Business over Tapas 6 April 2017 Nº 203

Xornal de Galicia  06 Abril 2017  Sección; Especiales 263 votos

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Editorial:

Here’s where we are, and our apologies for another Brexit-related editorial. Michael Howard – a past Leader of the Conservatives and an ex-home secretary under John Major – suggests (no doubt in jest) that Britain would go to war against Spain over Brexit (video here). Mrs May produces her walrus-laugh for the cameras, Spain is appalled by this political gaff and gunboat diplomacy, the British residents in Spain are understandably alarmed, and Gibraltar is stuck (forgive us) between a rock and a hard place.

Now, Spain wants Gibraltar – that’s no secret – but it’s not stupid. It has offered a joint sovereignty with the UK, giving Gib full access to the EU – or failing that, it would consider the colony to be outside the borders of the European Union and would, simply, close the gate. It has never suggested ‘invasion’, so Michael Howard needs to be robustly disciplined by his boss.

To lighten the mood, one Spanish commentator we like suggests that Spain take Gibraltar... and give the UK Benidorm instead.

The United Kingdom, of course, is interested in trade. Brexit was about closing down everything else, but never trade. The UK inexplicably hopes for the same amount of trade with the EU as it currently enjoys – but it won’t get it without a price.

Well, we know that Spain wants Gibraltar. It will also – out of pique – put a spoke in London’s wheel by relaxing its opposition to a second referendum for Scotland. Fine, what else does Whitehall have to discuss in the next two years? What, in short, of the other twenty six EU states? Holland might want the British to consume more drop; Germany would like that 1966 goal disallowed; France apparently wants London to negotiate with Brussels in French (Heh!). We all know what the Republic of Ireland wants and maybe, for all we know, Romania’s proposal is that the British need to drive on the other side of the road by 2020. Maybe Portugal wants a larger slice of the fisheries and Greece wants its marbles back (so, for that matter, does Michael Howard).

You can’t fight all of these wars, Mrs May, not if you want to keep the trade in place.

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Housing:

The sometimes exuberant Viva says that ‘Leading bank expects a further 2.5% rise in Spanish property prices this year’. It adds that ‘...in all, the number of homes sold in Spain in 2017 is expected to top the half a million figure, with a growing proportion of those sales financed via Spanish mortgages. Low interest rates cannot last though, BBVA warns, and expects 2018 to mark a slight slowdown in the number of mortgages being taken out as interest rates rise...’.

Another piece of slightly unfounded optimism comes from Spanish News Today: ‘Property in Spain after Article 50: reasons to be cheerful after Brexit’. From the same source – ‘Property Prices Rise by over ten per cent in Barcelona and Alicante’. Here.

Parked van for rent in Ibiza. Lovely views. One can live in this van, with a bed, for just 650€ a month. The bathroom is over at the nearby gym. A good business for someone!

Spain is one of the cheapest countries in Europe to live, says Expansión, contrasting rents, utilities, transport, the gym and a pint of beer. The reader can press the button to the appropriate comparisons with the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland and Belgium. The bottom line – the average cost of living in Spain is 818€ against a European average of 920€. A pint of beer? France and Ireland will apparently charge 5€, where in Spain it only costs 2€.

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Tourism:

The Costa del Sol is positioned as leader in idiomatic tourism (that’s to say, Spanish-language schools) says La Opinion de Málaga here. There are 23 language schools accredited to the Instituto Cervantes in Málaga. Last year, 29,300 students came to their facilities.

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Seniors:

On Thursday 20 April, British MPs will debate a motion on state pensions payable to recipients outside of the UK in the House of Commons’. At least put this subject to bed.

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Finance:

The 2017 budget for Spain from El Huff Post: More money for pensions, defence, health and education. Funding for public works to be reduced. Charts and graphs here. El País takes a look here. The budget supposes a large jump in the growth of tax-money collected, to around 200,000 million euros (a rise of 14,000 million) – similar indeed to 2007 figures, says El Español here. Following complaints from the autonomies, extra funding was allocated to them, according to El Mundo, based on the volume of their protests!

S&P claims that Spain’s banks are improving their performance generally, says the news site El Independiente here. ‘The efforts of the Spanish banks to release real estate, strengthen their balance sheets and improve their profitability, has not gone unnoticed’.

From Wolf Street: ‘The future continues to look bleak for Spain’s most Italian bank, Banco Popular, which ironically once bore the slogan “Our Past and Our Present Guarantee Our Future.” Things have gotten so bad that when the country’s Minister of Finance Luis de Guindos was asked by a reporter today about the bank’s state of health, he responded: “the bank is solvent.” Which is kind of like a doctor saying, “the patient is alive.” Not exactly reassuring...’.

The Government has drawn 67,300 million euros from the Social Security reserve (the Pension Fund) since 2012, says El Mundo. Currently, there are 15,020 million euros in the fund, which is fed by social security payments and is (meant to be) used for pensions. The fund is slightly better than it could be, with clever investment use, and the Government has included a guarantee of a loan to the fund of up to 10,000 million in this year’s budget.

From The Corner: ‘Stop all the Lamenting: Spanish Industry is Really Taking Off’. An excerpt: ‘...What is clear, however, is that industry is exporting more and more. Last year, 2.43 million vehicles were exported, up 7% from 2015. The textile industry exported 7.3% more, once again beating records. It’s thought that this year the textile trade balance will even be positive for Spain. Even more spectacular was the 17% increase in medicine exports. And agri-food likewise: exports rose no less than 47% between 2011 and 2016...’.

While the larger companies here are seeing a turn-around, ‘Spain’s Mom and Pops Are Hurting’. Bloomberg says that ‘The country’s tiny businesses account for 34 percent of private-sector jobs, but they’ve become a drag on productivity’.

From The Olive Press: ‘Spain’s labour market continues to recover according to March statistics.  Last month, 161,752 people signed onto the social security system and 48,559 gained employment. These kinds of March figures haven’t been seen since 2001. Almost a third of the new jobs created were in hospitality (17,471) in preparation for the influx of tourists...’.

El Mundo writes of how Spanish companies in the UK are preparing themselves for after the Brexit. ‘...2016, despite the vote in favour of Brexit, was a year of almost unbeatable exchange between the two countries. The trade surplus was 7,968 million euros, according to data from the Spanish Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX). Our exports exceeded 19,000 million euros and the number of British tourists soared above 17 million (one in four was on vacation in our country)...’. El País reports that Ferrovial is freezing its investment in the UK until they have a better understanding of the impact of Brexit.

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Politics:

From Typically Spanish: ‘The president of Murcia has resigned. Sources in his entourage confirm Pedro Antonio Sánchez has abandoned his post ‘rather than face’ a motion of censure with Ciudadanos supporting PSOE. At 11am on Tuesday morning and accompanied by his councillors, Pedro Antonio Sánchez announced from the Palace of San Esteban his resignation as president of the Murcia Regional Government using ‘responsibility’ as the reason...’. He will be replaced by the young (33 years old) party member and provincial coordinator from Lorca, Fernando López Miras.

Angela Merkel is firmly against any more secessions from (or within) Europe, says a report in El Mundo here. She was speaking at the recent congress of the European Peoples Party in Malta.

There is concern among PSOE supporters as to how close to the wind Susana Díaz might be sailing as the makes her bid for secretary of the party. Who, for example, paid for all those buses that took the party faithful from Andalucía to Madrid? Diario 16 investigates.

Pablo Iglesias may lead the second party in Parliament, but the deputies there refuse to call him ‘the leader of the opposition’, says El Huff Post here.

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Corruption:

A scandal is brewing in the football world after it appeared that at least one second division team was throwing matches for a ‘consideration’. The team from Elda got carried away last week and allowed a 0-12 score on their home pitch. Italian crooks are thought to be behind this phenomenon. El País reports here.

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Catalonia:

From El País in English: ‘Independence vote will be called in June, Catalan regional deputy insists. Oriol Junqueras claims courts have no powers to impede poll, which is fiercely opposed by Madrid’.

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Gibraltar:

Here we go. ‘Abandoning its traditional neutrality, The EU gives Spain power of veto over Gibraltar following the Brexit’, says El Español. ‘The British defence minister prepared to defend Gibraltar to the ultimate consequences’, says La Razón. ‘London rejects a possible use of force to defend Gibraltar’, says El Mundo here. From Brexit Central comes ‘In the draft negotiating guidelines issued by the EU, it appears that Spain will be given a veto over a Brexit deal in respect of Gibraltar. If Spain did veto such a deal, it would be bad for Gibraltar – but it would be terrible for Spain (Thanks John). From The Local comes the story about the ghastly front-page from The Sun this Tuesday. El Español also notes that The Sun describes Spaniards in an editorial as ‘follaburros’ (not nice). From The Telegraph comes the story 'Outrage as Spain and EU accused of using Brexit to take back Gibraltar, as MPs say Britain will "not be bullied" '. 'Outrage'? Didn't those poor idiots see this coming? From The BBC comes ‘Brexit and Gibraltar: May laughs off Spain war talk’. El Mundo notes that Gibraltar has one firm supporter – the ‘independentistas’ from Catalonia. Let’s end this gloomy selection with ‘Stoic Gibraltar slowly comes to terms with life after Brexit. The British Overseas Territory is largely optimistic about its future outside the EU...’, reports El País in English (a trifle optimistically).

An opportune and explicatory article about Gib from The Guardian: ‘Saturday tapas and Sunday roast: Gibraltar’s true Europeans’. A quote: ‘...“We’ve been British for longer than most Americans have been Americans. But it’s not a question of Gibraltar being anti-Spanish; it’s a question of, well, we’ve never been Spanish. It’s like you going to Texas, which once belonged to Mexico, and asking them why they don’t want to be Mexican.”...’.

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Courts:

From Typically Spanish: ‘The judge has embargoed the Al Assad family properties for nearly 700 million €. The National Court and the French authorities are investigating the uncle of the current Syrian president for the presumed crimes of money laundering committed by the criminal organisation in Marbella – Guardia Civil searched 15 properties in the town and blocked some 100 current bank accounts. ... Guardia Civil took possession of several parts of Marbella to search luxury properties linked to Rifaat Al Assad, uncle of the current Syrian president, who was disowned by his brother in the 80’s...’.

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Brexit:

From a site called Diario La Ley comes a lengthy article called ‘Divorcio a la inglesa’ from a senior Spanish diplomat. It discusses the process of the British departure from the EU (and from Spain).

Michel Barnier, in discussing the break between the UK and the EU, gives an example that ordinary people would understand: ‘For example, you won’t be able to bring your dog or cat with you anymore on a visit to Europe’... MSN has the story here. Apparently, some 250,000 cats and dogs cross into Europe from the UK each year.

From Der Spiegel (in English): ‘Negotiation Fantasies Hopes and Delusions from Brexitasia. The EU isn't setting out to punish Britain for leaving the bloc. But it is almost certain that the ultimate deal will be portrayed as such by Brexiteers. The reason is the completely unrealistic expectations harboured by the British’. Excerpts: ‘...Theresa May finds herself in a position that could hardly be weaker. In only two years, she must lead the highly complicated negotiations to a successful conclusion -- a task which is, to put it mildly, rather ambitious...’. and ‘...The pro-Brexit press seems unperturbed. "The EU is on the verge of the abyss," the Daily Telegraph wrote on Wednesday. The growth of populism on the Continent, the strength of the British economy and Europe's terrorism fears, the paper claims, strengthen the UK's odds for a good deal. It argued that May needs to "go all in."...’.

From the El Cano Royal Institute: ‘Why Spain would like a ‘soft’ Brexit for the UK. Spain has good reasons for wanting the best possible relationship between Britain and the EU as a result of Brexit, but it cannot allow the UK to be better off outside the EU than inside it’.

Giles Tremlett, writing in El País in English: ‘The mother-ship is leaving, and more than one million British citizens are being set adrift in Spain and other countries in the European Union, exposed to the turbulence of a Brexit that is still to be defined and offers us no guarantees. Who is going to throw us a life raft? We have had nine months to get used to the idea, but it is still impossible to imagine what our lives will be like after Brexit. If the first blow was against our identities as Europeans, the second is aimed at our future. It seems clear that I will no longer be a EU citizen, despite having lived nearly half my life – 25 years – across the road from the Retiro Park in Madrid...’.

From The House of Commons Library: ‘This Commons Library briefing paper addresses the question of the status, post-Brexit, of EU citizens currently resident in the UK and those British citizens living elsewhere in the EU. It is updated to include a summary of select committee comment on the issue and to cover the Home Office's stance on the comprehensive sickness insurance cover requirement’.

From The Connexion (France) comes some good news: ‘Brexit resolution – including support for Britons in the EU – passed in European Parliament by large majority’. It says ‘A resolution setting out the European Parliament’s wishes for the coming Brexit negotiations – including paragraphs aimed at protecting British citizens in the EU - has been passed by a large majority. The final vote was 516 in favour, 133 against and 50 abstentions, with most opposition coming from right-wing nationalists and eurosceptics, including Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen and Nigel Farage...’.

From The Telegraph (excerpt): ‘...Could expats be deported by EU members? Almost certainly not. First, there are numerous political reasons for EU states not to do such a thing, including the treatment of their own, numerous, nationals living in the UK. Mass expulsions of citizens from another developed economy would also startle foreign investors and potentially cause economic turmoil in the expelling country. Expats would also enjoy significant legal protections that would apply after Brexit...’.

An interesting NSFW article from the writer Emma Clarke. She doesn’t like Brexit.

A comical Jonathan Pie video – with a seething rant at the anti-Brexit movement.

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Media:

Why does the media stay quiet?’, asks Vozpópuli. ‘No one bites the hand that feeds it’. How distorted is our world-view, as created by our interaction with the media? An example is given of how the ‘Footballs Leaks’ scandal (La Liga players fudging their taxes) has been airbrushed from the press by a powerful football baron and advertiser. It’s certainly the case that all regions of Spain invest heavily in ‘institutional advertising’ to keep, above all, friendly relations with the Media. Alarmingly, we read that, according to the AEDE press association, newspapers are the point of reference for only 5% of Spaniards, behind the TV (33%), Web-news (21%), Facebook (10%), Radio (7%) and Twitter at 6%.

Público’s ten ugliest headlines from the ‘right-wing pseudo-media’. Alerta Digital calls Angela Merkel ‘a grimy trollop’; OK Diario with its ‘Iglesias likes to kiss men on the mouth...’; Alerta Digital again ‘The Moorish women of Melilla are more prolific than rats’; another called Mediterráneo Digital asks ‘Why are feminists more ugly than normal women?’... and so on.

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Various:

An article from John Carlin in Jot Down examines the differences between Spaniards and Britons. He does so agreeably, without aspersions (en castellano).

Those cheerful articles about how beer or wine is good for you. These come about, apparently, invented by the ad agencies, because, you see, they can’t advertise their products in the traditional ways... So, sorry, it’s not science, just marketing. Saludabit reports here.

Goodness, the sensitivity of some. It appears that there are a few streets in Madrid with old-fashioned spellings of geographical names. Take the Calle Orense (should be Calle Ourense) or the Calle La Coruña (Calle A Coruna). Apparently. El Diario explains here.

From Como comes a useful article: ‘How to get a Work Visa for Spain and why it’s so difficult for non-EU Citizens’.

The newly appointed Head of Air-command (known by the acronym JEMA) is Javier Salto Martínez-Avial. He reveals to the Media that he is a deeply religious person ‘I try and have the presence of God in all my decisions’, he says. The story at El Diario here.

Ratings for Spain’s televised mass soar after Podemos calls for it to be scrapped. The far-left party had proposed a bill that would end the broadcast of the Roman Catholic Mass on La2 television in a bid to make Spain more ‘multicultural’...’. From The Olive Press.

Spanish supermarkets are beginning to phase out products that contain palm oil, a product which is bad for both the environment (in its manufacture) and also for public health.

The most famous of all the discos in Magaluf (Calviá), BCM, has been closed down by the town hall as has another called Tito’s. The two discos are owned by Tolo Cursach, currently in jail for a number of crimes including homicide, narco-traffic and juvenile corruption. More on this from El Mundo here.

The infidelity industry has now reached Spain, with at least 25 sites where you can cheat on your companion. Xornal de Galicia has the unpleasant story here.

Do you have any of these peseta coins, asks an article at the ABC. They’re worth a fortune. Of course, they are worth nothing, says the specialist Ruiz Calleja numismatic blog here.

Oh my Goodness, a joke on Twitter from someone called Ian Dunt, to the effect that Spanish food is ‘over-rated’, has led to a snowstorm of replies.

A useful forum for anything to do with Spanish wildlife is Iberian Nature here.

To keep everyone on their toes, border crossing by car can take up to four hours at the present time, as Spanish police slow down the traffic across. More here and here.

From Colin Davies blog ‘...Christopher Howse's book A Pilgrim in Spain, this is one of his observations I agreed with: ‘Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable’.

From A Novel in Spain: ‘Helping out the street sellers in Spain! I’m guessing people have been selling stuff on the streets in Spain ever since they invented the peseta. I’m not a massive fan of actually buying stuff from street sellers in Sevilla because necklaces, handbags, and scarves just ain’t my thing...’. This is a nice article about those who are at the bottom of the commercial heap.

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See Spain:

From Público comes ‘Ten cities you never thought would be so beautiful’. The first three are Zamora, Teruel, Vitoria – then they start on the rest of the world... Oh well, Three cities you never... etc. Almería is nice, too.

Semana Santa in Granada. ‘You may have already seen an Easter traditions in Spain and not known about the way that it is organised and what role each participant plays in the procession. This guide may help in time for this year’s Semana Santa’. From Piccavey here.

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Letters

Hi Lenox,

I must have got this from you, but in case not:     http://www.yourviva.com/blog/

It is wonderfully, relentlessly cheerful. Makes me want to buy dozens of properties in Spain...

Jake.

Dear Lenox

I have just seen JD and Lorna’s letter (BoT 202). It´s just that Brexit will do no good at all. From their letter they say that “we´ll get our fisheries back”. This is exactly what Mr Gove says too, because Gove´s fishermen lost their fisheries. Do JD and Lorna think that there will immediately be millions more to be earned with our fisheries. The fact is that there is not enough fish, and it had to be cut back, to stop them from wiping them out. Indeed, all fisheries have had to take a cut, because it is sensible for us to avoid a fish-war.  

What happens now with the EU will be exactly that Britain will again have to negotiate. And the negotiations will either be successful, or everyone will lose. It is very easy for politicians, perhaps more or less honest, but it is not only about arguments. If JD and Lorna have nearly 50% unemployment in their areas, then why don´t they move, as so many foreigners have done before? I have no doubt that at least many Brits will still be there after the dust has settled – two dishonest arguments by the Brexit!

Bill

Lenox,

I have been meaning to write to  you on this issue for a while now but laziness has won the day but,  having seen the wider irritation you remarks are causing,  I have pushed myself a bit harder.

Thank goodness someone else has complained as well and that is about your constant and naive bias against the Brexiteers (letter JD & Lorna A).  It is so bad as to be quite offensive and worrying in its lack of understanding of the real situation and the totally untenable alternative.

The letter was excellent with every detail being spot on. The one example the couple did not link in, and one of the main reasons for the Brexit decision, is Spain's disgraceful example of how not to run a country, exemplified weekly  in your very own BoT's: the horrific levels of corruption (just five cases amounting to 10 billion euros), the lack of judicial independence (97th in the list of 144 world countries says the World Economic Forum), the illegal control over the media and press, insanely disproportionate fines for laws that shouldn't exist in the first place and which have been declared illegal  by the EU  (law of declaration of worldwide assets: remember the Belgian who had his 350,000€ confiscated plus a 50% fine on top), illegal laws in relation to private installation of renewable energy sources, plus the illegal (financial) lobbying of the government by the power and hotel companies to ensure that the country has the highest cost electricity in Europe (up 35% in one year) and now control over the letting of private accommodation, not to mention the Google law and the general loss of freedom of speech.

If you add all this to the fact that financially, the whole rotten institution only continues to exist because it is printing money at the rate of 80 BILLION EUROS A MONTH, a good deal of which disappears into corrupt pockets and countries, never to be seen again. You then must make the reasonable assumption that these sorts of misdemeanours will apply to at least half the 27 EU countries and that, therefore, these examples alone, although only a fraction of the total misdemeanours that are actually happening, should be sufficient to convince any half sane person that the whole thing is totally untenable.

The main thing to consider is this: the Brexiteers are going to experience some level of disturbance for a limited period of time until things are sorted out trade wise. On the other hand, if you vote Remain, you are going to be tied to a sinking, corrupt, unmanageable boulder for evermore, with no possibility of ever getting free in the future. You are well and truly doomed for eternity and will be dragged down into the abyss with the rest, because there is no doubt in all sensible minds, that the whole institution will collapse in the very near future, sad to say. The incumbents do not have the intellect to foresee what they have committed to.

As the letter said, people must try not to think of their own limited position but must consider what will be best for their country and its future existence: and that is that it must be free of this terrible association into which it has become inadvertently and very unfortunately, entangled.

You'll be saying that you don't understand why the people of Gibraltar don't want to be Spanish next!

MGW

To those who support Brexit (but still have the patience to read BoT):

As you know 48% voted in the referendum against Brexit. A respectable minority - hardly Monster Raving Loony numbers.

Probably 95% of the Europeans (of which - as far as I am concerned, I am one) - would have voted against Brexit if they'd been asked.

The Gibraltarians voted about 98% against it.

I'm not so exceptional, I think.

Here at the BoT, aside from my own (sometimes opinionated) editorials, I limit myself to linking – in an impartial fashion – to news stories of general interest.

My godfather was Andrew Fountaine, who started and financed the National Front back in the mid-fifties. I know all about xenophobia and populism and the likes of Nigel Farage from him.

I don't want to bore readers about the Brexit, but the truth is that it will affect all of them.

Lenox

*An interesting Guardian article called ‘Europe in Crisis? Despite everything, its citizens have never had it so good’.

Dear Mr. Napier,

We were disturbed to be told by a friend that on a visit to the eye clinic at Huercal Overa hospital, a Spanish man stood up and (as translated for her by her translator) harangued her and shouted at the clinic nurse that this lady "MUST" be last to go in and she should not be there anyway. He stated that the UK was no longer in the EU (wrong of course), that we are receiving free treatment paid for by the Spanish people (also wrong of course). Our friend WAS left to last and she was most upset.

We think it would be really helpful if somehow the Spanish public could be informed - maybe via the Spanish press - that the UK remains in the EU for the next 2 years and the Spanish do not pay for our healthcare. Also that the majority of British here are retired and so are putting into the economy without taking out. We put money into the bars/restaurants/shops. We pay our taxes and the roads, hospitals and other institutions are improved because of this along with the numbers of police, local doctors etc. due to our registering on the Padrón.

If the attitude becomes so antagonistic that many British return to the UK, it would be Spain's loss. However, we do feel the majority of Spanish people do not think the way this rude man obviously does.

To re-iterate, it would be helpful if this was brought to the notice of the Spanish public somehow.

Kind regards

Christine and Michael

PS. Needless to say, we voted Remain!

*The UK paid £674 million in 2014-2015 to other European countries for the treatment of UK nationals (here).

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Finally:

Puerto Rico duo Zion and Lennox (what a splendid name!) perform ‘Embriágame’ on YouTube here.

Business over Tapas 6 April 2017 Nº 203

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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