What Does The Catalan Crisis Mean For Expats?

The Spanish government seems to have acted to stem the independence tide in Catalonia, but what does the political turmoil mean for British expats in the province?

Barcelona and the Costa Brava have been magnets for sun-seeking Brits for decades.

Many have given up their lives in the UK to uproot and relocate to Catalonia, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast nestling up against the border with France.

The European Union has condemned the move for independence and the Spanish government has declared the referendum unlawful.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has eight days to avert the crisis by confirming Catalan has not declared independence after confusing signals coming out of Barcelona.

Unpleasant options for Catalan government

If Catalan has declared independent, the central government will sack the regional government and take over administration from Madrid.

If Catalan explains independence was just a horrible mistake and the province remains a part of Spain, Puigdemont risks his party losing power as pro-independence radicals drop their support for his ruling coalition.

Independence would likely be a disaster for British expats.

Catalan would immediately be outside the EU and would lose all social and economic benefits of staying as part of the trading bloc.

This would impact banking, trade and transport beyond the Catalan borders.

If Catalonia did leave Spain, the effect on the economy would be devastating. Around a fifth of GDP and a quarter of exports are generated from the Catalan north-east corner of the country.

Scotland watches from the wings

But even though a truce is on the cards for the Catalans, a long-lasting solution to the call for independence needs to be found.

No doubt politicians in Edinburgh and Westminster have watched the proceedings closely as the issues arising for the Catalans mirror many of those faced by Scotland.

The Scots voted to remain and nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon has voiced a second independence referendum is on the way.

Scotland would face the same EU issues as Catalonia if Sturgeon was to pursue independence.

The Scottish Nationalist Party has already passed a motion of support for Catalonia and has sent a message to the Spanish government urging ministers to respect the referendum result and to find a solution to the crisis.

Catalonia is just one of dozens of regional disputes in the EU