Business Over Tapas 1 October 2015 Nº 131

01 Octubre 2015 998 votos

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Editorial:

While everybody won / everybody lost in the Catalonian elections (editorial: Defeat and Victory: El País in English) – apart from Podemos, which simply lost – an interesting sub-plot arose, with the Partido Popular dropping away and its nemesis, Ciudadanos, gaining a number of deputies, not only making it the leader of the Catalonian Opposition (whatever that’s worth), but also a strong contender for the leadership of the Centre Right in Spain come the December elections. Albert Rivera is young, attractive and evidently suitably patriotic without being seen as an old-fashioned crocodile (‘un caimán’), as Rajoy and his group are increasingly being labelled. Furthermore, the Ciudadanos don’t have to defend themselves against charges of corruption.

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Housing:

Why retire and stay in the UK? According to International Adviser, ‘Over half of rich Britons to retire abroad’. The article enthuses ‘...For those earning more than £60,000 a year, the leading destinations people hoped to visit or where they might move were France, with 19%, closely followed by Spain with 18%, the US with 16% and Australia, where 6% had their eye...’. And as for the poorer people? ‘...Those on lower incomes preferred Spain – also 18%, followed by Australia at 11%, France with 10%...

National home sale statistics from Kyero found here. Includes ‘...with respect to the nationality of the home buyers ... transactions carried out by foreigners resident in Spain increased year-on-year for the 16th consecutive quarter, by 17.2%, to 17,307 transactions...’.

According to the ‘ecologistas’ (that ruinous group which has done so little to allow wealth or job creation to despoil the pristine countryside of Andalucía and elsewhere), those owners of ‘illegal homes’ who have now found a way to ‘regularise’ their properties are generating pressure towards the return to ‘bricks and the property bubble’ supported by the ‘Federación Andaluza de Urbanizadores y Turismo Residencial’. Ecologistas en Acción says ‘...the old laws were permissive enough allowing homes in the countryside and expansive development plans, and thus the disaster posed by the enormous number of illegal housing, which some have estimated at half a million, the huge number of empty houses, the huge area of land occupied and the disaster of the massive occupation of the coast’. More here.

The invented halfway-word between ‘ilegal’ and ‘legal’ in Spanish is ‘alegal’ – ‘illegalish’. So we read that ‘150 alegal houses in Albanchez (a popular British settlement in Northern Almería) in two barrios have had their water cut’. The affected have been paying their water bills, but, alas! the original builder had not completed the preambles for water and the town hall had been forced to follow the law, cutting the water. Water is hard for home-makers, especially elderly ones (the residents in these neighbourhoods have an average age of 70), to do without. Thus, the town hall has met with the AUAN (here) in the search for a quick solution to the problem. A lawyer for the home-owners says that the situation is complicated and will take time to resolve. Meanwhile, the residents are bringing in their own water by road...

...and in nearby Arboleas, a Briton built and sold an ‘illegal house’ to a fellow Brit, and is now facing 4.5 years of jail. Typically Spanish adds – ‘...the 59 year old British citizen accused of defrauding his compatriots, by selling them as their ‘main residential home’ a detached house in Arboleas (Almería), which he presumably built without a licence on non-buildable land...’. La Voz de Almería also covers the story here.

The subject of the ‘illegal homes’ will be debated in the Andalucía Parliament on Wednesday October 7th. Story at Teleprensa here.

Hacienda has said that it will offer relief on the IBI (the annual rates on property) from January 2016 of up to 20% to those homes and offices that ‘are energy efficient’. Has your home had an energy inspection (certificado de eficiencia energética) ? El Mundo has more. The subject also receives attention from Spanish News Today here.

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Tourism:

The struggle between Mundosenior and Mundiplan for the Imserso gig (subsidised old folk’s winter tourism) has been resolved in a masterly way by the Minister for Heath and Social Services by giving the Canaries and Balearics to Mundiplan (Iberia, Alsa and others) while Mundosenior (Viajes Halcón and Barceló) remains with the mainland.

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Finance:

 

The Minister for Employment, Fátima Báñez, says that Spanish companies leave a mark of excellence wherever they go, bringing La Marca Española to the four corners of the world. She was speaking at a presentation of Spanish business in Latin America, and added that Spanish companies pay 40,000 million euros in taxes each year in Latin America and directly affect 25 million people across the region. Story at Crónicas de la Emigración.

‘Ikea investment will see number of stores double across Spain by 2025. The head of Ikea Iberia has revealed big expansion plans across Spain bringing €1billion in investment and jobs to the region. The new CEO of Ikea Iberia for Spain and Portugal, Tolga Öncü, told Spanish economic newspaper Expansión on Monday about his plans for expanding the company, including more jobs and double the stores...’. From The Local. Meanwhile, the opening of a new Ikea store in Casablanca has been postponed, since Sweden is a supporter of the rights of the Sahrawis, people from the region formerly known as Spanish Sahara.

The Volkswagen scandal has hit Spain as well: El País in English reports that ‘SEAT may have installed over 500,000 altered diesel engines into its cars’ and further, that ‘Industry experts said there could be between 250,000 and 300,000 vehicles with the tampered engines circulating on Spanish streets’. Later, El Diario puts the figure for ‘tricked-out’ SEATS, Audis, Volkswagens and Skodas at 683,600 sold in Spain. ‘All these vehicles are perfectly safe to drive’ says the manufacturer.

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Politics:

José María Aznar has turned on his successor Mariano Rajoy – ‘Your position is seriously compromised’, says Aznar in a communiqué following the Catalonian elections. ‘People will be asking, why was the Party of Government incapable of leading the Constitutionalist forces in Catalonia?’ Story at Vozpópuli.

Perhaps the gloomiest article yet regarding Rajoy comes from the left-wing site Público, whose headline on Tuesday reads: ‘The PP resigns itself to following Rajoy, whether he loses the Government, or even Catalonia...’. The party won’t hold an extraordinary congress, a leadership challenge or even a quick election, says the editorial.

Mariano Rajoy considers the rival to the Partido Popular in the December 13th or more likely 20th elections to be the PSOE, despite Ciudadanos meteoric rise in Catalonia. Ideal has the story here.

The leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, met with a group of twenty ambassadors from European countries in Madrid on Tuesday to discuss his party proposals. Ambassadors from Germany, France and Italy were among those present. Story at El País here.

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Catalonia:

Results from last Sunday’s elections here.

On Monday, the leader of the CUP (the ‘anti-capitalist hard-left’ smaller force originally tipped to join Artur Mas’ JxSi with the Independence vote), said that the support for Independence was not strong enough in Catalonia and therefore he would not back a unilateral declaration of independence – since the ‘yes’ votes had failed to win by numbers the majority of Catalonians – or indeed the candidature of Artur Mas as leader of the regional government. Mariano Rajoy said he was prepared to make concessions to the new Govern, but ‘within the law’. It appears that the national TVE on election night (long accused of being a mouthpiece for the Partido Popular) cut away from the Ciudadanos celebration within seconds... Who won the moral victory on Sunday? That depends (for the moment) on the newspaper you prefer!

By Tuesday, Xaviel García Albiol, the PP leader in Catalonia, had offered his unconditional support to Ciudadanos in a pact (as long as the CUP continued to not support Artur Mas for President). ‘We must continue to be decisive in defending the Catalonians within Spain’, he says. A union would still only produce 36 seats – a long way behind the JxSi with 62 – (68 are needed to take a majority). The Catalonian Parliament has until the 9th of November to create a government. The Ciudadanos leader Inés Arrimadas is already suggesting fresh elections: ‘With these results, Artur Mas should go home’, she added. Indeed, he has to go to court to face charges of sedition (see Courts below).

On Wednesday, absent any apparent progress in Catalonia, the always masterful Wolf   Street published an opinion piece on the dangers of political breakdown. ‘...In sum, the bitter tensions and divisions, both within Catalonia and between Catalonia and Spain, seem set to deepen and widen further, especially with the separatist factions determined to continue with the secession process and Spain’s central government seemingly determined to create judicial martyrs out of Mas and his colleagues...’. What a mess.

The most surprising thing about Sunday’s polls is that more Catalans didn’t vote in favour of independence, argues John Carlin in El País in English here.

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Corruption:

Rodrigo Rato - ex Minister of the Economy, ex Deputy Prime Minister under Aznar, once Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and later President of Bankia – (Wiki), has been embargoed for 18 million euros (the Tax Authority estimated his wealth at 24 million – or possibly more). Apparently Rato himself asked for the bond so as to free up his bank accounts (while expecting a far smaller embargo)! Story at Ideal.

Sometimes, the secret is to put everything in your wife’s name. But, not always. The wife of Iñaki Urdangarin’s partner Diego Torres, Ana María Tejeiro, has been embargoed by the Court for 15.8 million euros as part of the Nóos Case, according to El País here.

Forum Filatélico was a fund that invested in valuable stamps from 1979 until it was closed down by the Courts in 2006 (Wiki). The Ponzi scheme took some 269,000 small investors in what’s known as ‘the biggest fraud in the history of Spain’. Now the people behind the scam have finally received judgement: they must pay 2,259 million euros. El País has more here. Of course, the ordinary savers will never see their money, as Extra Confidencial points out.

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Courts

‘Artur Mas will declare as a defendant on October 15 for his November 2014 public consultancy on independence. The Catalan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJC) has also called to testify the previous deputy-president of the Catalan Govern, Joana Ortega and the Education Councillor, Irene Rigau...’. From Typically Spanish. More: ‘...The Catalan chief prosecutor presented a criminal complaint on the order of the State Attorney General, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, despite his objection (with the other eight prosecutors in the Catalan Government) of accusing the president of the Generalitat...’.

The European Union has fined the Valencian Government over six million euros for its poor management of European agricultural funds. El Mundo has the story.

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Various:

NATO begins major military exercises in Spain this Saturday to last until November 21st. Code-named ‘Trident Juncture’, the exercise will be the biggest held since the end of the Cold War. 30,000 troops will be involved from 30 countries, including 8,000 from the Spanish army, navy and air force. Regions affected by the exercises are primarily Zaragoza, Chinchilla (Albacete), Almería, Cádiz, Palma de Mallorca, Sagunto, Manises (Valencia) and Torrejón (Madrid). The Ministry of Defence will also provide tanks, warships, fighters and other support. The cost of all this to Spain? Nobody is saying. More at El Diario.

Cádiz: ‘Longer and higher than San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate, the bridge nicknamed La Pepa is over 5km long and stretches across a body of water 3.09 km in length...’ (From The Local). Hugely over-budget, the bridge to link Cádiz with Puerto Real was inaugurated last week by Mariano Rajoy and the Junta de Andalucía leader Susana Díaz. The Podemos mayor of Cádiz was – whoops – initially left off the invitation list. Video of the bridge here.

‘When former HBO executive James Costos was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Spain, many took it as a sign that the U.S. wanted to get tough on Spain’s unbridled piracy problem. But few could have expected just how energetically Costos has campaigned for the film and TV sectors, paving the way for shoots for the likes of Game of Thrones and the next instalment of the Bourne franchise. As Spain’s A-list film festival rolls in San Sebastian through the weekend, The Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela Rolfe spoke to the ambassador about how Spain is attacking piracy, juicy incentives for foreign shoots in Spain’s Canary Islands and Netflix’s October launch in the country...’. Here.

Netflix will begin in Spain on October 20th at a starting price of 8€ per month. Blog here.

A study on public transport finds that Spain has had more days of transport strikes than any other in Europe – and that the UK has had the least. Story at Gopili here. (Thanks John)

 

It’s not the fastest in the world (South Korea is), but Spain’s Internet speed is accelerating, with ‘...an average speed of 8.9 Mbps – an annual increase of 22%. Meanwhile, the adoption of high-speed broadband grew 14% quarterly and broadband at 2.1%; 14% of connections were made at speeds above 15 Mbps (up 60% per year), 31% were above 10 Mbps (up 55%) and 84% saw connections above 4 Mbps (up 13% )’. Story at Media-tics.

‘Few people have their words repeated and analysed as much as the Pope. But what happens when he doesn’t speak the most widely-spoken language in the world? Enter Gibraltarian Mark Miles. The humble priest is now the Pope’s foremost translator, putting his holy message into English for global audiences to receive...’. From The Olive Press.

Meet ‘...the seventeenth century nun Catalina de Erauso: After having been forced by her family to enter a convent, she seized the first opportunity to run away and embarked on a long voyage. Dressed as a man, she travelled through Spain and then set off to South America where she enrolled in the Spanish army and actively participated in the colonization of the Americas...’. A fascinating story retold in the Eurozine here.

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Brexit:

 

‘For the first time since November 2014, more British people want to leave the EU than remain a member. Until September support for remaining in the EU had been in positive territory for eight consecutive months. Between June, the last time we asked the referendum question, and September, opinion has shifted slightly – now leaving the EU has a two point lead...’. Found at YouGov. What would happen to the British residents in Spain if the UK were to leave the EU? Indeed, what would happen to us if the British ejected the Europeans working or living in the UK? If we had some representative or spokesperson, we could, perhaps, find answers to these questions, but the estimated two million Britons living in Europe have no voice at all, neither in Brussels nor in London...

 

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See Spain

 

It’s a pretty castle in Navarra called El Castillo de Olite. Here’s Eye on Spain: ‘It is one of the most visited monuments in the whole of Navarre. It is not surprising that as soon as you enter Olite it is as though you were in a fairy tale. With just a glance, the palace takes you back to the Middle Ages. Its turrets and passageways will delight anyone who loves art, architecture or history. In addition, the place has spectacular lookout points which afford views of the Mediaeval town of Olite...’.

Here’s the Sierra de Gato in Extremadura. Photos at El País.

The twelve oldest bars in Europe. Spain admits to five of these, including El Rinconcillo in Seville, opened in 1670 where they still write your tab in chalk on the bar in front of you.

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Letters

Hi Lenox,

Excellent newsletter. Really informative. Strong stuff. I liked it so much I gave you a free plug on my website. I'm looking forward to your next one already.

Un abrazo, Brett. (Website: Standing in a Spanish Doorway here)

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Finally:

Spanish violinist Ara Malikian (and evidently ‘something of a handful’) plays Vivaldi here. Ara has been nominated for the Latin Grammys 2015.

Business Over Tapas

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:

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