF and RENFE must then operate the high-speed trains between our two countries on this main road together, through a Eurostar-type joint venture.
Atlantic side: the “Dax-Vitoria” high-speed rail line project is in an advanced construction phase on the Spanish side. The Bordeaux-border route was defined in late March 2012, with an objective of launching the public inquiry in 2013. The objective is to activate the international rail section between our two countries by 2020. Nevertheless, this will take some work convincing the local Basque France populations.
The central Pyrenees crossing by the Pau-Canfranc (Aragon, northeast Spain) railway line is a political project supported by King Juan Carlos, who believes that ties between Spain and Europe cannot depend only on Spain’s two most independent regions (Basque Country and Catalonia). This is not as much in France’s interest. The Spanish government intends to defend the studies of the central crossing project between now and 2020, with the Commission and with France.
Sea-Highways: the Nantes-Gijon (Asturias) sea-highway, operated by France’s Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, was inaugurated in September 2010. Its use has exceeded expectations. A second sea-highway departing Vigo (Galicia) is being planned to serve Algesiras, Saint-Nazaire and Le Havre. Its commissioning is possible in the second half of 2012.
Electricity interconnections: extra high voltage (EHV) line: this is the construction on the Mediterranean façade of a buried direct current line (40 km in France and 25 km in Spain) that will make it possible to double the electricity exchange capacity between the two countries. The total cost of the project is 700 million euros. Tunnelling work for the line began in January 2012 and will continue through the end of 2013. The entire thing is scheduled to be activated in late 2013, for commercial implementation in late 2014.
Gas interconnections: Spain, which has a structural gas overcapacity, needs to re-export to the North the gas it imports from the South and its six LNG terminals (out of the 16 in Europe). This is why, on the Atlantic side, the Larrau and Biriatou gas pipelines will be reinforced in 2013 and 2015, respectively, to reach a capacity of 7.5b m3, or 15% of French consumption and 18% of Spanish consumption. Total and GDF’s transport companies are going to invest nearly EUR 500M in it.
Updated on 04.09.12
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