|Head of State
|King Felipe VI (since June 2014)
Pedro Sánchez (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, since June 2018)
|Size||505,990 km² (195,363 sq. miles)|
|MEPs||59 (Joined the EU in 1986)|
|Next legislative election||2023|
|Presidency of the Council||July – December 2023|
|Last meeting with Boris Johnson||None held to date|
|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 Sánchez said on Brexit||“Safeguarding the rights of Spaniards in the UK is fundamental for the government of Spain,”
“Given the uncertainties of the Withdrawal Agreement, there is one aspect that seems especially relevant to me: everything we agreed to with Gibraltar will remain in force, even if there is no Withdrawal Agreement,”
“The most important lesson we need to learn from what’s happening in the UK is that when decision-making processes, based on lies, are put in the hands of the people, societies – in this case British society – wind up down a blind alley,”
“Dates may vary, but the important thing is to give British politics the time it needs to find its way out of a situation that stems from a referendum held three years ago.”
|Spain’s priorities||Spain will head to the polls for the fourth time in four years in November 2019. This is because Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has failed to find a majority following his snap election in April 2019. His PSOE won the election securing 29% of votes, but needed the help of either left-wing Podemos and regional parties, or the centre right, to form a government. Far-right party Vox also won seats – the first time a significant far-right force has achieved this in Spain in decades. The snap election was called after Catalan separatists withdrew support for Sánchez’s budget.
Socialist Pedro Sánchez became Prime Minister on 1st June 2018 following a vote of no confidence in Parliament against Mariano Rajoy (Partido Popular).
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 2017, 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.