Madrid Tells Businesses to Get Ready for (any) Brexit

Only one-third of Spanish companies have made Brexit contingency plans.

By Diego Torres and cross-posted from Politico

Spain is stepping up calls on businesses to get ready for any potential Brexit outcome.

Industry and Commerce Minister Reyes Maroto this week announced a series of actions aimed at “helping companies prepare contingency plans” for Brexit, including informational meetings with business leaders and a public website.

“We have to inform companies that any scenario can occur,” she told reporters. “Some [companies] still convey to us hopes that nothing will happen, and the reality is that something is going to happen.”

Only 31 percent of Spanish companies have made contingency plans for Brexit, and just 19 percent have started implementing those plans, according to a survey of 2,000 executives conducted by KPMG in coordination with the CEOE, Spain’s biggest business lobby.

A CEOE official said the government has told businesses to prepare for three potential scenarios: A no-deal Brexit (with the U.K. falling under the trade rules of the World Trade Organization), a so-called Canada-plus agreement — which would go beyond the EU’s deal with the North American country — and a deal whereby the U.K. remains in the EU customs union.

Madrid has consistently advocated for the softest possible Brexit, under both the current Socialist and previous conservative governments. But there are growing concerns among officials that this may not be the outcome, leading some to fear Spain could be one of the biggest economic losers from Brexit.

The U.K. is the biggest recipient of Spanish foreign investment, the second largest foreign investor in Spain and the fifth biggest destination for Spanish exports. The U.K. also sends the largest number of tourists to Spain, and Brits buy more real estate in the country than any other foreign nationals, according to KPMG

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