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29 March 1985: A successful end to Spain's talks to join the EEC

González and Morán sign the treaty. :: SUR
González and Morán sign the treaty. :: SUR
  • Then Prime Minister, Felipe González, addressed the country in a televised speech about the "hope" and "modernity" that membership of the European Economic Community would bring

On 29 March 1985 over 20 years of negotiations with what was then the European Economic Community (EEC) reached a positive outcome when Spain's accession to the bloc was agreed.

The announcement was made following a visit to Madrid by a delegation of EEC negotiators from Brussels, who were met at the city's Barajas airport by Spain's foreign affairs minister of the time, Fernando Morán, and secretary of state for relations with the EEC, Manuel Marín.

Hope

That evening then prime minister Felipe González addressed the nation in a televised speech during which he delivered a message of "hope" and "modernity" for the country's future. He spoke of an "irreversible step" to join the EEC and of a "solution to the age-old isolation" of Spain.

The news was welcomed in Malaga and SUR published an interview with five lecturers from the University of Malaga, who felt that in particular the province's tourism and agriculture sectors would receive a "boost" from membership.

Juan Antonio Gallego, an Economics teacher who was working in Brussels at the time, said that it signalled "a new era for Spanish businesses". Despite concerns over the introduction of VAT in the tourism sector, Enrique Torres, a lecturer of economic policy, was confident that tourism in Malaga would "continue to be the cheapest in Europe". His comments came amid fears that Greece, which had joined the EEC in 1981, might veto Spain's membership over concerns about the impact on its tourism industry.

The first application made by Spain to join came in February 1962 by the then foreign affairs minister, Fernando María Castiella. However, Spain was still in the grip of Franco's dictatorship, which went against the EU's principles of democracy. In 1977 Adolfo Suárez's government tried again and he was accepted onto the Council of Europe. This was taken as a positive sign that the country was well on its way to EEC membership.

On 12 June 1985 the accession treaty was formally signed by the EEC and Spain and the country officially joined, along with neighbouring Portugal, on 1 January 1986.