Fifteen years on: Spanish Membership of the European Union revisited

Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University, Working Paper, Nº 89, 2001.

This paper attempts to describe and account for the major changes undergone by Spain as an EU player since her accession in 1986. Many analysts appear to have espoused the view that most if not all of these can be attributed to the fact that, following the 1996 general election, a decidedly pro-integrationist Felipe González was replaced as prime minister by a vaguely eurosceptical José María Aznar. Undoubtedly, ideological considerations (and, more importantly perhaps, differences in political culture) must be taken into account when examining the evolution of Spain’s European policy over the past fifteen years. However, this paper will argue that changing policy styles and contents should be understood in terms of both the learning process undergone by all new member states as they mature, and the need to adapt and respond to developments within the EU, most notably the evolution of the European integration process itself.

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