Should the United Kingdom decide on Thursday to leave the European Union, Spain’s economy will suffer. The trade balance between the two countries is currently in Spain’s favor, which enjoys an €11 billion surplus, equivalent to 1.1% of GDP. The United Kingdom is also Spain’s number one direct investment destination (14% of the total), a figure of more than €48 billion. In turn, UK investment makes up 10% of total direct foreign investment.
But Brexit would arguably have a bigger impact on the movement of people. British tourists make up around 25% of the total number of visitors to Spain each year. At the same time, the United Kingdom is where the overwhelming majority of Spaniards looking for work abroad head. Some 800,000 British citizens currently own properties in Spain: around 300,000 live here permanently, while the remainder spend extensive periods here.
At the same time, the United Kingdom is where the overwhelming majority of Spaniards looking for work abroad head
While the question of welfare benefits for immigrants has been one of the central issues in the Brexit debate, and one that the rest of Europe largely accepts and understands, reducing access to foreign workers will impact negatively on Spaniards looking for work in the United Kingdom. But their situation will be worsened considerably should the United Kingdom leave. Inevitably, Spain will introduce similar measures, which in turn will make life harder for British nationals living here or considering moving here.
David Cameron has embarked on a dangerous and unnecessary adventure, one that could not only incur huge economic costs, but that seems to be ushering xenophobia the worst kind of nationalism. The economic and financial after-shocks of Brexit would hit Europe’s most vulnerable economies. Spain, with a public deficit greater than its GDP, is one of them.
English version by Nick Lyne.