Spanish and French leaders meet to sign friendship treaty

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BARCELONA, Spain (UKTN) — French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Barcelona on Thursday to strengthen relations between Europe’s neighbors by signing a treaty of friendship.

The one-day summit in Barcelona comes amid a day of widespread strikes and protests across the Pyrenees against Macron’s bid to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

Sánchez and Macron will sign a treaty of friendship and cooperation between their countries. Both governments consider this a diplomatic bond of the highest order. Spain only has a similar treaty with Portugal; France has them with Germany and Italy.

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The leaders are seeking stronger positions within the European Union. Macron is billing himself as the continent’s leading politician to fill the void left by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while Sánchez wants Spain to take on a more influential role in Brussels following Britain’s exit from the bloc.

After years of cordial but sometimes distant relations between France and Spain, the two have become closer in recent times.

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Spain, France and Portugal have agreed on a major submarine pipeline to transport hydrogen from the Iberian Peninsula to France and eventually the rest of Europe. The pipeline, called H2Med, runs from Barcelona to Marseille.

The meeting will be held at the National Art Museum of Catalonia, housed in a former palace atop Montjuic Hill overlooking Barcelona. Catalan separatists are gathering outside to try and revive their flag movement to form a new state out of this corner of northeastern Spain that borders France.

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