Could Spain be heading for its own EU referendum?
The process of Brexit is a complicated business. It's been a year since Britons voted to leave the European Union. But how has Britain's controversial decision and its handling of the situation thus far affected other EU countries' views of the Brussels-based Union? Has the uncertainty faced by the British Government convinced others to stay put, or do they wish to follow suit and have a Frexit, Spexit, Grexit, etc.?
A recent poll by Pew Research Centre gathered opinions from almost 10,000 people from 10 European countries including France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Hungary and UK. The purpose of the survey was to find out the attitudes towards Brexit and the EU from across Europe. It questioned respondents on topics such as would they want a referendum of their own and whether they think Brexit is positive or negative for Britain and other member countries.
One key point thrown up by the survey is that the struggles and setbacks already faced by the UK as a result of the "Leave" decision may have highlighted to other members how valuable the Union is. Public approval of the EU has increased significantly compared to a year ago, with majorities in 9 out of the 10 countries holding a favourable view of the organisation. The largest pro EU majorities were found in Poland (74 per cent) and Germany (68 per cent). Even the UK, which one would expect to hold a more unfavourable view, had 54 per cent of respondents saying they viewed the EU in a positive light.
The exception was Greece, where only 33 per cent of respondents expressed approval of the EU (the report proposes that this is possible because the organisation has imposed austerity on the country).
It may also be no surprise that younger respondents – those who have never experienced what it's like to live in a country independent from the EU – mostly viewed the Union positively. However, the general consensus across all countries is that respondents are less than impressed with the EU's handling of economic and refugee issues.
The poll's most interesting responses arguably came from Spain. More than any other country involved in the survey, Spain welcomed the idea of having its own EU referendum. The results showed that 65 per cent of Spaniards would support a referendum where voters could choose to either leave or remain in the EU. Across all eligible countries (not UK), an average of 53 per cent of participants said they wanted their own vote.
However, this Spanish enthusiasm to vote does not seem to be spurred on by a desire to follow in Britain's footsteps; when asked if they think their country should leave the EU only 13 per cent of Spaniards answered yes (the average across all counties was 18 per cent). And this figure is much lower than the two countries with the highest percentages of prospective leave voters; Greece and Italy, both polled 35 per cent of respondents expressing a wish to part ways with the EU.
Spain's overall negative view of leaving the EU was further reflected in other statistics, with 70 per cent saying they believe Brexit is bad for the UK and 78 per cent saying that it's bad for the EU.
The report suggests that the strong desire for a referendum (from Spain and the other member countries) may be a reflection of the frustration many feel over whether Brussels ever actually takes note of any of their concerns.
So, if you're living in Spain, you may have to prepare yourself for an EU referendum in the near future.
Managing your finance in Spain is always important. Whether or not Brexit will start a trend remains to be seen, but in case Spain does decide to have its own referendum, it's crucial for all citizens to be financially prepared for the potential outcomes.
Blacktower's financial advisers can help you find the right way to manage your finance in Spain, offering many different services. Our advisers can help you manage your wealth, reach your saving goals, and decide what is best for your pension – which may involve transferring it into a QROPS. Get in contact today.