Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain (Spanish: Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación) is a department of the Government of Spain in charge of Spain‘s foreign relations.

Responsibilities and Structure

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation plans, directs, implements and assesses Spain’s foreign policy and development cooperation policy, following the Government’s guidelines and applying the principle of unity of external action.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation is responsible for planning, directing, implementing and evaluating the State’s foreign policy and international development cooperation policy, with particular attention to policies involving the European Union and Ibero-America, and for coordinating and supervising all the actions carried out by the other Ministries and Public Administrations in those areas. It is also responsible for fostering economic, cultural and scientific relations; participating in the proposal and implementation of policies on migration and aliens; fostering cross-border and inter-territorial cooperation; protecting Spaniards abroad; and preparing, negotiating and processing the international treaties to which Spain is party.


Following the approval of the Royal Decree, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, under the direction of the Minister, is structured into the following higher and management bodies:

State Secretariat for Foreign Affairs

This State Secretariat is directly responsible for designing and implementing foreign policy, as regards its approach and overall objectives, as well as its specification into different geographic and thematic areas. Among other responsibilities, it coordinates and monitors Spain’s participation in the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy; designs and implements foreign policy in relation to the United Nations system; exercises duties relating to international terrorism affairs, international security, disarmament and human rights; and manages contributions to international organizations.

Five Directorates-General report to this State Secretariat:

  • Directorate-General for Foreign Policy and Security
  • Directorate-General for the United Nations and Human Rights
  • Directorate-General for the Maghreb, the Mediterranean and the Near East
  • Directorate-General for Africa
  • Directorate-General for North America, Asia and the Pacific

State Secretariat for European Affairs

This State Secretariat is responsible for designing and implementing Spain’s policy as regards the European Union. It also coordinates the actions of other Public Administrations in the European Union, and designs and implements Spain’s foreign policy with Europe.

Three Directorates-General, and the State Legal Service before the Court of Justice of the European Union, report to this State Secretariat:

  • Directorate-General for Integration and Coordination of General European Union Affairs
  • Directorate-General for Coordination of the Internal Market and other European Union Policies
  • Directorate-General for Europe

State Secretariat for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America and the Caribbean

This State Secretariat is responsible for designing, directing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating foreign policy for Ibero-America, international development cooperation, and the coordination of foreign cultural action. It also prepares and coordinates the Ibero-American Summits and plans and promotes the activities of the Ibero-American Community of Nations; collaborates with and supports the duties of the Ibero-American General Secretariat; and fosters and coordinates the presence of Spain in the Organization of American States (OAS) and in the different multilateral organizations and entities in the sphere of Ibero-America.

Two Directorates-General report to this State Secretariat:

  • Directorate-General for Sustainable Development Policy
  • Directorate-General for Ibero-America and the Caribbean


This State Secretariat also has two attached institutions: the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and Instituto Cervantes.

Under-Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation

Among other responsibilities, it is responsible for directing and coordinating the Ministry’s common services; preparing, processing, monitoring and depositing the international treaties to which Spain is party; selecting and training civil servants of the Diplomatic Corps and the Translators and Interpreters Corps; designing and implementing Spain’s foreign policy in the areas of aliens; protection of Spaniards abroad; management of emergency and crisis situations affecting Spaniards abroad; and supervising the actions of Spain’s consular posts.

Three management bodies report to the Under-Secretariat:

  • Technical Secretariat-General
  • Directorate-General for the Foreign Service
  • Directorate-General for Spaniards Abroad and for Consular and Migratory Affairs

The following report directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

  • Directorate-General for International Economic Relations
  • Directorate-General for Communication and Diplomatic Information
  • Introducer of Ambassadors

Past event – Global Careers for Spanish Nationals

Brought to you by Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y de Cooperación

Took Place – 10 October 2018

Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y de Cooperación invited candidates to this unique online career event where they had the opportunity to engage with leading International Organisations, have a 1-2-1 conversation with their staff and learn more about their careers opportunities and their potential as a candidate.

The Global Careers for Spanish Nationals campaign featured exclusive job opportunities, editorial, interviews and webinars from diverse International Organisations alongside an online careers event for qualified candidates with 5+ years experience plus a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum.

Participating organisations
The UN Refugee Agency World Food ProgrammeUnited Nations Office For Project ServicesUNICEF Logo IOM

Essential Criteria:

  • Are you a Spanish national?
  • Do you hold a Bachelor’s Degree as a minimum?
  • Do you have 5 years or more of relevant professional work experience? (Excluding internships)
  • Do you speak at least one additional language proficiently amongst the following preferred languages: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Russian?

Event Statistics

  • 1,264 event signups
  • 911 Registered Candidates
  • 429 Candidates attended the event
  • 92% of Candidates had a Master’s Degree or PhD
  • 510 Conversations took place at the event
  • 76% of candidates had 7+ Years experience
  • 50% Male and 50% Female
New ambassadors on their way from the Palacio de Santa Cruz to the Royal Palace for the presentation of Letters of Credence before His Majesty the King. EFE PHOTO

History of the Ministry

Spanish diplomacy, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, traces its origins back more than five centuries, and has undergone many transformations over the course of history.

The birth of modern diplomacy dates back to the appearance of the Nation-State as a system of political organization. This occurred in the 15th and 16th centuries, when feudal systems were disappearing all over Europe, and kingdoms were being created under the power of an absolute monarch. The Peace of Westphalia, in 1648, put an end to the Thirty Years’ War and consolidated the rise of the State as we know it today, as an entity with sovereignty over its domestic affairs, and a series of foreign relations with other States.

In Spain, this period coincided with the birth of Spain as a unified kingdom, which, under the Habsburg dynasty, carried out active diplomacy in defence of the Empire’s interests. Permanent embassies to other kingdoms steadily became essential tools of the Kingdom of Spain’s foreign policy, in addition to the already existing temporary delegations or embassies. These missions were controlled by the Crown.

An institution comparable to the current Ministry—managing, from Spain’s capital, relations with other countries—was conceived during the reign of King Philip V of Bourbon. In 1714, the monarch created the figure of Secretary of State, who, among other powers, would be responsible for foreign relations. Spain’s first Secretary of State was the Marquis of Grimaldo.

This institution would undergo a great many changes one hundred years later. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna established a code for relations among the different European States, and this led to remarkable development of diplomatic law and practice, with common rules across the continent.

Thus, in 1833 and under the reign of Ferdinand VII, Spain transformed the former figure of Secretary of State into a Minister of State, the first of which was Francisco de Cea Bermúdez. This reformulation provided our country with an institution that was analogous to those existing in the other European nations, which basically had two new corps: consular officials and diplomatic officials, which would eventually become one corps in 1928.

Diplomatic practice consists in the management of the political, economic, trade and cultural relations, and the protection of the interests, in the broadest sense, of the State that the Embassy represents. Consular practice focuses on Spanish citizens residing or travelling abroad, although it also includes important duties involving information and defending Spanish companies, among many others. Nowadays, diplomatic officers are responsible for all these duties.

The Ministry of State changed its name to Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the Spanish Civil War. During Spain’s transition to democracy, beginning in the 1970s, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was a fundamental institution, because it conveyed to the entire world the political changes wrought by Spanish society; managed Spain’s entry into the European Community; and promoted Spain’s relations with Ibero-America and other priority regions for Spanish foreign policy.

The latest change took place in 2004, when it changed its name to “Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation”, in order to underline Spain’s role as a country committed to assisting the most underprivileged peoples through development cooperation.

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