There’s some doubt over whether Otto von Bismark said this (but, after all, somebody did): ‘Spain is the strongest country in the world. Century after century trying to destroy itself and still without success. When it stops trying it will once again be a world leader.' Sometimes this news-letter, Business over Tapas, appears to feature material which suggests that Spain is indeed endlessly trying to shoot itself in the foot.
As Catalonia continues to have no evident solution and the senior players are prohibited from either having a meeting or indeed having an extra yoghurt with their Christmas lunch in clink. Spain’s extraordinary Sun Tax, its galloping corruption and its remarkable treatment of Len and Helen Prior, who lost their home in Vera ten years ago this week (while Spain itself lost thousands of jobs and many, many millions of euros in direct consequence). But life goes on – tricky sometimes; too much paperwork of course and sundry other small irritations.
But, what a splendid country! What a great place to live!
Here’s another quote we like (taken from Colin Davies’ entertaining blog): ‘Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable’.
At Business over Tapas, we shall continue to bring you useful news proceeding from many sources – without pop-ups, advertising, marketing tricks, inconsequentialities or too much poor English.
Right now, of course, it’s subscription time! Keep us going, so we can keep you informed!
‘Spain’s Development Ministry has reported a surge in property sales since the beginning of October, giving a 16 per cent increase on last year’s figures. Between September 2016 and the end of September this year, just over 510,000 homes were sold, with 121,000 finding buyers during 2017’s third quarter. The figure is only slightly lower than in the third quarter of 2008, just before the financial crisis hit. Foreigners living in Spain accounted for 20,257 homes purchased during 2017’s third quarter, a 17.6 per cent increase on last year’s figures for the same period. The most popular provinces were La Rioja with just under a 33 percent increase, Murcia with 25.6 per cent and Andalucía with 23.6 per cent, with Melilla and Ceuta not far behind...’. From Emigrate.
‘...Despite a greying population, the growth in the number of British retirees in Europe is slowing. In 2005 the number drawing a British pension in the four main continental destinations (France, Italy, Spain and Germany) grew by 8%; by 2010 the growth rate had fallen to 4.8%; last year it was 0.9%. Other measures also point to a recent fall. On present trends, 2018 could be the year that the population of British pensioners on the continent begins to decline...’. A rather silly article from The Economist (capped with a delightful photograph though).
‘Sabadell Solbank must return almost 500,000 Euros to buyers at the Cala Romántica development in Mallorca for a failed off-plan property development. This was ordered on 19th December 2017 by the First Instance Court Number 8 of Marbella, Málaga. The responsibility derives from the issuance by CAM bank (now Sabadell Solbank) of a General Line of Guarantees for the refund of advanced payments according to Law 57/1968. This is a new example of the effectiveness of Law 57/1968 when the developer has abandoned the off-plan project or is in a situation of bankruptcy. It is one of 44 separate cases won by the CostaLuz-DeCastro teams for more than 80 individual clients during 2017 using the Keith Rule strategy against the off-plan property developer’s bank. ..’. Part of a Press Release from Keith Rule and Costaluz Lawyers.
From Almería Hoy: ‘"The new LOUA (Andalucía’s urban planning laws) does not protect citizens and only benefits promoters."’ The lawyer of AUAN points out that the new rules "will leave out the possibility of a proper regularization of houses built in settlements like those in the Almanzora (Almería)”. There are still around 13,000 ‘illegal homes’ there.
Helen and Len Prior have now been without a house for ten years as theirs was demolished in a pointless exercise by the Junta de Andalucía on 8 January 2008. Since then, they have lived in their garage which had another licence and thus escaped the atrocity. The house was in a quiet area outside Vera (Almería). There are other – unscathed – houses nearby, and the zone is neither on the beach, nor in a flood plain, nor on the motorway, a river or in a national park. As Almería Hoy reports, the Priors were advised by their lawyer to sue the local town hall and, after a lengthy period plus an appeal (all costing money), the Priors have decided reluctantly to accept a final compensation offer of a third of the amount claimed. Bad for the Priors, of course, but as the article says – terrible for Spain’s reputation abroad. In a statement to Business over Tapas, Mrs Prior says ‘Len and I will not be celebrating our ten years of purgatory. We are hoping to be paid by the end of February/March and just turn our backs on it all. It is only one third of the money we requested and thought we were entitled to, but to be honest, we thought the powers that be were hoping for us to die without being paid at all. So living this long has to be a result...’.
‘New horizons – thinking of moving abroad before Brexit? Moving house is a daunting task. Moving house by yourself over the age of 55 to a foreign country is utterly terrifying. But also exhilarating and exciting...’. From The Tonic here.
The ‘ghost’ airport of Corvera, built during the ‘boom’ to service the many attractions offered by Murcia (an airport only a short distance away from Murcia’s other airport) is now to begin operations, says El País here. The regional president of Murcia (it’s both a province and an autonomy) Fernándo López Miras, said with satisfaction that the new airport ‘will bring progress, tourism and jobs’. We wait for the opening. In Think Spain, the subject is also raised: ‘...Rajoy says the 'arduous task' of moving operations from Murcia-San Javier airport, near Cartagena, to Corvera has now started, and that he wants to see the new terminal up and running before the end of 2018’. In the same article, and referencing the AVE line from Murcia to Madrid, President Rajoy ‘...confirmed that this spring, the first phase of the AVE line between Murcia City and Monforte del Cid in the south-west of the province of Alicante would be completed. The full journey to Madrid from Murcia via AVE will be two-and-a-half hours, Rajoy explains...’.
Seventy seven million eight hundred thousand foreign tourists visited Spain up to the end of November, says the INE, quoted in El Mundo. Will we reach eighty? Probably. Indeed, the likely figure, says The Corner, will be around 81.5 million.
The headline at Hosteltur reads: ‘The Orlando of Europe will be built in Salou’. The article interviews the mayor of Salou, Pere Granados, who was attending the annual meeting of the ‘Alliance of Major Tourist Resorts in Spain’ (the others being Arona, Adeje, Benidorm, Calviá, Lloret de Mar, San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Torremolinos). Salou is the local point for the attractions of Port Adventura, Ferrari Land and, soon, the Hard Rock (here).
Can’t afford the Imserso trips? Now, perhaps, you can. The government has made it easier for the elderly to join the Imserso vacations. As Preferente says ‘The Mixed Committee (Congress-Senate) for relations with the Court of Auditors has approved unanimously a resolution addressed to the Institute of Senior Citizens and Social Services (Imserso) to facilitate the participation of senior citizens in holiday programs who are forced to renounce these trips, even if they meet the requirements, due to lack of resources...’
Another article on co-housing – elderly people sharing both a home and the running costs. While there are a few of these (organised by the residents themselves) the idea still hasn’t quite taken off in Spain. El Diario looks at the situation here.
If car sales are a guide to increasing prosperity, then the news that sales rose in 2017 over the previous year by 7.6% to a whopping 1,230,000 units will be welcomed. El Mundo reports here.
Spain's jobless queue shrank by 7.8 percent last year, the labour ministry said Wednesday, as unemployment continues to recede from the record highs seen in 2013 during the economic crisis. The ministry said 3.4 million people were registered as out of work last year, some 290,000 fewer than in 2016. But one of Spain's most influential unions, UGT, retorted that the labour market was still suffering the effects of the crisis and austerity measures implemented by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government. "Jobs are increasingly temporary and in December just four out of every 100 contracts signed were long-term and full-time," it said in a statement...’. More at The Local here.
The minimum wage is to rise in Spain – 4% in 2018 to 736 per month, another increase of 5% in 2019 (to 783€) and a further 10% in 2020, to 850 euros per month. There is a caveat in this: only if the economy warrants it. El Boletín looks at the small print here.
With all said and done, tourism will save Spain this decade says Hosteltur here.
‘Spain has agreed to boost its military spending by more than 80% by 2024. It comes after US president Donald Trump blasted NATO members for not contributing enough to the military alliance...’. Found at The Olive Press here.
With so many funcionarios beetling away and making life so much easier for the rest of us, it’s no surprise that much of the budget must go to pay them. El Independiente says that fully half of all monies raised by the autonomous regions go to pay their public employees.
‘The Castor Project; Spaniards are paying for the failure of this gas storage installation’: headline at The Corner. The project, to store gas against emergency shortages, was green-lighted in 2012 and shelved a year later following untoward seismic activity off the Tarragona coast (around 1,000 earthquakes), leaving the tax payer massively out of pocket. ‘...A few days ago, however, the Constitutional Court offered a possibility which could resolve the problem. It declared null and unconstitutional the 1,350 million euros compensation to Escal UGS. According to the court, there is no reason to justify the approval of the compensation via decree law, given that this measure is only justified when there is a situation “of extraordinary and urgent need”...’. The story is covered also by Público here.
Facua, the aggressive consumers’ organisation (here is their page in English) denounces that the electricity bill for consumers has risen by an average of over ten euros in the past four months. El Mundo reports.
The ‘ayuntamientos del cambio’ (the larger city halls run by Podemos and similar groups: Zaragoza, Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona) have between them cut their debt by 452 million euros in the past year – from debts of 6,354 million to under 6,000 million. El Boletín checks the maths here.
‘Spain earns less in IVA than any other country in Europe except for Ireland and Italy in relation to its GDP, according to EU statistics agency Eurostat. Although IVA income has gone up from its historic low of 3.9% in 2009, one of the worst years of the financial crisis, it is still well below the EU average and has dropped from the 6.5% of the GDP recorded in 2015...’. Story at Think Spain here.
Despite its shocking result in Catalonia – the PP scraped up a fourth counsellor at the last recount – the party, nationally, is still the leader in popular support nationally. Probably thanks to Ciudadanos’ good result and agile politics in general, the youthful centre-right group is now in third place, behind the PSOE (what’s Pedro Sánchez up to these days?) and in front of the ‘past-its-prime’ Unidos Podemos. Here are the latest polls with La Razón.
Following the poor showing of his party in Catalonia, which finished in sixth place (just in front of the eccentric animal-loving PACMA), El Diario asks: Is this the end for Mariano Rajoy? Another article at El Diario wonders if Ciudadanos will pick up PP supporters in the rest of Spain.
According to El Infiltrado, the PP, PSOE and Ciudadanos owe, between them, over 100 million euros to the banks. The PSOE is in the worst shape, with 75,330,000 euros owed, followed by the PP at 47,480,000 euros.
There are better than nine hundred Partido Popular members under investigation or being processed for corruption, says Diario 16 here. Here are some of the investigations currently active: Gürtel, Púnica, Lezo, Acuamed, Nóos, Andratx, Auditorio, Baltar, Bárcenas, Biblioteca, Bitel, Bon Sec, Bomsai, Brugal, Caballo de Troya, Camps, Campeón, Carioca, Carmelitas, Castellano, Catis, Ciudad del Golf, de la Construcción, Lino, El Robledillo, Emarsa, Eólico Canarias, Faycan, Fitur, Funeraria, Guateque, Ibatur, Imelsa, Inestur, Lasarte, Líber, Madeja, Marchela, Mercamadrid, Naseiro, Nuevo Cartagho, Ópera, Orquesta, Over Márketing, Palma Arena, Patos, Piscina, Porto, Rasputin, Scala, Taura, Terra Natura, Torres de Calatrava, Torrevieja, Totem, Troya, Túnel de Sóller, Turismo Joven, Umbra, Uniformes, Parques eólicos, Zeta…
Corruption, says the news-site, costs 90,000 million euros a year to the taxpayers.
‘...Spain has not complied with any of the eleven measures proposed by Europe to fight corruption. Four recommendations have not been implemented at all and seven others have been partially implemented. It is the conclusion of the report published by the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO), which has stated that Spain has a level of compliance with the recommendations which is "globally unsatisfactory"...’. El Diario has the story here.
Whistleblowers don’t get treated well either, says El Boletin, with an article and video here.
Following the Catalonian elections of December 21st, with a result which only complicated the already difficult situation there, Mariano Rajoy has given them until January 17th to constitute a government. From El Diario here. From El País in English comes: ‘Junts per Catalunya (JuntxCat), the party of ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont, won the largest number of seats (34) of the three pro-independence parties in the Catalan regional election on Thursday. Supporters of Junts per Catalunya described the result as “heroic” While Puigdemont’s party won less votes and seats than the constitutionalist party Ciudadanos (37), it hopes to govern with the support of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the anti-austerity party CUP, which won 32 and four seats respectively...’. Later, Ciudadanos lost a seat to the Partido Popular, giving them four, in a recount (here). Meanwhile, Puigdemont remains in exile in Brussels and the ERC leader Junqueras continues in jail in Madrid.
From Wolf Street: ‘Spain’s breakaway region, Catalonia, is riven in two and as unruly as ever. Just about the only thing the latest round of elections accomplished was to confirm just how divided the region is. Catalonia’s failed bid for independence has left behind a stinking economic hangover. None of the lofty promises made by the separatist forces have materialized. Four senior politicians and political activists remain in jail. The European Commission has roundly rejected any possibility of an independent Catalonia remaining in the EU. Yet enough people voted for pro-independence parties to grant them the slimmest of majorities in the region’s parliament. And that’s enough to ensure that nothing much changes...’. And then there’re the housing issues in Barcelona...
From The Guardian: ‘The dramatic election in Catalonia on Thursday (December 21st) was supposed to draw a line under months of tension and division across the Spanish region over its future status. Instead it has opened a potentially damaging new division with suggestions that a fresh wave of arrests of Catalan nationalists may be unleashed. Altogether, 19 of the elected candidates are either in prison, on bail or in exile, and face charges that carry up to 30 years in prison. Now the supreme court judge Pablo Llarena plans to issue writs against a further 11 people linked with the deposed Catalan government for their part in organising October’s referendum and fomenting secessionism...’.
The Partido Popular needs five councillors to have a spokesperson in the Catalonian government. They asked if the Ciudadanos would be so kind as to hand over a spare councillor to them (pretty please). Ciudadanos demurred.
A Tweet from ‘Anacleto Pancleto’: ‘Independence votes were 2,044,038 when the election was rigged on October 1st and one could vote twenty times. When one could only vote the once on December 21st, it was 2,063,361’.
‘...U.K. officials fear Spain will threaten to veto a Brexit transition phase if the British prime minister refuses to negotiate a separate deal with the government in Madrid that covers the disputed territory of Gibraltar. While the peninsula has been in British hands since 1713, Spain maintains a claim over the 2.6 square miles (6.7 square kilometres) of land...’. From Bloomberg (with video) here.
While, El País in English says: ‘Spain treads softly on Gibraltar despite EU veto win. Spanish sources say they will not rush into the delicate Gibraltar negotiations in the lead-up to Brexit’. The news-site adds: ‘...“We are not in a hurry and we don’t want to give the impression that we are rushing into such a delicate situation but we have won the first battle and now have the upper hand,” said a key senior official from the Spanish government involved in Brexit negotiations and its repercussions for the UK overseas territory known as the Rock...’.
2017 – the year where Justice chased after the Tweeters, rappers and comedians. Watch what you say, says Cuarto Poder here. And this: the man who may get 12 years for his songs and tweets: video here.
A paper from the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS): ‘Following the UK’s Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016 and the vote to leave the EU, the rights and status of UK nationals living in the EU27 and EU nationals has been the subject of much debate. Yet, whilst the right to reside has been much discussed, the legal consequences of Brexit for EU Citizenship demands further attention...’. Will our rights and privileges be ‘downgraded’?
‘The question of whether Europeans in Britain will retain the right to vote after the country leaves the European Union remains unresolved – a decision that could meaningfully impact the country’s future political direction...’. From CNS News here.
Andalucía television manipulates the news? Teresa Rodriguez, the leader of Podemos certainly thinks so.
‘Are Solar Panels Worth Installing In Spain? Following the Spanish government’s move a couple of years ago to crack down on households generating their own solar power, switching to the renewable energy has generally been seen as not being viable for the average individual. The infamous royal decree 900/2015, which came into effect in October 2015, effectively raised the costs of running your own solar setup...’. From Expat Focus here. The answer, by the way, is probably not (but maybe).
How to survive living in a tourist town if you aren’t a tourist (and don’t have a tourist business downstairs). In the town of Llanes in Asturias (known locally as Marbellanes), rents go up by 500% during the summer season making it difficult for ordinary citizens.
From La Traka in a lengthy article: The ONCE – the national organisation for the blind – has a few issues. It started selling the famous coupon lottery back in 1939. These days, according to an interview with two union members of the organisation, there are 6,600 blind members, plus a further 13,000 other disabled members. The ONCE spends over 50 million euros a year in institutional advertising...
In an attempt to stop ‘hate speech’, the Government wants to control what is said on Twitter and Facebook, by controlling the rules regarding the identity of the posters. As the satirical site El Mundo Today says, ‘...this will naturally not include fake Partido Popular bots...’.
El Mundo has the locations of the ‘25 radar-traps with the most fines’.
Spain’s first electric car was built in 1946. The story here.
‘Almost 500 people drowned in Spain in 2017, new figures have revealed. According to the national lifeguard federation, 481 met their deaths in Spanish seas last year, a 10% rise on 2016. Some 2,487 people had to be rescued after getting into trouble in Spanish waters. The figures do not include migrants who died off the coast of Spain, but focus on incidents that took place on beaches, lakes and at swimming pools across mainland Spain and the Canary and Balearic Islands...’. From The Olive Press here. From El Mundo, another tragic figure: 1,200 people died in traffic accidents in 2017 – the highest figure in five years.
The Daily Mail writes an enthusiast article about visiting Catalonia: Ferrari Land and Reús.
‘Seven Spanish cities with free tapas: The costless nibble with your drink is at once an art, a tradition and a religion; here are our recommendations for a number of places where free snacks are de rigueur...’. Oddly, it doesn’t mention Almería (the best place for tapas). Maybe that was the missing Nº 3. From El País in English here. The Spanish version is here (still no Almería!).
León is the official Capital Española de la Gastronomía for 2018. The place for foodies, says Hosteltur here.
From Sur in English: ‘The renaissance of a forgotten 'ghost town'. Tucked away in a valley overlooked by the Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama (Eastern Málaga) mountain range lies the diminutive hamlet of Acebuchal. Situated between Cómpeta and Frigiliana, this once forgotten place is enjoying a renaissance. Acebuchal was abandoned after Spain's Civil War but is now enjoying a revival thanks to a local family...’.
Here’s a jolly song on YouTube: Año Nuevo (warning: we’re kidding: it’s ghastly!).