Security around Madrid will be rock solid between June 28 and 30, when the Spanish capital is due to host a NATO summit at a time of heightened global tension due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The Spanish government plans to deploy 6,550 national police officers and 2,400 members of the civil guard, in addition to 1,200 municipal police officers who will collectively ensure the safety of more than 40 heads of state and government in front of attend the gathering.
Each delegation will also provide its own security service, while F-18s from the Spanish Air Force will monitor the airspace. Authorities plan to declare a no-fly zone over much of the Madrid region and neighboring provinces at some point during the summit.
The government is also studying the possibility of reintroducing controls at its land borders, a measure provided for under certain conditions in the Schengen agreements, to “detect and prevent the entry into Spain of anyone who may constitute a danger to the summit”, a indicated Sources of the Ministry of the Interior.
According to law enforcement sources, Operation Eirene – so named after the Greek goddess of peace – will far exceed the security measures deployed the previous time Madrid hosted a North Atlantic Alliance summit, in July 1997. It will also be more important than the security operation during the marriage of Felipe VI (then still heir to the Spanish throne) and Letizia Ortiz, or during the proclamation of Felipe in June 2014, or during the events organized under the Spanish EU Presidency in 2002.
The decision to increase security measures was influenced by the convergence of a triple threat: jihadist terrorism, violent protest groups and the risk of cyber-sabotage by Russia.
Sources at the Spanish Interior Ministry said that so far no signs of particular concern have been detected on any of these fronts. The national level of anti-terrorism alert will remain at 4 out of 5, where it has been since June 2015. The Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO, which depends on the ministry) carries out periodic analyzes to detect the evolution of these threats.
Planning for Operation Eirene began in October, just months after NATO decided to hold the summit in Madrid. On May 12, the operation entered a second “preventive” phase with preparation work for pavilions 12 and 14 of Ifema, the Madrid convention center, where the main meetings and working sessions will be held. Ministry sources said a new “alert” phase is due to start on June 24, during which only authorized personnel will be able to access the site. Finally, on June 27, one day before the official start of the summit, the “critical phase” will be activated and will remain in place until all delegations have left Spain on June 30.
The program includes events at the Royal Palace, where the King and Queen will host a meal for world leaders on June 28; the Prado Museum, where a working dinner will be held the next day led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez; Moncloa Palace, seat of government, where the Prime Minister will hold bilateral talks with some of his counterparts; the Royal Theatre, the Reina Sofía Museum and the Royal Glassworks of La Granja (Segovia). These last three places will host different cultural events for the companions of the leaders present. Twenty hotels scattered around the city will welcome more than 2,000 international visitors expected at the gathering.
Getting around Madrid during the summit
The NATO summit will significantly affect mobility in Madrid, acknowledged interior ministry sources, who recommended using public transport whenever possible. In addition to traffic jams that will be caused by motorcades moving through the city and lane closures on some major roads, authorities are considering suspending metro service on line 8, which has a stop near Ifema. The ministry recommended companies headquartered in the region allow employees to work from home for the duration of the summit. The Prado Museum, where a dinner event is scheduled for June 29, will remain closed that day and the day before to finalize preparations.