The exodus of companies from Catalonia to other autonomous communities began in 2012 as a slow trickle. This was the result of the decision of former president Artur Mas to open the Pandora’s box of independence and thus give the starting gun to the pro-Catalonia process. But the massive business flight began in 2017, with the illegal referendum of 1-O called by the fugitive Carles Puigdemont and his ephemeral declaration of independence.
And it was a haemorrhage of the productive fabric which has not stopped since then and that even increased again in 2021. Last year Catalonia was once again the region that lost the greatest number of companies, with the exit of 935 companies and the entry of only 587; in other words, a negative balance of 348 companies, the highest of all the Autonomous Regions, according to a report on changes of registered office by D&B Informa.
And while the business fabric of Catalonia is bleeding to death, that of Madrid continues to gain muscle, reaffirming itself as the preferred destination for companies that decide to move. Of the 5,403 companies which moved their headquarters in 2021 from one region to another (20% more than in 2020), 2,085 chose Madrid as their new destination, 41% of the total. Madrid is no stranger to the outflow of companies, but taking into account that many more companies entered than left (1,493), the net balance was favourable to the region. It added 592 new companies, unparalleled, the largest net balance amongst the autonomous communities (the second was the Balearic Islands, with 76).
Of the 2,085 that arrived in Madrid last year, 418 came from Catalonia (20% of the total), compared with the 300 Madrid companies deciding to move to Catalonia. On this occasion, the biggest transfer of companies to Madrid came from Andalusia, with 481 transfers. The region continues to be the great pole of attraction in business mobility between autonomous regions thanks to its tax relief policy, its commercial freedom and its increasingly favourable climate for all types of business. Thus, 219 companies left the Region of Valencia for Madrid, as did 205 from Castile-La Mancha, 189 from Castile and Leon, and 163 from the Basque Country.
Madrid’s ability to attract business muscle, thanks in part to its low taxes, has placed the region at the epicentre of the tax harmonisation announced by Sánchez’s government for 2023. This would force the region to raise taxes such as those related to Heritage and Inheritance and Donations.