Country Reports

Spain Country Report

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Risk Level

Very High


Executive Summary

The centre-left Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español: PSOE) of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez won 123 of 350 seats in the 28 April 2019 general election but was unable to form an administration as a result of disagreements with potential partners over the government programme. Consequently, a new election was scheduled for 10 November. The unresolved Catalan autonomy issue will be the major ongoing challenge for Spain's new government. Recent opinion polling indicates that the PSOE will strengthen in the 10 November elections, but at around 34% not sufficiently to form a majority government. None of the three conservative opposition parties – Popular Party (Partido Popular: PP) , Vox, and Ciudadanos – are polling more than 17%. Our main scenario is therefore the PSOE seeking to form a government through an alliance with smaller regional parties and Podemos, the smaller left-of-centre party. IHS Markit expects Spain's economic recovery to soften during 2019, with real GDP growth forecast at 2.2% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020, down from 2.6% in 2018, according to the September forecast update. Given the government's attempts to reassure the European Union that it will continue to meet fiscal deficit targets, increased spending on Catalan (and other) autonomous regions relies on ambitious objectives to increase tax revenues in the 12-month outlook, which would be hampered by any further softening of GDP growth.The ongoing Catalan independence conflict will keep protest and riot risks high, mostly in Catalonia. In addition, the emergence of VOX also indicates a new protest risk around its activities by opponents. Spain faces an ongoing elevated risk of Islamist terrorist attacks conducted by lone actors or small cells.
Last update: October 10, 2019

Operational Outlook

Spain ranks well overall compared with its regional peers in terms of doing business. However, obtaining licences, permits, and credit remains problematic. Corruption risks are likely to remain elevated, particularly during construction tenders. Labour strike risks will remain elevated nationally because of high unemployment and austerity measures and protests against ride-hailing platform providers, and they will be even higher in Catalonia because of the independence issue. Despite regular public transport strikes both in Madrid and Barcelona, industrial action does not usually cause severe disruption to businesses. Attempts to increase labour market flexibility are likely to stagnate under the next centre-left PSOE government.

Last update: June 15, 2019



The August 2017 vehicle-impact attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, including the use of a dedicated site to assemble explosives, indicate a significant degree of co-ordination and capability among Islamist militants and a wider jihadist support network. Urban areas (e.g., Madrid and Barcelona) are at particular risk. An attack would most likely be launched by lone actors with low capabilities inspired but not necessarily directed by groups such as the Islamic State, or by small terrorist cells, which are usually better organised. ETA's disbandment in May 2018 makes the threat of nationalist/separatist terrorist attacks extremely low.

Last update: June 21, 2019


Violent crime rates in Spain remain generally low, although petty crimes such as theft rose in 2018. Barcelona displays higher crime rates compared with other parts of Spain across almost all categories, with the number of robberies using force rising by 19.4% in 2018. Other regions with above-average crime rates include the Balearic Islands and Madrid. Petty crime is likely in areas frequented by tourists and on public transport. Organised crime is of a transnational character, focusing mainly on illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking for prostitution, and property crime. Organised crime is likely to continue to have an influence on Spain's political system at the municipal level.

Last update: June 15, 2019

War Risks

Inter-state war risks will remain low in Spain thanks to the country's friendly diplomatic and economic relations with most European countries and many other states around the globe. Spain is closely integrated in the European Union, NATO, and other international organisations. Diplomatic rifts with the United Kingdom over the sovereignty of Gibraltar during ongoing Brexit negotiations, minor occasional disagreements with Morocco over the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and disputes with Portugal over the remote Savage Islands and the Olivenza region are highly unlikely to lead to armed conflict.

Last update: August 1, 2019

Social Stability


Catalan independence-related issues – such as the legal process against Catalan political leaders, which is likely to continue until October 2019 – are likely to prompt disruptive protests mainly in Catalonia, and sporadically in Madrid around the trial court. Unionist marches with a far-right presence are likely to turn violent, although fatalities are unlikely. The electoral success of the far-right VOX from the late-2018 Andalusian regional elections through to the April 2019 general election sparked violent protests by radical anti-fascist groups in Andalusia and Catalonia. Single issues are also likely to drive unrest, as exemplified by gender-equality-related protests, anti-austerity strikes and protests, and taxi-driver protests against ride-hailing platforms.

Last update: June 15, 2019

Health Risk


Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Spain is located in an active seismic zone and earthquakes can impact the country, such as the 5.1-magnitude earthquake that hit Lorca (southeast) on May 12, 2011, leaving a dozen people dead. The Canary Islands (especially El Hierro Island) experience seismic activity as well. One of the most recent earthquakes occurred in January 2016, when a 6.1-magnitude quake was recorded off of the coast of Málaga. The worst hit area was Spain's North African enclave of Melilla, where around 26 people suffered light injuries.

From time to time, Spain also experiences summer forest fires, heavy rains, and flooding. Severe flooding occurred in Costa del Sol in December 2016, resulting in at least one death. Alicante experienced record amounts of rain in March 2017. According to media reports, the region suffered its worst amount of flooding in 20 years after it was hit by half the average annual rainfall in just one day. In June 2017, a forest fire led to the evacuation of at least 1000 people near the town of Moguer and spread to the Donana Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Spain's most important nature reserves.

Last update: April 5, 2019



Public transportation throughout the country is generally reliable and in excellent condition. All major cities have metered taxi services. In Madrid, official taxis have a flat rate of 30 euros between the city center and Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD).

Rail service is reliable but quality and speed varies by region. Public buses are also generally in good condition and inexpensive.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information


Spain is divided between three climatic zones. The north (Galicia, Cantabria, Basque country) has an oceanic climate characterized by regular rain and mild temperatures throughout the year; summers are usually not very hot. The center of the country (Castile, León, La Mancha, Aragon) experiences a continental climate: winters are cold and dry and summers very hot. Along the Mediterranean coast (from Catalonia to Andalucía), winters are mild and summers are often scorching, particularly in Andalucía. Rain is most common in the country in the spring and autumn months.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +34
Police: 112


Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz


Last update: April 5, 2019