- 1Spain: An attractive country for investment
- 2Setting up a business in Spain
- 3 Tax System
- 4 Investment aid and incentives in Spain
- 5 Labor and social security regulations
- 6 Intellectual property law
- 7Legal framework and tax implications of e-commerce in Spain
- AI Annex I Company and Commercial Law
- AIIAnnex II The Spanish financial system
- AIIIAnnex IIIAccounting and audit issues
- The country, its people and quality of life
- Spain and the European Union
- Economic structure
- Domestic Market
- Foreign trade and investment
- Legislation on foreign investment and exchange control
- Obligations in relation to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing
The Government intends to continue with its program of heavy investment in this area in the future.
In this connection, the Infrastructure, Transport and Housing Plan (PITVI) was approved which, based on an analysis of the current situation and a rigorous assessment of Spanish needs, establishes the priorities and action plans up to 2024. Additionally, the Spanish government will allocate 12% of the Next Generation program to resilient ecosystems and infrastructure policies, to be implemented through projects such as the Transport, Energy and Urban Infrastructure Preservation Plan.
The objectives of the PITVI notably include: (i) enhancing the efficiency and competitiveness of the global transport system, optimizing the existing capacity; (ii) contributing to balanced economic development; (iii) promoting sustainable mobility, combining its economic and social effects with respect for the environment; (iv) reinforcing territorial cohesion and accessibility to all State territories through the transport system; and (v) improving the functional integration of the transport system as a whole by taking an intermodal approach.
The motorway and dual carriageway network, of nearly 17,377 kilometers, has undergone constant renovation with a view to enhancing its efficiency. Today it is the leading European motorway and dual carriageway network. The improvement of the motorway and dual carriageway network and an increase in high-capacity roads, with investment of €36,439 million, is among the objectives of the plan.
As far as railway transport is concerned (where Spain has a network of almost 18,000 kilometers), high-speed networks have become a priority.
Madrid currently has high-speed train connections to 33 Spanish cities, meaning that approximately two-thirds of the Spanish population live within reach of a high-speed train station.
The Spanish high-speed network is constantly being expanded. The new Madrid-Orense section was inaugurated in December 2021 and is expected to be followed by the inauguration of the sections to Burgos and Murcia in 2022, while the Badajoz section will be connected to Madrid in 2023. The Spanish government estimates that construction of the entire rail corridor from Almeria to the French border will be completed by 2025-2026.
In fact, in recent years, Spain has become a global high-speed rail pioneer, having multiplied the kilometers of high-speed lines in service more than eight-fold, from just over 450 kilometers to more than 3,700 kilometers.
Since its inception, approximately €51,775 million has been invested in the high-speed rail network, making a commitment to ensuring that 9 out of every 10 citizens live less than 30 kilometers away from a high-speed rail station.
Spain has thus become the leading country in Europe and the second worldwide, after China, in terms of the number of kilometers of high-speed lines in operation, outperforming countries such as France and Japan. Looking toward to 2022, the General State Budget contemplates an increase in high-speed expenditure over preceding years, financed in part with European funding.
Also noteworthy is the important network of relations with managers of railroad infrastructure in other countries, established as a result of signing cooperation protocols. In the context of these agreements representatives from a range of countries, such as the US and Brazil, have visited Spain to learn about its high-speed model. By way of example, since 2020, administrative licenses and concessions have been granted to Spanish companies for their participation in the construction of railway infrastructure and equipment in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States (Dallas and Houston) and Mexico, among others. Additionally, Renfe operates the high-speed line connecting Medina and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Regarding the deregulation of rail passenger transport services, approval was recently given to Royal Decree-law 23/2018 of December 21, 2018, which transposes the Directive developing the single European railway area, allowing access to the railway infrastructures of all Member States and reinforcing the independence and impartiality of the administrators of such infrastructures. As a consequence of the deregulation, it was announced in 2020 that the high-speed “low cost” [railway infrastructure] known as "Avlo" would begin to operate, although its inauguration was postponed until June 2021, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
In addition to the entry into operation of “Avlo” trains, other high-speed “low cost” operators are also entering the market, such as “Ouigo” in March 2021 and the envisaged entry of “Iryo” at the end of 2022, fostering competition in the sector.
Finally, the ongoing liberalization of the freight sector since 2005 has led to the creation of private enterprises that transport goods by railroad. Following approval of the European Recovery Plan, the European Commission has authorized a €120 million support package designed by the Spanish government, with a time frame until June 2026, channeled through subsidies aimed at companies that substitute road transport for rail transport, compensating the difference in costs between the two modes of transport. This plan aims to incentivize rail transport over road transport, as well as improve the competitiveness.
Air transport links the main Spanish cities via Spain’s 46 airports, which also connect Spain to the world’s leading cities. Spain is a major hub for routes linking the Americas and Africa to Europe. The most significant investments in the pipeline are aimed at the two principal international airports in Madrid and Barcelona. AENA plans to invest €1,571 million up to 2026, the main objective being to increase capacity up to 80 million passengers. In 2020, as a consequence of the COVID-19 global health crisis, Spanish airports, like those in the rest of the world, saw a temporary drop in passenger numbers with respect to the positive evolution recorded in preceding years. However, the upward trend rebounded in 2021 with a 57.7% increase in passenger numbers compared to the previous year.
Despite the global paralysis suffered by the industry, which is still in the recovery phase, Spain has been chosen by many airlines as one of the top places for parking their fleet of aircraft, given the excellence of existing infrastructure.
The access to the high-speed rail network takes only 25 minutes from the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas International Airport; this means that travelers can easily combine both types of transport, placing Spain at the forefront of passenger transport.
The 2025 Flight Plan approved by ENAIRE provides for investment in excess of €100 million a year, with €168.7 million earmarked for 2022. By the end of the Plan in 2025, total investment will have reached €737 million, with the aim of adapting to the liberalization of services, as well as globalization and the consolidation of air navigation managers. The 2025 Flight Plan also seeks to enhance flight path efficiency as part of a commitment to sustainable aviation.
Furthermore, with over 46 international ports on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, Spain boasts excellent maritime transport links, becoming a port and harbor powerhouse, only behind the Asian giants, the US, Germany and the Netherlands. The reinforcement of short-distance maritime transport, both domestic and European, and the development of seaside motorways are some other key initiatives. Moreover, the Motorway of the Sea between Spain and France is now in operation, linking Vigo with the French port of Nantes-Saint Nazaire. At the same time, work is underway to recover the connection between Gijón and Nantes-Saint Nazaire, which would reintroduce what was one of the first Spanish motorways of the sea and which operated until its closure in 2014. Furthermore, Spain plans to promote this type of link in the Mediterranean, through agreements with Italy and other countries, with a view to increasing the number of links already on offer and operating with good results between the port of Barcelona and several Italian ports. The ferry line between Santander and the Irish port of Cork has also been reopened.
This will allow a more sustainable alternative in some of the main flows within the EU. In addition, with a view to improving the competitiveness of ports, the Ports Law was revised in 2021 to increase competitiveness, address the exceptional circumstances deriving from the COVID-19 pandemic and introduce the regulation of autonomous or unmanned ships.
In the same vein, the 2021-2025 Investment Plans for the port system were approved in 2021 to enhance port system connections, with an investment of more than €4,556 million. The 2022 budget for the port system in Spain was presented at the end of 2021, with an investment up to €925 million for port terminals, enhancements in land connectivity, environmental sustainability and digitalization.
As part of its plans for internationalization, the State Port Authority is promoting alliances with the major Chinese operators, with the Barcelona Europe South Terminal (BEST) at the port of Barcelona being operated by Chinese group Hutchinson Port Holdings (HPH), the leading port terminal operator in the world. Three major Spanish ports (Bahía de Algeciras, Valencia and Barcelona) are listed among top 100 ports worldwide in terms of container traffic10, thereby confirming Spain’s strategic position in the global maritime transport industry.
Spain is well equipped in terms of technological and industrial infrastructure, having seen a boom in recent years in technological parks in the leading industrial areas, as well as around universities and R&D centers. There are currently 62 technological parks11 housing 7,967 companies, mainly engaged in the telecommunications and IT industries, in which a large number of workers are employed in R&D activities.
Spain also boasts a solid telecommunications network, with an extensive conventional fiber optic cable network covering the country almost in its entirety, in addition to an extensive undersea cable network, aided by its privileged geographical position. The Spanish government plans to facilitate investment in this data transmission medium by eliminating administrative barriers.
Particularly noteworthy is the significant deregulation set in place some years ago in the majority of industries, including the telecommunications industry, meeting the deadlines set for such purpose by the EU with ease. Among other advantages, this deregulation has meant a more competitive range of products on offer as reflected in costs, essential for economic development.
Also notable is Government backing for integral management of water resources, based on environmental management and recovery, more efficient use of water and planned management of risks such as droughts and flooding. As part of these initiatives, the Spanish government is in the process of drawing up the 2022-2027 Water Plans for the Spanish River basins, following completion of the public consultation process in late 2021. The main objective of the new plans is to readjust water management to the effects of climate change, reducing allocations to adapt them to climatic conditions and improve the treatment of urban waste.
11Members of the Association of Science and Technology Parks in Spain.