Natural resources and energy
Spain has good resources on minerals, especially
potash, sulfur kis, iron ore and mercury. The country
imports most of the energy consumed, but more recently
oil reserves have been discovered outside the Canary
Islands and shale gas in the Basque Country. Spain is a
world leader in producing wind power.
Most of the coal and iron ore assets are in the
north, including in Asturias. There is also one of
Europe's largest gold deposits. In southwestern Spain
there are mercury reserves. Andalusia in the south has
assets of copper and lead. Spain is one of the world's
leading producers of plaster, fluorite, sand, gravel,
cement, marble and granite.
Major exports by Spain with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Spain is poor on natural resources that can provide
energy and the country imports a large part of the
energy consumed, mainly oil and natural gas but also
some coal. About two-thirds of the energy goes to the
industrial and transport sectors. In 2017, oil accounted
for 44 percent of energy consumption, natural gas for 21
percent, renewable sources for 12 percent, nuclear power
for 12 and coal for 11 percent.
Domestic energy production consists of a mixture of
natural gas, nuclear power, coal and renewable energy.
However, the country's own coal production is being
phased out because the extraction is expensive and the
coal is of poor quality. About one-third of our own
energy production comes from renewable sources such as
hydropower and wind power, just under a third from
natural gas, one-fifth from nuclear power, just over 8
percent from coal and just over 5 percent from oil. Most
subsidies are given to solar energy.
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More recently, oil reserves have been discovered
outside the Canary Islands and shale gas has been found
in the Basque Country. Spain has good capacity to
receive liquefied natural gas (LNG). It is believed that
there may be oil and natural gas around the islands of
the Balearic Islands, but so far plans for exploration
there have encountered patrol as the methods that are
intended to be used for these could damage the rich
wildlife in the waters around the islands.
The large quantities of water consumed by the fruit
and vegetable cultivation and tourism industry in the
south have exacerbated the water shortage along the
Mediterranean coast. In addition, soil degradation is a
major environmental problem. In November 2002, a severe
environmental disaster occurred when at least 25,000
tonnes of oil leaked into the Atlantic when the
Liberia-registered oil tanker Prestige sank outside
Galicia. Fishing on the Galician coast, the country's
foremost fish and seafood area, was hit hard.
At the Paris 2015 climate summit, Spain negotiated as
part of the EU, and pledged, among other things, not to
let global temperatures exceed 2 degrees. This will be
done, among other things, by reducing greenhouse gas
emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared with the 1990
level. In February 2019, the Spanish government
presented a plan that, by the year 2050, will no longer
emit any greenhouse gases.
In the fall of 2019, Madrid took over the hosting of
the UN climate summit Cop25, when Chile had to cancel
it. Environmental and climate issues have usually not
been a priority area of Spanish politics, neither
among the elected or the voters. Among other things, the
European Commission has pointed out that Spain is one of
the EU countries that in the years 2015-2018 has
violated most of the Union's rules on environmental
legislation. The country also had major shortcomings
when it came to recycling. On the plus side, it was
found that Spain is now the EU country, which, after
Germany, generates the most electricity from wind power,
while increasing the use of solar energy. Since 2004,
there has also been a special prosecutor for
environmental cases. The country also has a high
proportion of nature reserves, including the Donana
National Park, whose wetlands are a refuge for many
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
2,571 kilograms of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
5356 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
233 977 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
5.0 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
16.3 percent (2015)
Ready for trial against Princess Cristina
It is now clear that Princess Cristina, the sister of the new king, will be
facing trial for tax offenses alongside her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín.
Urdangarín is suspected to have embezzled millions of euros from various sports
foundations. If Cristina is convicted of the crimes, she faces up to four years
in prison. An indictment on money laundering has already been cleared, but she
has paid a fine of € 600,000. At the same time, the new king has presented new
ethical guidelines for the royal family, which will start to apply after the
turn of the year. Members of the royal house are no longer allowed to receive
precious gifts. His father Juan Carlos has, among other things, received two
luxury cars from the United Arab Emirates.
Health Minister Mato resigns
Spain's health minister Ana Mato resigns after allegations that she was
favored by a corruption deal in which her ex-husband is suspected of
interference. She makes a statement saying she lacks any knowledge of this, but
that she is leaving her ministerial post so as not to harm the government.
Madrid dismisses Mas's independence plan
At the end of the month, Mas presents a plan for Catalonia to become
independent in 2016, which includes a regional new election in 2015. It is
dismissed by the Madrid government as a "step to nothing". Mas also wants all
Catalan parties who want independence to agree on a common list in order to be
as strong a counterpart to Madrid as possible. However, it is unclear whether he
will be able to convince the more leftist party ERC to join.
Catalonia holds "referendum"
On November 4, the Constitutional Court orders the Catalan government to
suspend the referendum on independence on November 9, pending the court's access
to Madrid's arguments. Nationalist leader Mas says, however, that the vote must
be held as planned. It is also implemented, organized by grassroots movements
that advocate independence. Nearly 81 percent of voters vote yes to an
independent Catalonia. The turnout is around 40 percent. After the election, Mas
and several other Catalan politicians risk prosecution for holding the vote. The
Spanish Chancellor of Justice has launched an investigation into Mas,
Catalonia's Vice President Joanna Ortega and Education Minister Irene Rigau for,
among other things, disobedience and abuse of power and for hindering the course
of justice because they "supported, planned and funded" vote in spite of a
ruling in the Constitutional Court. The leader of five Catalan parties writes in
a letter to the prosecutor that the regional parliament will take collective
responsibility for the vote on November 9.
Podemo's largest party in a new opinion poll
According to an opinion poll on November 1, Podemos is the Spanish party with
the highest support, about 27 percent, more than both the PP and the Socialist
Party. Podemos has its strongest base in southern Spain.
At least 30 are arrested in new corruption deal
At the end of October, at least 30 local politicians and officials in Madrid,
Léon, Murcia and Valencia were arrested on suspicion of receiving bribes from
private companies, which in turn were awarded public missions worth € 250
million. In late October, Prime Minister Rajoy apologizes to the Spaniards for
the PP's involvement in the latest corruption deal.
New corruption scandal
At the beginning of October, a new corruption scandal creates headlines. It
is a matter of the fact that politicians from several parties, businessmen and
union leaders, who have been members of the board of the banks of Caja Madrid
and Bankia, or held managerial positions there, have used credit cards from the
banks for expensive holiday trips, restaurant visits and other luxury
consumption. According to newspaper reports, they have disposed of just over EUR
15 million between 2003 and 2012. A criminal investigation is being launched by
the Supreme Court. Among the suspects are Rodrigo Rato, a former IMF chief and
Spanish finance minister, as well as a person in a senior position in the
Spanish court. Rato denies the crime and says he thought the credit card was a
Mas defies court, but calls referendum on "consultation"
Nationalist leader Artur Mas says that Catalans will be allowed to vote for
independence despite the Constitutional Court's objections. But he calls it a
"consultation" and not a referendum, and that the November 9 election therefore
does not constitute a violation of the constitution. The result should not be
binding either. The elections will be held in municipal buildings, which,
according to Mas, means that no support from the Madrid government is needed.
The Catalan Parliament votes to approve the new referendum. Some analysts
criticize the Spanish government for not trying to find alternative ways to
resolve the Madrid-Barcelona conflict. They believe that the Spanish
Government's hard line has contributed to increased support for independence.
Opinion polls indicate that about 60 percent of Catalans want an independent
state and that as much as 80 percent want them to vote on the matter. However,
there is disagreement between more moderate forces within Mas's own party that
wants to wait with the vote, and the ERC that is pushing for. The Madrid
government also threatens to turn to the Constitutional Court again to try to
stop the advisory "consultation" as it asks the same questions as those
previously blocked by the Court: Do you want Catalonia to be a state? And if so,
do you want Catalonia to be an independent state? The Madrid government also
threatens to turn to the Constitutional Court again to try to stop the advisory
"consultation" as it asks the same questions as those previously blocked by the
Court: Do you want Catalonia to be a state? And if so, do you want Catalonia to
be an independent state? The Madrid government also threatens to turn to the
Constitutional Court again to try to stop the advisory "consultation" as it asks
the same questions as those previously blocked by the Court: Do you want
Catalonia to be a state? And if so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent
A referendum is postponed following a decision in the Constitutional Court
Artur Mas signs a decree in which he decides to get rid of the referendum on
Catalan independence. Two days later, however, the Constitutional Court decides
to postpone it. The Court says it needs more time to decide whether the
referendum is in violation of the Constitution.
Hundreds of thousands independently demonstrate Catalonia
Hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating in Catalonia for the region
to become independent. The Catalans' campaign is said to have gained new power
by the referendum on independence to be held in Scotland on September 18.
Disagreement over how many protesters are. According to Catalonia police, there
are about 1.8 million people, while a spokesman for the Madrid government says
it is about half a million.
Referendum plans create tension in Catalonia
The planned referendum on independence creates political tensions in
Catalonia. Politicians are divided between those who think the referendum should
be held even if it is rejected by the Constitutional Court and those who think
it is better to try to get negotiations with the Madrid government. Nationalist
leader Artur Mas, who heads the regional government in Barcelona, is trying to
sit on two chairs at the same time. While he says he is not prepared to do
anything that contravenes the law, he says the referendum should get rid of. If
it is postponed, there is a risk that his government will lose the support of
the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), which could lead to re-election. Opinion
polls show that 45 percent of voters do not think the referendum should be held
unless the Constitutional Court gives a clear sign, and that 23 percent are
prepared to push through it anyway. Other studies show that four out of five
Catalans would like to vote for independence.
Protests against test drilling for oil outside the Canary Islands
The government is triggering a flood of protests when it gives oil company
Repsol the right to drill for oil five miles outside the Canary Islands. The
local government threatens to terminate relations with Madrid if the Canary
Islands are treated worse than the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean
(Mallorca with several islands). The waters off the Balearic Islands are also of
interest to oil companies and the government there has bluntly refused to test
drilling if there is the least risk of negative environmental impact.
Mas does not back down in the referendum question
Catalonia's leader Artur Mas is adhering to his plan to hold a referendum on
independence in November. According to Mas, in September the Catalan parliament
will adopt the laws needed to hold the referendum. According to Mas, the vote
could be postponed if the Constitutional Court finds that Catalonia has no legal
basis to implement it. The Court has already rejected the Declaration of
Independence issued by Catalonia in 2013, and the Spanish central government has
threatened to turn to the Constitutional Court to stop the planned referendum.
Pedro Sánchez's new socialist leader
Economics professor Pedro Sánchez is elected new leader of the Socialist
Prosecution is brought against Princess Cristina
A judge formally prosecutes Princess Cristina, sister of the new king, for
tax evasion and money laundering. She is asked about the role she played in her
husband Iñaki Urdangarin's business.
Migrants are prevented from entering Melilla
Thousands of African migrants try to cross the barriers from Morocco into the
Spanish exclave Melilla but are prevented by Spanish border guards. Since
several hundred migrants have managed to enter the Spanish exclave earlier this
spring, the fences have been strengthened.
King Felipe VI takes over the throne
On June 17, the Senate also approves the new law with 233 votes in favor and
only five against. On June 19, Crown Prince Felipe takes over the throne, as
King Felipe VI. This is done at a formal ceremony in Parliament where he
promises to respect the constitution. At his throne, the new king says he wants
to be a monarch who lives close to the nation's citizens and is willing to
listen to them. "This is the beginning of a new monarchy for a new era," he
says, adding that citizens have the right to demand that he be an example that
follows ethical and moral principles. He also expresses his sympathy with the
Spaniards who were hit hard by the economic crisis. The ceremony is low-key and
without any pomp and parade, no foreign dignitaries are invited. In some places
there are hopes that the new king, who also speaks Catalan, should be able to
help bridge the contradictions between the Madrid government and the regional
government in Barcelona. Before taking office as king, Felipe says he hopes to
serve a country that is both united and diverse.
New abdication team is adopted
A new law of abdication must be adopted by Parliament in order for the change
of faith to be possible. Congress votes for the new law, with the numbers 299
for, 19 against and 23 abstentions. In connection with the vote, Prime Minister
Rajoy says that the monarchy is the best symbol of the Spanish unity state.
King Juan Carlos abdicates
King Juan Carlos announces that he is abdicating in favor of his son, Crown
Prince Felipe. A process for a change of faith begins the same day. Juan Carlos
is 76 years old and has been king since 1975. He was long regarded as one of the
world's most popular monarchs thanks to his efforts for democracy in the 1970s
and to prevent a coup attempt in 1981. In recent times, however, a corruption
business around his daughter and son-in-law has become a burden to the royal
house and the Spaniards' confidence in Juan Carlos has decreased. Even a luxury
hunting trip to Africa in the midst of the Spanish crisis deteriorated the
king's reputation. The King's health is also faltering and he has undergone a
number of operations. Only a few hours after the king announced that he would
abdicate, the first demonstrations began, demanding a referendum on whether or
not to abolish the monarchy. According to opinion polls, 62 percent of Spaniards
want such a referendum to be held at some point. 49 percent say they support the
monarchy and 36 percent want Spain to become a republic. Street protests against
the monarchy are being held in Madrid, the Basque Country and Valencia.
EU election setback for PP and PSOE
The European elections will be a setback for the two largest parties. The PP
gets 26 percent of the vote and 16 of Spain's 54 seats in the European
Parliament, eight fewer than 2009. But the Socialist Party also backs and gains
23 percent and 14 seats, nine fewer than in the last election. The United Left
(IU), which includes the Communist Party, comes in third place with 10 percent
of the vote (six seats). Instead, a number of small parties, especially on the
left, have won votes. Among them is the newly formed Podemos (We Can) that has
emerged in the youth movement protesting against the government's tough
austerity policy; Podemos gets 8 percent of the vote and 5 seats. The Social
Liberal Unit, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) gets 6.5 percent and four seats,
three more than before. Catalonia wins an alliance, which includes Catalonia's
Republican Left (ERC), two seats (and receive almost a quarter of the vote in
the region). Despite the decline, representatives of PP say they are satisfied
with the result. The party is one of the few government parties in the EU that
manages to retain its position as the largest party in the EU elections. The
turnout is 45.8 percent, but is higher in Catalonia than in other Spanish
regions. After the election, the Socialist Party, PSOE leader Alfredo Pérez
Rubalcaba resigns. A new party leader will be appointed at an extra-partisan
congress in July. s leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. A new party leader will be
appointed at an extra-partisan congress in July. s leader Alfredo Pérez
Rubalcaba. A new party leader will be appointed at an extra-partisan congress in
Regional leaders are murdered
A Spanish regional leader in León, Isabel Carrasco from PP, is shot dead. The
act is believed to have been carried out by a woman who previously lost her job
in the municipality, and her mother, and who recently lost a dispute over money.
Both of the suspected women are said to be members of the PP. The older of the
women later confesses to the murder. Most Spanish parties are pausing in their
campaigns ahead of the European Parliament elections on May 25.
No to the referendum in Catalonia
The Spanish congress votes by an overwhelming majority against a petition
from Catalonia to hold a referendum on independence at the end of the year.
Court declines independence declaration
A unanimous constitutional court ruled that the Declaration of Independence
adopted by the Catalan regional parliament in 2013 contravenes the constitution.
According to the judgment, Catalonia has no right to vote for independence.
Catalonia leader Artur Mas, of the Assembly and Unit (CiU) says his government
will find a way to circumvent this. Reviewers speculate on whether Mas is really
prepared to hold a referendum despite the court ruling. If Mas decides to
postpone the referendum, it could create a rift between his bourgeois Ciu and
Catalonia's Republican Left (ERC), which seems to want to move forward despite
the court ruling.
Migrants move into Spanish exclave
In the middle of the month, several hundred more African migrants manage to
cross the barriers and into the Spanish exclave Melilla. About 20 people are
injured in connection with this, and more than 100 are arrested by the Moroccan
Migrants enter Melilla
By the end of the month, a few hundred African migrants are taking over the
high fences of the Spanish exclave Melilla.
The disarmament of ETA begins
International inspectors announce that the disarmament of ETA has been
initiated and that some of its weapons have been "taken out of service". The
International Commission of Evidence (IVC), from which the inspectors come,
consists of former politicians and diplomats but has not been recognized by the
PP drops in support
The ruling People's Party (PP) is allowed to see their opinion figures fall.
The party is also characterized by strong internal contradictions and layoffs.
It is also being challenged by a new bourgeois party, Vox,
formed in January by former party members.
Tax reform is announced
Plans for a tax reform are announced. The purpose is both to streamline tax
collection and to simplify the current system, as well as to reduce marginal and
corporate taxes. The Spanish system is considered ineffective and tax revenues
have fallen from 41 percent of GDP in 2007 to 37 percent in 2012.
The royal family reports its finances
The Spanish royal family announces how big their income is and what their
money goes to. It is seen as a step by King Juan Carlos to regain public
confidence after all the scandals. According to the 2014 budget, the king
receives just over EUR 140,000 a year plus just over EUR 152,000 for
representation. The budget for the entire royal house is just under EUR 8
million, of which a large part goes to salaries.
14 migrants die after being shot with rubber bullets
At least 14 people die when panic erupts when Spanish police fire rubber
bullets against migrants on February 6, swimming trying to enter the Spanish
exclave Ceuta. The EU and human rights organizations later call on Spain to
explain why the migrants were shelled.
Protests against new abortion team
New major demonstrations against the proposal to tighten abortion legislation
(see December 2013) are held at the beginning of the month.
Princess Cristina is suspected of eco crime
A judge announces that Juan Carlos's daughter Cristina is being called for
questioning on suspicion of tax fraud and money laundering. Thus, the judge goes
against a prosecutor's earlier decision not to hear the princess. The suspicions
apply to the business where the princess's husband is being investigated for,
among other things, embezzlement of six million euros of state funds.
Dissatisfaction with the monarchy
In a survey, 62 percent responded that King Juan Carlos should abdicate. Less
than half of the respondents support the monarchy, but most are still positive
to Crown Prince Felipe.