Project Brexit

Spain

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Head of State

Prime Minister

King Felipe VI (since 2014)

Pedro Sánchez (Socialist Party PSOE, since June 2018)

Population 46,054,903
Size 505,990 km2 (195,363 sq mi)
MEPs 54 (Joined the EU in 1986)
Next legislative election 28 April 2019
Presidency of the Council July – December 2023
Last meeting with Theresa May 1 December 2018
Brexit priorities As a pro-European country, Spain’s main priority will be to keep the EU27 united throughout and after the Brexit negotiations and avoid any further disintegration.

A key issue between the two countries is immigration, with around 300,000 British expatriates living in Spain and investing in the economy. Spain will seek to defend the interests of these citizens as well as British companies operating in Spain. It also wants to protect the tourist industry which sees around 18 million British people visit the country every year.

Concluding a trade deal between the UK and the EU will also be high on Spain’s agenda. The UK is Spain’s fourth largest trading partner and the most important recipient of Spanish foreign investments.

Furthermore, the Spanish Government has a particular interest in what happens to Gibraltar after Brexit. The Spanish Government has called for joint sovereignty of the island, which is currently British territory and voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

What Mr Rajoy said on Brexit 17 January 2017

“Brexit is a serious threat.

“Without wanting to go into other considerations, I will only tell you that one in five tourists who come to Spain are British, and close to 17 million Britons visited Spain last year.”

A Spanish official on 17 January

“From our point of view, it is clear that if Britain leaves the EU, it leaves in its entirety. If Britain leaves, Scotland and Gibraltar leave as well.”

10 April 2017

“First we must negotiate (Britain’s) withdrawal, and then we will talk of future ties.”

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis on 16 May 2017

“We’re under the impression that the British side is putting on the table too many requirements. We want it to be easier.” 

“We want the agreement to be as broad as possible … and as similar as possible to the situation we have now.”

Spain’s priorities Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for a snap election, the country’s third in four years. With only 24% of seats in Parliament, Sánchez failed to secure a majority to back his proposed budget after Catalan separatists withdrew their support. The Catalan parties wanted to discuss Catalonia’s independence, but Sánchez refused. The election will take place on 28 April. It is likely it may result in another hung Parliament.

Socialist Pedro Sánchez became Prime Minister on 1st June 2018 following a vote of no confidence in Parliament against Mariano Rajoy (Partido Popular). The vote came after a corruption scandal that involved PP members which led to their sentencing for fraud and money laundering.  The party was also fined €240,000.

The Spanish Government is facing increasing pressure with regards to Catalonia’s independence. The region’s President, Carles Puigdemont, called for an independence referendum that took place on 1 October, despite the constitutional court’s ruling that the referendum was in violation of the constitution.  The turnout was around 42%, with 90% voting in favour of independence and 7.9% voting against it.

The Catalonian Parliament declared Catalonia’s independence, which the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal annulled. Puigdemont is currently residing in Belgium where he awaits judges’ verdict on his extradition to Spain.

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