Last updated in March 2017

Political relations

German‑Spanish relations are close and friendly and are fostered by the positive basic attitude of each country’s population towards the other. Approximately 130,000 Spaniards live in Germany today while recent estimates put the number of German nationals living in Spain on a permanent basis, i.e. for more than three months a year, at well above 500,000. Over eleven million German tourists visited Spain in 2016.

The two countries enjoy a close bilateral dialogue. Federal Chancellor Merkel last visited Spain on 25 August 2014 at the invitation of Prime Minister Rajoy. She hosted a return visit by Prime Minister Rajoy to Meseberg on 31 August 2015. Federal President Joachim Gauck last visited Spain at the invitation of the Spanish King and Queen on 1 February 2017.

Economic relations

Germany is Spain’s second‑largest trading partner after France, and actually ranks first among suppliers of the country’s imports. In 2016, German suppliers continued to benefit from strong demand for investment goods and consumer durables.

Germany is a major direct investor in Spain. According to Deutsche Bundesbank figures, 1313 German companies (with a balance sheet total of over three million euros; 2022 according to the Spanish statistical office INE) have subsidiaries or holdings in Spain, many with their own production facilities. Tourism also plays a key role in the two countries’ economic relations. In 2016, 11.2 million Germans visited Spain, making them the third‑largest group of tourists, after the British and the French.

Cultural relations

Germany and Spain enjoy vibrant and intense cultural relations. Germans continue to display a great interest in Spanish language and culture, particularly literature and cinema. Among Spaniards, the economic crisis has led to a sharp increase in interest in Germany (including in the labour market and the dual system of vocational education as a tool for fighting youth unemployment) and the German language.

Germany has branches of the Goethe‑Institut in Madrid and Barcelona, with branch offices in Granada and San Sebastián. The Embassy and consulates supplement this work with their own high‑profile events and via initiatives that seek to promote German language classes at Spanish schools.

The German Archaeological Institute has a department in Madrid, which is responsible for Spain, Portugal and North Africa.

There are more than 1500 formal cooperation agreements between the two countries’ universities. German and Spanish institutions are engaged in numerous joint research projects, underlining the intensity of the cooperation between Germany and Spain. A key player here is the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with its close‑knit alumni network.

Since November 2011, the German Academic Exchange Service has run a new Information Centre in Madrid and has nine lectors and six language assistants working at Spanish universities.

There are seven German Schools in Spain – in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Malaga, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas – that offer the German university entrance examination (Abitur). In addition, there are two language learning schools (in San Sebastian and Seville), as well as two German vocational schools (in Madrid and Barcelona). With a total of more than 8000 pupils (including kindergarten children), these schools bolster intercultural relations. The schools receive long‑term assistance in the form of teachers seconded from Germany and material support. Besides the 11 above‑mentioned schools, Germany’s worldwide network of partner schools (PASCH) includes another 13 schools in Spain. The Federal Office of Administration – Central Agency for Schools Abroad has seconded a professional adviser for the Iberian peninsula with the aim of acquiring further schools offering the German Language Certificate (DSD) of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany.

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