Spain in the European Union
On January 1 1986 Spain entered the European Union as a full member. The following year, all the member countries signed the Single European Act which increased the momentum towards the creation of a single internal market and the expansion of the authorities of the supranational body. This process of integration was considerably advanced by the signing of the European Union Treaty (Maastricht, 1992) which meant a substantial step forward for economic and political integration. The Treaty signalled acceptance of the different phases of monetary union and the creation of the Central European Bank. From that point the Spanish government made the fulfilment of these requirements a basic aim of its economic policy in order to be part of the group of countries to integrate the economic and monetary union from the very first moment. Once this required framework of economic stability had been achieved, Spain, together with another eleven EU member states, adopted the common European currency on 1 January 1999. On 1 May 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam came into effect, which represented a further step forward for the construction of Europe by reinforcing the community policies already established in the Treaty of the Union, and in particular with regard to the establishment of an employment policy and the creation of a space for freedom, safety and justice. In December 2000, the European Union member countries ratified the Treaty of Nice which further expanded the European Union towards the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The aim of this treaty was to adapt the Union, its institutions and its decision-making mechanisms to a new Europe which has since been expanded to include a total of 28 member states. With this treaty, Spain maintained or increased its specific weight based on its population and its economic weight within the EU. However, the most decisive step taken by the European Union was to implement the single currency in the shape of the euro, which since 1 January 2002 has come into circulation in most of the member countries. Since it joined the European Union, Spain has occupied the presidency on four occasions: in the first half of 1989, the second half of 1995 and the first half of 2002 and the first half of 2010. In these periods the most important decisions were the approval of the “Delors Report” which was the step prior to the European Union or Maastricht Treaty in 1992 (during the first presidency), while the second Spanish presidency coincided with the decision to designate the euro as the European currency. In 2002 the main challenges for the presidency of the European Union were the fight against terrorism, the continuation of economic and social reform, and the fulfilment of the schedule for expansion. Finally, the 2010 presidency saw the drive to achieve the EU's adhesion to the European Convention of Human Rights, the implementation of the new plan for effective equality between men and women, and the political decision to promote the European protection order. The EU initiatives in which Spain has played a key role and to which it has dedicated considerable effort are the implementation and consolidation of the idea of Europe and the Citizens, and its advancement by means of specific measures (the concept of "European citizenship", European passport, etc.); the concept of social Europe, in parallel with the idea of economic and monetary Europe: the defence and application of the economic and social cohesion of the European Union and the creation of employment as the driving force for that cohesion; the emphasis on the development of a common European policy in matters of Justice and Interior, and particularly in the fight against organised international delinquency, drug trafficking and terrorism, with the aim of progressively establishing a common “area of freedom, safety and justice”; the process of developing and institutionalising relations between the EU and Latin America, as showcased in the summit between Europe and Latin America in Rio de Janeiro in 1999; and finally, political stability in the Mediterranean basin (intensification of the cooperation ties with the Mediterranean countries in the north of Africa, actively mediating in the Middle East peace process, and hosting the Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean in Barcelona). In its efforts to promote the cooperation and development of international relations in the Mediterranean basin, Spain plays a key role in the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM), which has its headquarters in Barcelona.