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High plateaux and mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada dominate much of mainland Spain, which is on the Iberian Peninsula. To the north, the country is bordered by France and Andorra, and to the west by Portugal. Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and two autonomous exclaves in North Africa: Ceuta and Melilla.
The most important sectors of Spain’s economy in 2012 were wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (25.3 %), public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (18.1 %), and industry (17.4 %).
Spain’s main export and import partners are France, Germany and Italy.
Geographical size: 505 990.7 km2
Population: 46 818 219 (2012)
Population as % of total EU population: 9.3 % (2012)
GDP: € 1.029 trillion (2012)
Official EU language(s): Spanish
Political system: parliamentary constitutional monarchy
EU member country since: 1 January 1986
Seats in the European Parliament: 54
Currency: Eurozone member since 1 January 1999
Passport-free travel? Yes, Schengen Area member since 25 June 1991
Presidency of the Council: Spain has held the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU 4 times between 1989 and 2010.
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Spanish government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Spanish presidencies:
Jan-Jun 1989 | Jul-Dec 1995 | Jan-Jun 2002 | Jan-Jun 2010
More on the current presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
Spain has 21 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
Spain has 21 representatives on the Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Spain also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As Spain's "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Member countries' financial contributions to the EU budget are shared fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather to focus on the needs of all Europeans as a whole.
Breakdown of Spain’s finances with the EU in 2012:
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
The money paid into the EU budget by Spain helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how Spain benefits from EU funding.