The effects of the referendum in Catalonia are beginning to be felt away from the protests on the streets. Some of Spain’s largest companies are now debating whether to move their headquarters away from the region resulting from fears of an unstable business environment. Losing Catalonia is almost unthinkable for the Spanish government. It would deprive Spain of about 16 percent of its people, a fifth of its economic output and more than a quarter of its exports. There is widespread opposition to a Catalan breakaway among people in the rest of the country. But this is also potentially a huge blow to Catalan authorities if the exodus continues, as it could undermine tax revenues paid by companies.
Boards will meet from real estate company, Colonial and Abertis, which is one of the largest infrastructure companies in Europe. Some companies have already confirmed that they’ll move their head offices, including Spain’s third-biggest lender, Caixabank, and the fifth-biggest, Sabadell.
Concern is beginning to spread to other EU capitals about the potential impacts on the Spanish economy which is the fourth largest in the eurozone, and potential spillover into other economies. Some European officials are also worried that any softening in Spain’s stance towards Catalan independence could fuel secessionist feelings among other groups in Europe such as Belgium’s Flemings and Italy’s Lombards.