Donald Trump has arrived. President of the United States. And Brexit is going to be the "hard" version (or "hostile" as Spain's Cinco Días headlined), after Theresa May announced last week that the UK will not try to remain a part of the single European market. In France, Marine Le Pen is leading the latest Ipsos poll for the first round of the presidential election. It is still early to know what Mr. Trump might do with his foreign policy, how far it will stray from the established norm. For now, we have the normal calls to world leaders, a meeting with Theresa May this week (Churchill's bust is back in the Oval Office), and rumours the US is about to move its Embassy in Israel to East Jerusalem. "The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump's arrival as president", said Jerusalem's Deputy Mayor, Meir Turgeman. For Spanish-speaking countries, so far we have new White House spokesman Sean Spicer's attempt to befriend Mexico by referring to "Prime Minister Piñañato" instead of "President Peña Nieto" and the decision to remove Spanish as an alternative language on the White House webpage.
Economically, Mr. Trump wants to revive the American economy to the cost of the rest of the world, in a seemingly belligerent manner: "Buy American and hire American". Bring back wealth, bring back jobs, bring back borders, "and we will bring back our dreams". "Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength". In his opinion, which is now very relevant for world affairs, the US has spent "trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay". "We've made other countries rich", he said on Friday: "while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon".
Let us try to decode Spain's position faced with these challenges at the start of 2017. Ten days ago, Mariano Rajoy and the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said they wanted as soft a Brexit as possible, and the Spaniard confirmed that for Spain, Europe and more Europe was the way forward: "We will not renounce the essential principles of the European project such as the indivisibility of the four freedoms of the interior market, or renounce our pro-European vocation". A good modern Spaniard, then, taking up a defensive position behind the benefits of the country's 1978 Constitution. "We must continue to drive European economic and political integration". English-speaking countries have committed the sin of sticking their necks out and not thinking like all the others.
Spain's new Foreign Secretary, Alfonso Dastis, appears to be focusing his attention closer to home, a strange position for the government minister who should be looking furthest afield. The most important thing for him is to "defend the interests of Spanish workers in Gibraltar who cross the border every day, and the socio-economic interests of the Spanish areas surrounding Gibraltar". It would be impossible, he said, for another country to want to leave the European Union after Brexit: "What I have perceived is that no one shares that opinion that after the UK there will be others who want to leave, quite the contrary". Everything under control, then, minimal side effects expected.
Regarding Mr. Trump, for now Spain has congratulated him on his inauguration.
Mr. Dastis seems equally certain, as with Brexit, that nothing will really change with Mr. Trump in the White House. He does not believe "in any way" that he will become best buddies with Vladimir Putin, and Mr. Trump "will realise the essential role" NATO plays once he gets down to work. Despite the new president's inauguration speech, and the first official moves this weekend, which would appear to indicate the opposite, Spain's Foreign Secretary believes there will again be not much to see here, thank you very much: Trump will realise that he cannot govern as Trump.
The Economy Minister alone, Luis de Guindos, appears to be aware the world is somewhat more complex. At the end of December, he said "Brexit is bad news […] the negotiations are going to be very, very, very, very difficult", adding that a hard exit "would logically lead towards a more difficult situation and limit the possibilities for the financial passport". Well, hard it is. After Theresa May's speech last week, Mr. Guindos said: "A Europe à la carte cannot be tolerated". On Sunday, he proposed giving Mr. Trump "the benefit of the doubt" for now: "let's wait and see what measures he takes".
The Spain Report is not seeing very much public debate about the consequences of either Brexit or President Trump, much less any specific plans to deal with them, beyond "more Europe", "everything will be okay" and "Gibraltar is Spanish". Spain has too many real interests in both the United Kingdom and the United States for the government to leave it at that or for opposition parties to trot out the same old ideological replies as always. The country is faced with historic changes. What if Ms. Le Pen wins in France? (Or Mr. Fillon, who is campaigning on a retrenched Europe, for that matter). What happens when Mr. Draghi begins to taper quantitative easing? That cannot go on forever, and Mr. Trump will likely be sucking billions towards the US in the meantime. What would happen to modern Spanish identity without Europe, or with much less Europe? What does Spain want out of Brexit, and from Mr. Trump?