Algeria backtracks after the EU has closed ranks with Spain. The Algerian delegation to the European institutions assured this Friday afternoon that “the alleged measure of the Government of Algiers to stop current transactions with a European partner [en alusión a España], it only exists in the minds of those who have been quick to stigmatize it.” The statement that rectifies, at least on paper, the announcement made just 48 hours ago, adds that, “regarding gas deliveries to Spain, Algeria has already made it known through the most authoritative voice, that of the president of the Republic, [Abdelmajud Tebboune]which will continue to honor all the commitments made in this context [y que] It is up to the interested commercial companies to assume all their contractual commitments”.
The Government received on Wednesday night with surprise the news that the Association of Banks and Financial Entities (Abef) of Algeria had sent an instruction to the banks of its country where it communicated the freezing of direct debits of foreign trade operations of goods or services directed to or coming from Spain as of Thursday, which in practice blocked bilateral trade.
Spanish diplomatic sources consider that this declaration is a full-fledged reversal of the announced freezing of foreign trade with Spain, after the steps taken before the European institutions by Minister José Manuel Albares, but they are cautious until they see how it translates into the practice. What is clear, they emphasize, is that it was not an invention, as the statement from the delegation of the Maghreb country in Brussels maintains, since there are Spanish companies that already had problems on Thursday with their financial transactions from Algerian banks.
Regarding the supply of gas to Spain, although there had been no direct threat, there had been insinuations by the Algerian side about the risk that the continuity of the supply would be endangered. The statement appeals to the president of the country himself to reiterate that the commitments will be fulfilled, but leaves the companies, the Spanish Naturgy and the Algerian Sonatrach, involved for months in a negotiation to review the price of fuel, the application of the contracts.
The head of Spanish diplomacy met this Friday in Brussels with the vice president of the European Commission and head of trade policy, Valdis Dombrovskis. After the meeting, the Community Executive has expressed its “maximum concern” about Algeria’s decision and has warned that the blocking of the commercial relationship with Spain “violates” in all likelihood the association agreement between the EU and the Maghreb country of 2005, which could lead to trade and economic retaliation from Europe. Albares has also stressed that “Algeria’s measure violates the agreement with the EU.”
The Algerian delegation in Brussels has complained about “the haste with which the European Commission reacted without prior consultation or any verification with the Algerian Government to the suspension by Algeria of a bilateral political treaty with a European partner, in this case Spain, without ensuring that this measure does not directly or indirectly affect its commitments contained in the Algeria-European Union Association Agreement”. The Algerian statement thus referred to the suspension of the friendship and good neighborly treaty with Spain, of an exclusively political and bilateral nature, but it ignored the suspension of bilateral trade, which fully affects the agreement with the EU, since the Commission has exclusive jurisdiction in trade policy.
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