On Monday 8 April, the APPG travelled to Madrid to see the impact of culture, education and language learning on UK-Spanish relations.

The delegation inquired into the way in which the UK is perceived in Spain and the affect of Brexit on this perception. Although the UK is seen positively in Spain, the uncertainties around the negotiations and the future have caused doubts about this relationship. There are risks and several opportunities were also identified.

Education was shown to be a strong link between Spain and the UK which was made obvious by the increase of 32% in the number of young Spaniards coming to the UK to study at higher education. This could cause the greatest challenge to relations as visas and mutual recognition of degrees were outlined as the biggest concerns. Yet, this also offers opportunities as there are twelve institutions currently offering British degrees in Spain and the demand for English language skills is very high.

The UK/Spanish arts and creative industries are also very tightly linked with the Teatro Real and its director telling the delegation of their strong enthusiasm about UK opera. This enthusiasm however, was clouded by the concerns around the potential loss of mobility, trade and the UK’s membership of EUNIC. However, technical skills, audience development and international networking are British areas of expertise that Spain sees as important to learn from. 

The delegation visit offered clear case studies on the current role of education, the arts and language learning in UK-Spain relations. The trip also laid out the key challenges and opportunities that these sectors are facing, thus giving opportunity for constructive development.