The king and queen of Spain, King Felipe VI and his wife Letizia, will travel to the United Kingdom on Tuesday on an official visit to discuss bilateral relations between both countries once Britain exits the European Union.
British nationals play a significant role in the local economies of Malaga and the Costa del Sol more broadly, particularly in areas such as investment and tourism. The official visit will therefore be structured with a three-pronged approach in order to help develop new bilateral relations between the two countries moving forwards.
The first approach will be to 'highlight the extraordinary contribution' made by Spanish residents working in Britain, 78% of which are employed in the following sectors: public administration, education and health, banking and finance and hospitality, according to a recent report by the UK Office for National Statistics. 800,000 British nationals live in Spain, half of whom own Spanish property and 50,000 of which are based in and around the Malaga region.
The second approach will be focused on Spanish business ventures in Britain and vice versa, underscoring the influence of Spanish firms located in the UK such as the Santander banking group, Telefonica (which owns 02), Iberdola (owner of Scottish Power) and Ferrovial (top stakeholder at Heathrow airport). Spanish investment in the UK reached €82.5 billion by the end of 2015, accounting for 140,000 direct jobs in Britain. Equally, the United Kingdom was the second-largest foreign investor in Spain in 2015, with a contribution of €44.7 billion to the Spanish economy.
The third underlying theme during their visit will be to underscore the importance of preserving bilateral relations outside of the protective framework of the EU. Spain continues to be the holiday destination of choice for Britons, with over 17.8 million UK visitors last year, by far the largest group of foreign tourists. It is also still the most popular European country for Britons looking to relocate or buy a second home, with more than 2.5 million property searches every month. The visit will work to ensure a smooth transitioning post-Brexit and hopefully mark the start of a fruitful new chapter between Spain and the United Kingdom.
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