Spain Targets a Spot Among Europe's Big Three After Brexit

(Bloomberg) --

Spain wants to join Germany and France forging a three-way alliance to push the European project forward after Brexit, Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said.

With the U.K. leaving and Italy’s populist government more concerned with picking fights than making plans, Spain spies an opportunity to regain some of the influence that it lost during the financial crisis.

"We want to get back to being part of the motor -- that explains why we’ve been getting closer to France and Germany," Borrell said. "There’s even been talk of a G-3, a group of three countries -- France, Germany plus Spain, that would emerge after the departure of the U.K."

First though, the Socialist administration must get past a snap election on April 28. Polls suggest Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will add to his 84 lawmakers but he may face a challenge to forge a majority as his anti-establishment ally Podemos is losing support.

Borrell insisted that the political situation in Spain remains "volatile" with more than two months still to go before polling day. He also brushed off a pledge from the liberals of Ciudadanos -- who are projected to come second or third -- that they wouldn’t support Sanchez.

“It’s a very surprising attitude because it’s as much as saying that they will only pact with the right,” Borrell said.

Lacking Credibility?

The Ciudadanos also pledged not to back Mariano Rajoy of the People’s Party in 2016 before changing tack after the election, arguing that the country needed political stability.

"Are you telling me they don’t have much credibility?" Borrell said. "Those things are said."

Sanchez was forced to call an election less than nine months after taking office because the separatist parties who backed a no-confidence motion against Rajoy last year refused to support the Socialist budget.

Borrell declined to rule out a future approach to the separatists if that was required for a majority.

“The Catalan independence parties have shown what they do,” Borrell he said. All the same, “we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves," he added.

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