With one thing and another – world-wide asset tax declarations, strict retroactive planning rules, new home-rental rules, the re-think on the padrón (by both the authorities and the foreign residents), higher prices and the ageing foreigners themselves – there’s no doubt but that the number of Northern Europeans living in Spain full-time is now waning. It’s strange to think such a thing, as many of us live in small coastal towns which we somehow think of as large thriving metropolises rather than what they really are – small, unimportant yet wealthy towns which are about an hour’s run down the motorway from the nearest influential city.
Spain has put all of its eggs into the tourist business. Tourists can be handled easily. They are under the watchful and cupidous eye of a relatively small number of very wealthy players who protect their turf through government contacts, cut-throat discounts and the control of the airports best located for mass tourism. A massive business indeed that makes up a sizeable part of the national GDP.
But what might happen, as Egypt, Tunisia and even Belgium can tell you, if a major crisis occurs? Terror, or a natural disaster, or a major accident, a sudden hike in the price of oil, or even a sharp and killing heat-wave are all possible – and they can hardly be anticipated. Tourists can easily re-book to another country. Residents, however, must normally stay until they can find a buyer.
Spain had the chance to be the Florida of Europe, but the giant income from this sensible course of action would be spread too thinly. So instead we have major tourism: in the hands of the few.
The numbers of Northern European residents is falling. From Spanish Property Insight, we read: ‘...The big fall in EU expats registered on the padrón will be partly due to reporting issues during updates, with some expats failing to register by mistake or unaware of the reasons for doing so. And recent updates to the padrón might simply recognise the fact that it was inaccurate before. However I suspect the main reason for the falling EU expat numbers is the worldwide asset declaration (modelo 720) obligation that Spain introduced in 2012. Expat numbers were growing until 2012 when this law was passed, and have fallen ever since. So Spanish Government fiscal policy is driving away EU expats, and this is clear from these numbers...’.
Mark Stücklin also writes on his Spanish Property Insight about the hidden costs of buying a home in Spain: ‘Taxes on buying a property in Spain are more than double the European average, with no moral or economic justification. The stupidity of it...’.
Helen and Leonard Prior, often featured in this section as they are a living example of what can, could or might happen to any innocent buyer in Spain, were the focus of a demonstration last week in Vera, Almería. Remarkably, only about 150 people came on the day, despite heavy promotion. Lenox reports at Spanish Shilling. Here also at Teleprensa.
‘The former local government of Zurgena, under the mandate of the ex-mayor Cándido Trabalón between the years 2003 and 2007, has once again been acquitted of a crime of prevarication in granting licenses for 41 single-family homes on undeveloped land because it does not appear that the government knew that the technical and favourable legal report were biased and “without specialized urban knowledge, they had no reason to distrust the legality of the licenses” (Sic!)...’. Report at La Voz de Almería.
From Finca Parks Action Group comes: ‘Disgraced CAM Bank once described by the Governor of the Bank of Spain as the ‘worst of the worst’ has not filed an Appeal to the Provincial Appeal Court of Albacete in the second Finca Parcs group case. Therefore, the Sentence issued by the First Instance Court in Hellín earlier this year is now FIRM and FINAL against CAM Bank (now Banco Sabadell) & the property developer, Cleyton GES SL. The 13 group members in Finca Parcs Lawsuit 2 claimed a refund of almost half a million Euros that they paid between 2005 & 2008 to the developer’s accounts opened at Banco CAM for off-plan properties that were never built at the failed Finca Parcs development in Albacete. In February 2016 the Court convicted the developer & bank to return the off-plan deposits paid by the group members for houses that were never completed, together with interest from the date the payments were made to the developer’s account & legal costs. The off-plan project, Las Higuericas Finca Parcs, which is close to the village of Argramón in Albacete, was abandoned in 2009 when the bank withdrew funding and the developer ran out of money. Only around 10% of the 617 luxury detached villas were completed, but not even these were issued with the First Occupation Licence by the local Town Hall’ (Press release. FPAG website is here)
From The Irish Timescomes ‘Spain, the property deals that went sour and a chance to get your money back’. The article says: ‘...anyone who placed funds with a Spanish bank or caja during that period for a property that was not built is entitled to reclaim those funds with interest from the financial institution in question. Following a separate ruling there is now no necessity to sue the developer. This is important as many of them have been bankrupted or are not financially viable...’.
‘There was a time, during the Spanish property boom, when Spain was capable of taking in six millions of immigrants and build more than Germany, France, Italy and UK together, in which cement consumption also beat records: more than the whole of the US. Now that public works have hit a soft –and hopefully- temporary bump it has descended. Cement consumption in Spain declined 3.3% in April to 946.329 tonnes, 32.478 less than a year ago. This data consolidates the negative trend in cement consumption in the first four months of 2016, when it dropped 1.2% to a total of 3.512.140 tonnes...’. This one fromThe Corner.
In April, an impressive 23.3 million overnight stays in Spanish hotels were reported, says Agent Travelhere.
‘The latest Survey of Living Conditions from the INE shows Spain to be an unequal society where 40.6% of households cannot afford to take an annual one-week holiday. The Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies "have doubts" regarding this "tragic" data, and offer proof to show that the Spanish travel more than they did a few years ago...’. Found at EMG.
Renting your house in the Canaries to the tourists? From Preferente comes a lovely piece of doublespeak: ‘Canary Island lawmakers have designed a series of measures to curb the growing proliferation of homes and tourist apartments that erode the income of the large corporations in the archipelago...’.
The average salary in Spain, at 1,640€ per month, is reported to be 17.8% under the EU average of 1,995€. Bulgaria is bottom at 357€ and Denmark, at 3,553€, is the top. Analysis at Nueva Tribunahere. ‘Almost 30% of Spaniards are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Latest figures show that average annual household income stands at €26,000’. A report at El País in English.
There are 1,400,200 unemployed in Spain who have not had any job in the last three years or longer, says El Mundohere.
‘One in four AVE stations used by fewer than 100 passengers a day. High-speed rail network is still making a loss overall, with just three profitable routes’. El País in English has the story here.
General Elections June 26:
‘EU delays deficits sanctions on Spanish and Portugal until after election’, says an article in The Telegraph. ‘...Inflicting penalties would have been an unprecedented step for the European Commission, which won new powers to monitor national budgets during the Eurozone debt crisis. Such a move would risk boosting the anti-austerity Podemos party in elections held on June 26. The Commission said it "will come back to the situation of these two member states in early July."...’.
‘The Spanish political scene was in turmoil on Monday after EL PAÍS revealed the contents of a letter that acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sent to the European Commission. In the letter, Rajoy said that if he is re-elected at the upcoming elections of June 26, he is “prepared to adopt new measures, if required, in order to meet the [deficit] target.” In public, Rajoy, of the Popular Party (PP), has denied that Spain will require any further spending cuts following a raft of unpopular measures that were taken at the height of the economic crisis...’. FromEl País in English.
‘The Unidos Podemos leftwing electoral alliance for the upcoming 26th June general election (26-J) that was announced recently by Podemos and Izquierda Unida (IU) has mushroomed into a veritable “alphabet soup” of political groups on the Spanish left in a marked departure from the less-partisan “transversal” electoral strategy mapped out by Podemos leader Íñigo Errejón for the 20th December (20-D) first round of balloting, which failed to give any political party an absolute majority in Congress...’. An article found at Progressive Spain.
Also from Progressive Spain: ‘In a foretaste of its election messaging for the upcoming 26th June (26-J) general election, Spain’s conservative Partido Popular (PP) released a video at the weekend labelling the centre-left Socialist party (PSOE) and anti-austerity Podemos party as “extremists” that have placed the unity of Spain at risk, provoked the flight of private companies from regions where they currently govern, and denied parents the right to choose how they want to educate their children...’. Video and article here. The video is analysed by El Diariohere.
El Españolsays that the PSOE would ‘eliminate subsidies which have been responsible for the creation of 2.1 million jobs’. The party considers that the reduction in social contributions threatens pensions. The reductions in the payments to the social security are an important part of the deficit which in 2015 was over 13,000 million euros, says the party. Perhaps of more importance – the PSOE says it will create 217,000 jobs for the over-45s which would cost an initial 1,300 million euros. These are not ordinary jobs, but rather ‘specific projects proposed by the unemployed people themselves, or by local authorities or from non-profit entities (NGOs) whose wage cost would be assumed by the State for the first six months’. El País enthuses here.
Arnaldo Otegi (the Basque leader who was recently excarcerated after six years for his support for ETA), is to run as the candidate for E H Sortu (Wiki here), another far-left independence coalition for Euskadi, says El Huff Posthere, despite being inhabilitated from public office until 2021.
According to Cuarto Poder, around two million Spaniards living abroad will encounter the same problems and ‘irregularities’ as they did last December when trying to vote in the General Elections. Most will once again not be able to express their democratic will. In the last elections, only 4.7% finally voted. It is probably not a coincidence that the vast majority of Spaniards who have been obliged to move abroad for work are unfriendly towards the PP.
Following the elections, The Cornerforecasts what could happen next.
According to a report in El Diario, the president of the YMCA in Spain helped create 37 offshore companies between 1998 and 2004 in the British Virgin Islands and Panama.
‘The government team of Barcelona has signed a decree banning the City from using companies that have subsidiaries in tax havens to evade funds illegally. "Companies have to choose between Barcelona and Panama," said Gerard Pisarello, the Deputy Mayor. From now on, any municipal contract will include a clause that the company concerned has not made any financial transactions considered illegal in bank accounts domiciled in tax havens...’. Story at El Ventano.
FromEl País in English: ‘A High Court judge has given Spain’s Popular Party (PP) a period of 10 days to pay a civil bond of €1.2 million in connection with a court case relating to an alleged party slush fund and irregular payments, the radio station Cadena SER reported on Monday. The party, which is currently in charge of a caretaker government after inconclusive elections in 2015, will face having its accounts and assets frozen should it not make the payment...’. The original story at the Cadena Ser is here.
‘A former French anti-drugs chief is implicated on the Costa del Sol. A supposed informer for François Thierry assures he worked for him in Estepona. The former chief of the French office for the fight against drugs (OCRTIS), François Thierry, is under investigation by the Paris Prosecution for his alleged involvement in the importation into his country of several dozens of tons of hashish, some sourced on the Costa del Sol...’. FromTypically Spanish.
An essay at Guerra Eterna discusses how British politicians are making the wildest claims for and against Brexit. The disturbing article here.
The ruling from the Supreme Court appeal on whether the 15 year rule for British ex-pat voters was legal is now in. The appeal has been dismissed. A copy of the ruling was sent by reader Brian Cox to BoT, which reads in part: ‘The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal and the Court of Appeal judgement will therefore stand. Giving the Court's decision, Lady Hale (Deputy President of the Supreme Court) said:
"We should make it clear that the question is not whether this particular voting exclusion is justifiable as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The question is instead, firstly, whether European Union law applies at all, as only if it does so is there any possibility of attacking an Act of Parliament; and secondly, if so, whether there is any interference with the right of free movement.
Assuming for the sake of argument that European Union law does apply, we have decided that it is not arguable that there is an interference with right of free movement, for the reasons given by the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal. We do have considerable sympathy for the situation in which the applicants find themselves and we understand that this is something which concerns them deeply. But we cannot discern a legal basis for challenging this statute.
Accordingly the application for permission to appeal is refused."’.
An apocalyptic view of Podemos in editorials from Prisa (El País and the Cadena Ser).
Russian submarines have been routinely docking in Ceuta (a Spanish possession in North Africa – sort of opposite Gibraltar and just 19 miles away). NATO is upset by this, even though the charter for the organisation does not ‘explicitly’ include the defence of either Ceuta or its sister city Melilla. Here.
‘The Spanish Government has refused to comment on allegations by a Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak that it paid a ransom of almost 10 million euro to a jihadist group in Syria for the release of the freelance journalists Antonio Pampliega, José Manuel López and Ángel Sastre. The journalists flew back to Spain earlier this month on a military aircraft when they were met by the Deputy Premier, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, having previously been held hostage by al-Nusra Front, following their kidnap 10 months ago...’. FromThe Leader.
From The Round Town News comes a useful report titled ‘Expatriates in Spain. Advantages and convenience of making a Spanish Power of Attorney’.
‘Spain launches campaign to stop English 'invasion'. The Royal Spanish Academy is fighting against the anglicization of Spanish with a new campaign. The Spanish language has, over the past few years, been soaking up more and more anglicisms – from slang words to business vocabulary – these days many sentences in Spanish are peppered with a good dose of English… much to the distaste of the academy responsible for overseeing the Spanish language...’. FromThe Local.
58 Spanish beaches which the EU recommends closing for the bad quality of the water, here. The majority of Spanish beaches are, nevertheless, considered to be ‘excellent’.
Beneficio – one of the oldest hippie communes in Europe, and the largest in Spain. An intrepid reporter from El Mundo spends 24 hours there with the longhairs. Where is it exactly? There are no road-signs to this Alpujarra hide-out.
‘Looking for a fun, interesting trip? Visit Segovia! Nowhere else in Spain will you find such an incredible Roman monument (the aqueduct) in the heart of a vibrant, modern city’. A puff from España Fascinante.
We just wanted to say how well we thought you spoke at the demonstration yesterday (I was one of the speakers at the demonstration in Vera on Thursday- Lenox). You managed to put all the important points across far better than we would have. We are members of SOHA and recipients of BoT and would have liked to meet you personally but unfortunately didn't get the chance as is so often the case at these events. Understandably you had to dash off with Helen and Len and the TV crew and we missed the opportunity! We hope that went well - the more TV coverage this issue can get the better.
We had the pleasure of meeting Helen and Len Prior and our overwhelming impression was how nice this couple are and how they do not deserve to be in this terrible situation, through absolutely no fault of their own of course.
It's a pity that more people did not make the effort to attend but nonetheless, we think it was enough of a showing to be taken seriously.
As always, our thanks go to yourself, Maura Hillen, Phil Smalley, Gerardo Vázquez and all those people who dedicate their lives to bringing this dreadful injustice to an end once and for all. We sometimes wonder when it will all end and how many more occasions like the one in Vera yesterday will be necessary to bring about proper compensation for Helen and Len and meaningful law changes for the rest of us.
We stayed overnight in Garrucha and spent some time looking around the area and it does look like one great big missed opportunity with large 4 star hotels and residential homes seriously under-occupied. There has clearly been a lot of investment in the area but it has not fulfilled its potential by a very long way. It's hard to imagine how the Junta de Andalucía’s actions can possibly be justified and we are in no doubt that the fallout from the Prior's demolition has had a direct economic impact on the area.
Please keep up the good work with publicity; we all need all the help we can get.
Jane and Robert.
Romeo Santos performs ‘Propuesta Indecente’. We’ve never heard of him, but the video has been seen over 975,000,000 times! A nice song - at Youtubehere.
Business Over TapasMay 26 2016 Nº 162
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner
For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com
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