Estudios Económicos


Population 47.4 million
GDP 30,090 US$
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major macro economic indicators

  2020 2021 2022 2023 (f) 2024 (f)
GDP growth (%) -11.2 6.4 5.8 2.5 1.6
Inflation (yearly average, %) -0.3 3.0 8.3 3.6 3.5
Budget balance (% GDP) -10.1 -6.8 -4.7 -3.9 -3.2
Current account balance (% GDP) 0.6 0.8 0.6 2.1 1.5
Public debt (% GDP) 120.3 116.8 111.6 107.3 104.7

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast


  • Strong comparative advantage in renewable energy (solar, wind)
  • Wide-sweeping reforms (labour market, banking sector, bankruptcy law, etc.)
  • Increasing financial support from European institutions
  • Major private-sector deleveraging (pre-pandemic)
  • Manufacturing sector has shown reinvention capacity in recent times


  • High private and public debt, highly negative international investment position
  • Dual labour market, high structural unemployment
  • Large quota of small, low-productivity companies
  • Fragmented and polarised political landscape, territorial unity threatened by the Catalan independence movement


Robust growth hampered by a gloomy regional environment

After experiencing a strong recovery and proving highly resilient in the wake of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, economic activity should slow in 2024 but remain above the eurozone average (Coface forecasts GDP of 0.9%). Household consumption is expected to be the main growth driver, thanks to the resilience of household purchasing power, with inflationary pressures easing and wages continuing to rise. After accelerating over the course of 2023 and recording average of 3.5% in November, compared with 2.8% in January, wages will remain strong in 2024.
However, activity will be hampered by sluggish external demand. While Spain recorded a record tourist year in 2023, notably on back of the return of foreign customers, sector recovery is set to slow. In addition, exports will continue to be limited by the weak growth of its neighbours, since 62% of its exports are destined for the rest of the European Union (68% including the United Kingdom). At the same time, companies will be faced with substantial financing costs (5% on average in October 2023) given that rates will remain high throughout the year despite the fact that the ECB will probably begin a cycle of key rate cuts in 2024. Private investment will be held back by this adverse environment. Amid this gloomy outlook, activity will nevertheless still be supported by European funds, receiving almost €80 billion in grants and €83 billion in loans for the period 2021-2026, amounting to a total equivalent to 12% of its GDP. Since less than a third of this amount was actually disbursed between 2021 and 2023, disbursements are expected to accelerate sharply between 2024 and 2026.


Progressive consolidation of public accounts

The 2024 budget, which should be approved during the first quarter, should confirm the gradual consolidation of public accounts. However, these will still remain largely in deficit, having deteriorated sharply during the health and energy crises. The reduction in the deficit will mainly result from the gradual withdrawal of most of the measures introduced to limit the impact of rising energy prices on households (reduction in fuel prices and taxes on electricity prices). However, the new government has extended the reduction in VAT on basic foodstuffs until June 2024, as well as free public transport for unemployed people and young people until the end of 2024. At the same time, the tax on the windfall profits of banks and energy companies (€3 billion in revenue in 2023) will be extended until 2025. As the ECB has begun to reduce its asset portfolio by not reinvesting some of the bonds reaching maturity, the cost of financing will rise even further. In addition, the country will have to cope with the return of European budgetary rules, although the new agreement reached at the end of 2023 will allow a more flexible and gradual budgetary adjustment path. In this context, the sustainability of the very high public debt will be one of the challenges in the medium term.
In addition, the current account surplus posted by the country since 2013 is set to shrink in 2024, due to the fall in foreign demand. The large surplus on the balance of services (expected to be close to 6% of GDP in 2023) will offset the structural deficits on the balance of goods, largely attributable to the country's energy dependence, and on the balance of income (remittances from the Latin American and Moroccan diasporas to their countries of origin). Despite a downward trend in recent years, the country's net foreign debt remains among the highest in the European Union (57.4% of GDP in Q2 2023).


Political instability heightened by the new coalition's dependence on the Catalan pro-independence party Junts

The outgoing socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) managed to hold on to power despite coming second in early general elections in the summer of 2023. Without an absolute majority (121 seats out of 350), the left-wing party was still in a better position to form a government than its rival Alberto Núñez Feijóo's right-wing Popular Party. As a result, Sánchez once again had to form a governing coalition with his main far-left ally Sumar (31), EH Bildu (6), ERC (7), PNV (5), BNG (1) and the Canarian Coalition (1). However, this time Pedro Sanchez also needed the support of the Catalan pro-independence party Junts (7) to achieve an absolute majority. To achieve this, Sánchez defended the adoption of a controversial amnesty law pardoning Catalan separatists involved in the organization of the independence referendum in 2017, including Junts leader Carles Puigdemont, who went into exile in Belgium. Although Sánchez's coalition government was fairly stable in its last term, the new government's dependence on Catalan and Basque pro-independence parties could make governance difficult and increases the risk of political instability. All the more so as Junts has reiterated that its support for the government throughout its term would be conditional on the organisation of an independence referendum, to which Sanchez remains opposed for the time being.


Last updated: February 2024


Cheques are widely used for corporate transactions in Spain. They offer similar legal safeguards under the juicio cambiario (Civil Prodecures Code) in the event of default. The same is true of promissory notes (pagaré), which, like bills of exchange and cheques, are instruments enforceable by law. If unpaid, they are recorded in the registry of unpaid acceptances (RAI, Registro de Aceptationes Impagadas). Attached to the Centre for Interbank Cooperation, the RAI is the country’s most important registry. It records all commercial payment defaults of over €300, thus allowing banks and other deposit institutions to verify a company’s payment record before extending credit.

In contrast, bills of exchange are rarely used commercially. In the event of defaults, they offer creditors certain safeguards, including access to special collection proceedings with instruments for negotiation under the civil procedures code (juicio cambiario). Bills of exchange that have been guaranteed by a bank can be somewhat difficult to obtain, but they do limit the risk of payment default by offering creditors recourse to the endorser of the bill of exchange.

Electronic transfers via the SWIFT network, widely used by Spanish banks, are a fast, fairly reliable and cheap payment instrument, provided the purchaser orders payment in good faith. If the buyer fails to order a transfer, the legal recourse is to institute ordinary proceedings, based on the unpaid invoice. Banks in Spain have also been implementing SEPA standards for euro-denominated payments.

Debt collection

Unless there are special clauses included in the commercial contract, the applicable rate of interest is that applied by the European Central Bank in its most recent refinancing operation (performed prior to the first calendar day of the half year concerned), with an additional eight percentage points. The rate is published by the Finance Minister every six months, in the Boletín Oficial del Estado. The statute of limitations for ordinary claims is five years.


Amicable phase

There are no formalities or conditions for the dispatch of a reminder to the debtor, but it is advisable to send a claim to the debtor first. The creditor can obtain guarantees for the payment of the debt.


Legal proceedings

If no settlement agreement is reached with the customer, the creditor can initiate a legal collection process, using civil procedure law (ley de Enjuiciamento civil).


Exchange proceedings

Exchange proceedings are used for claims based on bills of exchange, promissory notes and cheques. A judge of the first instance (juzgado de primera instancia) verifies that the ‘exchange title’ has been correctly implemented and then orders the debtor to make payment of both the principal amount and the late interests and costs, within ten days. The judge will also order a seizure for security (embargo preventivo) on the debtor’s assets, equivalent to the outstanding amount. The debtor has ten days to dispute the ruling.

If there is no payment received or opposition within the prescribed time, the judge will order enforcement measures. If necessary, the judicial representative will carry out attachment. When claims are contested, a court hearing is held to examine both parties’ arguments and a judgement should be handed down within ten additional days. Although this is time frame that is prescribed under Spanish law, it is rarely adhered to by the courts.


Ordinary proceedings

In addition to the juicio cambiario, creditors unable to reach a payment settlement out of court can enforce their rights through a civil procedure (juicio declarativo). Civil procedures are divided into ordinary proceedings (juicio ordinario) for claims of over €6,000 and oral proceedings (juicio verbal) – a more simplified system – for smaller claims. Both proceedings are initiated with a lawsuit served on the debtor.

The claimant is required to explain the facts of his claim and provide all supporting documents – either originals, or copies that have been certified by a public notary – on filing its initial petition. Prior to the investigation of the case, the judge will summon the parties during a first hearing (audiencia previa), using ordinary proceedings, to encourage a conciliation. If this is unsuccessful, the lawsuit will be pursued. The court can then order specific measures to clarify issues or facts that remain unclear, before passing judgment.


Monitory proceedings (Juicio monitorio)

For monetary, liquid and overdue claims, whatever the outstanding amount (previously limited to up to €250,000), creditors can now benefit from a more flexible summary procedure. The filing of a petición inicial is directly submitted to the judge of first instance (juzgado de primera instancia) where the debtor is located. After reviewing the supporting documents, the judge can order the debtor to pay within 20 days.

If the debtor does not respond, the judicial representative will inform the judge and request confirmation of the decision in favour of the initial request. The judicial representative then hands down a ruling confirming the conclusion of monitory proceedings, which is transmitted to the creditor. This allows the creditor to contact the Enforcement Office for the next phase. If the debtor disputes the ruling and provides motivated arguments for this within a written statement signed by a barrister and a solicitor, a full trial on the case will be instigated.


Enforcement of a Legal Decision

When all appeal venues have been exhausted, domestic court decisions become enforceable. If the debtor fails to satisfy the judgment within 20 days, the Court Clerk, upon request, can seek out the debtor’s assets and seize them.

Decisions on foreign awards rendered by EU countries benefit from enforcement conditions, such as EU Payment orders and the European Enforcement Order. Judgements rendered by non-EU countries are recognised and enforced, provided that the issuing country is party to a bilateral or multilateral agreement with Spain. If no such agreement is in place, Spanish exequatur proceedings will be followed.


Insolvency Proceedings

Pre-insolvency proceedings

A debtor has the possibility of negotiating a formal refinancing agreement (acuerdo de refinanciacion formal) with his creditors. This agreement must be signed by the court. Within this agreement, the parties are free to write off as much of the debt as they deem necessary.


Bankruptcy proceedings

Bankruptcy proceedings are launched by filing a petition for an insolvency order. After examination of the petition, the judge makes an insolvency order. Creditors are expected to notify their claims within one month of publication of the insolvency order. The court appoints an insolvency manager, who examines the debtor’s financial situation and establishes a report on its debts. If there is no opposition to the report, the insolvency manager submits the final version to the judge. The judge subsequently orders the commencement of the arrangement phase with its repayment schedule, viability plan and alternative proposals for repayment.

During these proceedings, the debtor may file for liquidation:

  • upon petition of the debtor, at any time;
  • when the debtor is no longer able to make the scheduled payments or the obligations incurred, as defined in the arrangement;
  • upon petition of a creditor, for breach of the arrangement;
  • upon petition of the judicial administration, upon termination of professional or commercial activity.

The judicial administration draws up a liquidation plan in order to realise (sell) the assets, consisting of the bankruptcy estate, which is submitted to the judge for approval. 



Liquidation in Spain aims to sell the company’s assets. During this phase, the company retains its legal persona. Liquidators are appointed to execute the process and they can also take over the function of administrative body and company representative. The liquidator cannot redistribute the company’s assets among its associates until all of its creditors have been paid and payment demands against the company have been settled. Aggrieved creditors can contest transactions that they believe may have taken place illegally during the allocation of the assets.

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