It’s been a long week for the British expatriates in Spain. First came the huge demonstration in London (which – a trifle oddly – was hardly mentioned by the British media). 100,000 people are said to have demonstrated peacefully against the Brexit last Saturday. These included a few groups of ex-pats from across Europe. On Tuesday, the Scottish parliament backed a second independence referendum (here). Then, a news-story emerged to say that Northern Ireland could possibly decide to join with the Republic of Ireland, and thus stay in the EU – with Westminster’s blessing! Finally, yesterday, Wednesday 29th of March, the Prime Minister officially pulled the plug on the British membership of the EU, thrusting the country (and its passport holders) into a doubtful future (the full letter to Donald Tusk here).
Five European newspapers - The Guardian (UK), La Vanguardia (Spain), Le Monde (France), Spiegel Online (Germany) and Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland) - published a common editorial yesterday (Wednesday) calling for the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals in other EU countries to be the first priority of Brexit negotiations. Here's The Guardian’s version.
‘Land registry data points to 19% increase in Spanish property sales in space of one year
Among the recent and sustained signs that the Spanish property market has well and truly picked up comes news from the country’s Land Registry that adds further weight to the narrative… There are a number of ways of measuring the health of Spain’s real estate sector – including notary data, mortgage data, national statistics institute (INE) data and trends seen on leading search platforms – and the land registry is perhaps one of the most accurate of them all...’. From Viva here.
From Spanish News Today: ‘BBVA forecasts 2.5% increase in Spanish property prices this year. Conditions are still favourable for moderate growth in the real estate market’.
The Briton who bought a ruined village in Asturias for 45,000€. An interview at Vice.
From El Mundo comes the report of the British tourists who are systematically suing all-inclusive Spanish hotels for allegedly giving them dysentery, using dodgy British ‘no win – no fee’ lawyers and thus getting their holidays for free. This practice is becoming common in Spain, with the Balearic hotels reporting fifty million euros lost last year to these practices. ‘Gastric illness has increased among tourists from 2015 to 2016 by 700%’, says a politician reporting to the Balearic government. Vans painted up as ‘Claims Farmers’ now routinely park outside Spanish hotels looking for a score (and a commission from the ‘vulture-lawyers’)...
The town hall of Palma will be fining any and all tourist rentals in the city from this summer, with fines as high as 40,000€. This is chiefly because of the high increase in the prices of rentals for local people there. El País has more. One way of spotting a rental apartment – perhaps from Airbnb...? Look for beach towels hanging on the railings (here).
‘Britain’s social care crisis will escalate after Brexit as tens of thousands of pensioners living in the EU return home, cabinet ministers have been warned. Failure to secure continued access to healthcare for elderly Britons based on the Continent could trigger many to move back to the UK, ministers were told...’. From The Telegraph here.
‘I would rather die here, watching the sunset with a glass of wine in my trembling fingers, than in some gray tenement in Manchester’. Thus begins an article from La Información about British pensioners resident in Spain.
The Spanish congress is debating a law over ‘death with dignity’ says El Huff Post here.
From El País in English: ‘Spain’s Social Security shortfall rises to €18.6 billion in 2016. Revenue from growing affiliations fuelled by job creation cannot keep pace with increased spending. The fiscal gap in Spain’s pensions system is getting wider every year. Job creation has been growing at a rate of 3% over the past two years, and consequently so have Social Security affiliations. But this increase in revenue for the system still does not match spending...’.
Typically Spanish does a daily economic update ‘Spanish Business Brief’. From Tuesday’s column: ‘The Government and the unions have agreed on a massive offer of jobs in public employment, to be signed tomorrow, according to UGT it will allow 250,000 current trainees become fixed employees, with the objective of reducing precariousness in the civil service over 90% by three years. ‘The plan stabilises, for example 130,000 workers in public health, 10,000 in justice and more than 100,000 teachers’ However there will be only 1% net creation of employment as explained Cristóbal Montoro for compliance with Brussels’. The story of the massive creation of public sector jobs also appears in El País.
‘Why are we not getting any benefit from all that energy we are able to produce and which we are not using? Spain has one of the biggest renewable infrastructures in Europe, particularly as far as wind energy output is concerned. In fact we have the capacity to produce much more electric energy than we can consume. On average we use 35,000 megawats and have 100,000 installed. With all that, we still pay much more for our electricity than our European partners: in January 2017, our energy bill was 35% higher than in January 2016 and we are paying almost double what Germany pays...’. The Corner here.
‘...There is talk of the end of the crisis, but at home there are children and grandchildren living with minimal expectations of founding a family, or of having a work-contract for more than three months, or of earning more than 766 euros a month...’. El Mundo begins an article about ‘the generation that will live worse off than its parents’.
A study from the Royal Institute ElCano (A Spanish think-tank) on the popularity of the single currency: ‘This paper tries to understand why despite the pain in the South of the Eurozone and the anger in the North the majority of the people still support the euro’.
The huge gaming project of the American-owned Cordish Group – hotels, shops, casinos and homes – has been rejected by the Madrid regional government as being unrealistic.
‘Susana Díaz, leader of the Andalusian Socialist party and current president of Spain’s southernmost region, has finally thrown her hat into the Socialist party leadership race, announcing before a packed auditorium in Madrid on Sunday that she will take on ousted PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez and former Basque regional president (Lehendakari) Patxi López in the race to become the party’s next general secretary. Backing Díaz with a show of support via their frontline presence at the rally on Sunday were the party’s “old guard” leadership, including former Spanish presidents Felipe González and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, as well as former party general secretaries Alfonso Guerra y Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba...’. From Progressive Spain. From El Diario, ‘Susana Díaz looks to show with the support of Felipe González and Alfonso Guerra that she is capable of unifying a broken PSOE’. Another article from El Diario here discusses the two irreconcilable differences between Díaz and Sánchez. Finally, just to be sure which candidate El Diario (a left-wing news source) prefers, here’s an article called ‘The Good, the Bad and The Ugly’ featuring the three stars Sánchez, Díaz and López.
The Association of the Widows of Lugo are a tough lot of gals. They have just successfully had the Councillor for Culture for La Coruna fired for an improper carnival poster showing a cartoon of an inebriated pope (ahem!). The picture and article are here.
From Typically Spanish: ‘The Murcia Parliament is to debate the motion of censure against the regional president Pedro Antonio Sánchez on April 5 and 6 after an agreement reached on Wednesday between PSOE, Ciudadanos and Podemos...’.
The ex-president of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Arturo Fernández, was in court last week explaining how local empresarios had supported the regional Partido Popular with donations back in 2007 by paying money to the unfortunately-named Fundescam. ‘We would give money to the foundation of the PP to keep in the good books of The Establishment’, he told the judge in the Caso Púnica inquiry. El Mundo has the story.
Why does the Government refuse to provide explanations to the ‘Caso Football leaks’ asks El Mundo here. That’s to say, the scandal of some first-division footballers who have not been straight with the tax-man. Written questions from opposition groups in Parliament have not been answered and tempers are said to be fraying.
From The Local: ‘Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pledged on Tuesday to invest €4,200 million in Catalonia by 2020 as a battle for hearts and minds rages between Madrid and regional authorities that want independence. At loggerheads with the separatist government in the north-eastern region, which plans to hold a Scotland-style independence referendum against Madrid's will, Rajoy has launched a so-called "operation dialogue" in a bid to ease tensions and win over public opinion...’.
The ex-foreign minister José Manuel García Margallo has admitted in a TV interview that his government asked friendly foreign states to criticise any thought of Catalonian independence says Público (article plus video here). ‘The plan was a success’, says Margallo, ‘...in that Catalonia lost everything in the international arena’.
‘Spain’s Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, has told a leading German newspaper that Madrid will not be taking “any type of punitive measures” at the border with Gibraltar after Brexit. Sr Dastis has made similar statements in recent days to Spanish media, but his comments to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung are the first time he has spoken about the border to the international media...’. From The Gibraltar Chronicle.
Now and again, a Dutchman called Peter Janssen likes to paint his body with provocative words and to leap over the ruedas at the bullring to make his point of view made to, precisely, the people who are the least interested in the world in knowing it: that's to say, bullfight fans. He's done this, to date, on sixteen occasions. The aficionados have paid their money to see a legal (and state-approved) cultural spectacle, only for Dutch Peter or one of his mates to make his tiresome statement. It's, at the very least, a presumption that his view of things is better than anyone else's. So, he gets fined. Anything from 300 to 30,000 euros for being a public nuisance. He doesn't care - a 'foreign charity' pays up. Understandably, the toro people are fed up by this. The 'Fundación Toro de Lidia' have now scraped together some funds and gone to find some expensive lawyers, who in turn have come up with a cunning plan: Janssen and his friends are now guilty of a form of violent coercion which is punishable by a jail term. The Dutch crusader, currently in foreign parts, is now 'en busca y captura', which may help cool his jets if he ever returns to Spain. More at El Mundo here.
Possibly the most ridiculous story of the week involves 21 year-old Cassandra Vera, the one who made the jokes about the appalling Admiral Luís Carrero Blanco on Twitter (Franco’s chosen successor, assassinated by an ETA commando in 1973). Yes, she got charged and sentenced to a year. Worse still, now with a criminal record, she can’t get a scholarship and won’t be going on to become a teacher. ‘This has ruined my life’, she says. An editorial in Público refers to this remarkable situation as ‘a rare judgement against the crimes of franquísmo – the crime of taking the piss, of course’. Many critical ‘Tweets’ are displayed.
From an editorial at The Huffington Post on the formal letter from the British Government to Donald Tusk: ‘...May then writes that putting “our citizens first” should be an early goal, effectively marking it as her top priority. “We should remember that at the heart of our talks are the interests of all our citizens,” May wrote in the Article 50 letter. “There are, for example, many citizens of the remaining member states living in the United Kingdom, and UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union, and we should aim to strike an early agreement about their rights.”...’. A blog from the same source suggests that the British, under EU law, will be able to continue living in the EU with full European rights anyway. ‘...EU Directive 2003/109/EC gives the right of permanent residence to most non-EU citizens who have lived in the EU for more than five years. Most UK expats of more than five years’ standing already have that right as EU citizens - under Directive 2004/38/EC. So, when they cease to be EU citizens after Brexit, they should be entitled to the same rights as long-term non-EU residents. It will only be a matter of changing the label under which they enjoy those same rights. It is inconceivable that UK expatriates will not be allowed to carry over rights acquired as EU citizens to a situation where they are non-EU citizens. As no other EU member state (except Greenland, which is not comparable) has seceded before, the situation of an EU citizen ceasing to be an EU citizen is unprecedented...’. Conflict of Laws also treats the subject here with ‘Brexit, but rEEAmain? The Effect of Brexit on the UK’s EEA Membership’. From Reuters: ‘The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator spelled out on Wednesday the bloc's conditions for talks, saying securing the rights of some 4.5 million EU and British citizens living abroad was paramount. But Michel Barnier, the European Commission's point man on London-Brussels talks, also warned of the risks if no deal was reached as Britain sought to leave. Barnier said the likes of Polish students and Romanian nurses in Britain and British pensioners in Spain faced great uncertainty over rights to residency and access to the labour market, pensions, social security and education...’. So, in short, it’s maybe yes, maybe no.
A recent demonstration in London by those who are against the Brexit gathered scant attention from the British media (including the BBC, who essentially ignored it altogether). Here it is, covered by El Periódico. The best banners from last Saturday’s march can be seen at The Olive Press here.
From the sometimes fake news champion The Express: ‘Spain's EU exit on horizon as “only a miracle” can save nation from debt bubble bursting. Spanish university professors and economists are calling on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to come clean over its debt burdens as calls for the country to leave the European Union grow’. Well, let’s see – one does: Roberto Centeno from the far-right Intereconomía group (Wiki). But even he makes no mention (nor can there be one) of Spain wanting to leave the EU.
Another story from The Express may have more truth behind it: ‘...Around 500 ex-pats are in the process of attempting to become Spanish nationals because they “do not recognise their country anymore” after the referendum vote, according to Diario Sur. One third of the UK citizens who live in Spain are retired, own a house and receive a pension, which they feel is being threatened by Britain’s EU exit. The 310,000 Britons in Spain are sick of “being treated like bargaining chips” and are turning away from their homeland as a result...’ (As always with this newspaper, the comments are horrid). The subject returns here: ‘British expatriates go to extremes to survive Brexit’ says Expansión here. This includes ‘a notable increase’ in Britons seeking Spanish nationality.
Podemos and Ciudadanos say they will support a proposal of law presented by the PSOE denouncing "intolerable levels of censorship and manipulation in the public television RTVE by the Partido Popular" and asking "to recover the independence of the Corporation and the pluralism in the parliamentary election of its departments". The possibilities of reforming the decree that has allowed the PP to appoint its own directors seems unlikely however since: the PP has on its side the evident support of the members of the Audiovisual Council together with their absolute majority held in the Senate. The story at El Español.
Odd, perhaps, that the right-wing press are all so evidently in favour of Susana Díaz. Público has some fun with the glowing coverage for the left-wing leader from newspapers like ABC, La Razón and El Mundo here.
Another fake news-site here in Spain is 12 Minutos. They have silly items which are sometimes taken as gospel by Facebook users. But – it’s even better, because the user can create his very own items. An example of this, found by the ABC from Seville, says that Susana Díaz has registered herself as living in Madrid to avoid the calamitous inheritance taxes in Andalucía. Of course, some people believe everything they read...
The European Parliament is in favour of dropping any idea of a ‘Google Tax’, or recompense to editors for brief quotes taken from their sites by aggregators and search engines, since they provides traffic, while it also accepts that copyright protection for longer literary pieces should be tightened. Mediatics has the story here and the draft report from the Commitee of Legal Affairs can be seen here in pdf.
If you intend (as Lenox does) to take out Spanish nationality (failing a European one), then you’ll need to pass a test on both the idioma and the cultura. The Instituto Cervantes is in charge of the exams (a doddle for BoT readers). Here’s a sample exam on general knowledge. Go! (An example of the British citizenship test is here).
The ‘Reputation Institute’ gauges which companies in Spain have a good rep with the public. And the winner is... Central Lechera Asturiana. You can find the Top 20 here.
José Manuel Soria, the ex-minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, remembered as the man who opposed renewable energies in Spain, is now being paid handsomely to speak at international conferences in favour of renewables. As Groucho Marx said: I have my principles, and if you don’t like them, why then I have others...’. Primavera Valenciana has the story here.
How do the Spanish pharmaceuticals stop generic drugs from entering the market? Easy.
Amancio Ortega, sometimes the richest man in the world, has donated 320 million euros to la Sanidad Española to buy equipment for the diagnostic and treatment of cancer.
From El País in English: ‘Why female athletes in Spain are banned from getting pregnant.
Contracts for sportswomen often contain a clause restricting motherhood, but no one will speak out’. The article begins: “In Spain, the Sports Law enshrines certain rights for men, and only men, that are not granted to women. By law, women cannot be professional sports players, given that only male leagues enjoy professional status.” María José López, a lawyer from the Association of Female Basketball Players (AJUB), sums up pithily the reason why she believes Spanish sportswomen are doubly discriminated against...’.
From The Guardian: ‘The Spanish socialist party (PSOE) may have slumped to its worst election results in 40 years, dumped its leader in a very bloody and public coup, and ceded much of its political turf to the anti-austerity Podemos movement, but things are finally looking up, if only sartorially. The party’s logo – a left fist clenched around a red rose – is undergoing something of a fashion renaissance after being used on a range of T-shirts in the US...’. The rose and fist has been taken by Stussy as a design for a range of clothes.
From The Olive Press: ‘Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Don Quixote is to begin filming for the eighth time. The British producer began creating the film some 20 years ago, but a series of unfortunate events – including flash floods which washed the set away – has repeatedly delayed filming. The project is so accident/prone that it inspired a documentary, entitled Lost in La Mancha, with the tagline, ‘They’ve got the story, but they’ve lost the plot.’...’.
A small Spanish company is attracting attention with its revolutionary new design for lightweight crutches. Find them here.
If you are really poor, says Público, then you can always follow the humorous advice of the ‘so-called leftist El País’ and eat your boots.
The origins of Spanish city-names can be found here.
A City That Never Sleeps. Get to know Madrid. A post from Breaking Borders here.
37 pictures of Andalucía from the air from Magnet here.
A blog called Tenerife Social: ‘a deeper look at the Friendly Isle’.
Hi Lenox, BoT 201: Excellent editorial and a rock solid evaluation of the real estate situation. Regards, Per
Dear Lenox, I am appalled at your intolerant nonsense (all written for ReMOANERS) which doesn't allow any consideration for the clear facts that indicate that Brexit will be the best thing that has happened to UK since 1945. The evidence is all around us and daily. Do you want to be with James Dyson and the Bamford family - or with Michael Heseltine, Ken Clarke & Tony Bliar ? It's a no-brainer, as they say. Please give us one good reason for staying in this rotten club? We plead with people for such information and nobody can find a word so say. Their decisions are always based on ME, ME, ME - whereas this isn't about individuals! It's about the NATION and what is good for it. No association of any kind (let alone one like the EU) has ever succeeded in the history of the world so why does this ghastly corrupt, undemocratic, FM-swamped, socialist-driven EU attract you so?? It is the EU in Brussels that is undemocratic ... that is mega-corrupt - and running an economic dead-zone ... so why can you not accept this? You live in an area of nearly 50% unemployment amongst the under 25s and yet support the EU who are doing NOTHING about it this tragedy??? It's really unbelievable. All the best educated in this area are Brexiters and many of the rest are (at last) repenting and moving over to being Brexiters but can you really not accept that there are a myriad of other facts that do NOT support the ReMOANERS?? We are the majority, after all. In the English language press you are supported only by the FT/Economist, Grauniad/Observer, the BBC and the red-tops. The FT are usually wrong (and have a "programme" - they twice told people to vote for Bliar !!). That's not very re-assuring company to be in, is it? The rest of the UK press worked out that Brexit was the right answer months ago. We'll get away from the CAP (resulting in cheaper food); we'll get our fisheries back again... Many of us cannot wait to be free after being tricked into joining an increasingly FEDERAL EU - which the nation did not agree to and clearly doesn't want. Nor its awful EURO going anywhere soon. And as for things changing here in Spain - forget it - that's just piffle and nonsense put out by the whingeing reMOANERS. We'll still get our pensions and medical cover. You need to be more balanced - goodness knows I have sent you enough stuff which illustrates how wrong you are - so why do you allow us no voice at all? No, we will not join any demos - I think we'll throw a party at the local Parador - the only problem is that so many would come we couldn't afford it. Give us a break please and try for the sake of everyone to be a bit more balanced and objective. In less than 10 years you can blush in private as you observe Britain's regained status in the world. We owe it to our grandchildren to get out now before the whole f***g thing collapses around us. Best wishes - JD & Lorna A
Note to non-British readers. There is a chasm between pro and anti Brexit supporters. A part of this can be found in the language in accepted use. Here ‘Remoaners’ refers to the ‘Remainers’ (in turn, we call the leavers ‘Quitlings’). Tony Bliar is Tony Blair (obviously). ‘The Grauniad’ is The Guardian.
Spain’s ten best movies, according to this.
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Business over Tapas 30 April 2017 Nº 202
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
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