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Other types of cooperation

Other types of cooperation

Police cooperation

Cooperation between police forces, particularly in the fight against terrorism, continues to produce excellent results, as France’s Minister of the Interior Manual Valls was keen to point out during a visit to Madrid on 24 May 2013. Terrorist organisation ETA has been weakened as a result of arrests made in both Spain and France. In 2011, 48 individuals with links to ETA were detained (27 of them in France). On 20 October 2011, ETA issued a statement announcing the ending of its armed struggle after 43 years of violence. The statement made no mention, however, of any plans to dissolve the movement or to turn in its arms. The repatriation of Basque prisoners (559 in Spanish prisons, 140 in prisons in France) remains one of the independence movement’s priority demands. Another facet of police cooperation focuses on combating the risk of Islamist terrorism. Spain is faced with the same type of threat as France (AQIM) and is taking steps to counter the growing radicalisation of the country’s Muslim community.

Cross-border cooperation

In matters of cross-border cooperation, interconnections are a key political and economic issue for Spain:

-  Rail infrastructure: on the Mediterranean side, the 44 km high-speed rail link between Perpignan and Figueras, a key section of the Madrid-Barcelona-Paris line, came into service in January 2011. Perpignan and Figueras are now directly linked via the 8 km cross-border Perthus tunnel, resulting in a 70% increase in traffic. Extension work on the Spanish side was completed early in 2013, and Perpignan is now potentially just 50 minutes from Barcelona by rail. The opening of the Perpignan-Barcelona high-speed line (LGV) is scheduled for November 2013. On the Atlantic side, construction on the Spanish side of the projected Dax-Vitoria high-speed line is already well advanced. The projected line of route from Bordeaux to the border was established at the end of March 2012, with plans to launch the public enquiry in 2013. A report by France’s "Mobility 21" parliamentary commission, however, has recommended postponing implementation of the French end of the project until after 2030.

-  Power: very high voltage (VHV) line: this involves laying an underground DC line on the Mediterranean side (40 km in France and 25 km in Spain) to double the power exchange capacity between the two countries. Tunnelling work began in January 2012 and will continue until the end of 2013. The entire system is scheduled to power up at the end of 2013 before going into full commercial service at the end of 2014.

-  Gas: Spain’s structural overcapacity in gas means the country needs to export northwards the gas it imports from the south and via its six LNG terminals (out of a total of 16 in Europe). On the Atlantic side, the Larrau and Biriatou gas pipelines will be upgraded, in 2013 and 2015 respectively, to a capacity of 7.5 billion cubic metres, equivalent to 15% of France’s total gas consumption and 18% of Spain’s. The gas transport arms of Total and GDF will be investing some €500 million in the project.

Sea highways: the Nantes-Gijon (Asturias) sea highway, operated by French shipping firm Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, was opened in September 2010 and is now exceeding its initial traffic forecasts. There are plans for a second sea highway linking Vigo (Galicia) to Algeciras, Saint-Nazaire and Le Havre, which could come into service as early as 2013.

Updated on 13.09.13

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