On November 30, 2017, the Atlantic Council’s EuroGrowth Initiative hosted an informative discussion on Catalonia’s bid for independence and upcoming elections on December 21. The session was led by the new Director of the Global Business and Economics Program, Bart Oosterveld. 

The discussion highlighted the extremely complex situation, with a clear divide between separatist parties and unionists. There are also big differences within each camp, and an intricate web of crossed vetoes that heightens instability. While polling shows a preference for a legal referendum, this seems unlikely given political dynamics at the Spanish level.

The instability has had a significant economic impact already, as around 3000 firms have moved their corporate headquarters away from Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain. Protracted uncertainty in the future will hurt international investment in the region. Participants agreed that the European Union (EU) is unlikely to change its stance in the debate. The EU views the issue as an internal affair of Spain.

Related Experts: Bart Oosterveld