Business Over Tapas June 16 2016 Nº 165

16 Junio 2016 1679 votos

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Editorial:

The Mediterranean is surrounded by twenty two countries, which between them share a coastline of 46,000 kilometres. About 480 million people in Europe, Asia and Africa live alongside the sea. It’s filthy. While we in Spain (evidently one of the most civilized of those twenty two countries), pour an enormous amount of sewage, chemical run-off and industrial pollutant into the Med, how about those other countries – many of which don’t even pretend to take measures to keep the water safe?

Then we have the maritime traffic, including an increase in large cruise-ships. Yes, it all ends up in the water.

Can the fish survive? How about those jellyfish, which seem to be on the increase?

The Mediterranean Sea is almost a lake indeed – with narrow drains at either end – the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal: 4,300 kilometres apart. It is a favourite destination for tourists, and Spain certainly has its economy based largely on this fortunate geographical partnership.

One day, the sea will revolt. 

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Housing:

Públicosays that the sale of homes rose in April year on year by 29% to 35,200 dwellings sold – the best monthly sales results seen since August 2010. Over 17% of these transactions were made to foreign buyers.

Outside of a capital city, Torrevieja in Alicante province is the town with the highest rate of sales in Spain. In the first three months of 2016, an amazing 1,416 apartments were sold (66% up on the same period in 2015). Nearby Orihuela, with 1.026 apartments sold in the same period, is evidently not far behind. Foreigners bought 3,746 homes across the province of Alicante in the first quarter and Spaniards picked up 7,660 (foreign sales in Málaga in the same period were 2,333). More on this at La Verdad. Residential tourism in Alicante is seen in a positive light in a report at El Mundo, making the point that 2015 sales to foreigners in Alicante were worth 2,700 million euros. More here.

The better than 15,000 illegal homes that exist in the province of Almeria weren’t built in a day’, saysLa Voz de Almería sententiously, adding ‘...thus, the solution to the home-owners problems will similarly not be resolved quickly’. Now it may be that the Junta de Andalucía – pushed by the AUAN and other similar organisations – will find a solution to this situation by the end of July (we won’t call it ‘an amnesty’, even if it is). There’s a press release from the AUAN below.

British investors who lost big deposits in the Spanish property crash have been given fresh hope of getting back their money.  Around 100,000 people in the UK are thought to have paid big sums towards ‘off-plan’ properties in Spain – ones which were yet to be built. ... Now a ruling by the Supreme Court in Madrid points to a reversal of fortune for disappointed buyers, because Spanish banks that held their deposits are to be held to account...’. Article found at This is Money (Daily Mail). The story is also discussed at Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight.

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Tourism:

Ryanair has announced that it will launch a low price accommodation offer, “Ryanair Rooms”, from 1st October next, offering its 116m customers the widest choice of hotel, hostel, B&B, holiday villa and home-stay options, but always at the lowest prices...’. Puff fromRyanair media centre, also reported in Agent Travelhere.

The infamous Hotel Algarrobico: the twenty-storey monster that was not quite finished in Carboneras Almería when an order from far-off Seville came to halt work and dismantle, will after many years finally be demolished (well, one of these days anyway). But right now, the owners and the Junta de Andalucía are in agreement that the value of the building must be agreed on before any potential indemnity to the owners can be set. Azata del Sol, who built the hotel and own the estate, are asking for seventy million euros of public funds in compensation. Add that to the cost of the demolition and regeneration works. More here.

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Finance:

Is There Anyone Left In Spain Who Doesn’t Get Subsidies?’ asksThe Corner. The article begins: ‘Spain uses subsidies, perhaps to excess, as a means of support for a whole range of activities which the public administrations delegate to third parties who, at times, are rather lax in terms of control...’.

An EU investigation into a Spanish law, which requires every expat to declare all their foreign assets worth over €50,000 or face heavy fines, may drag on for years, European advisory firm Blevins Franks has revealed. Last November, the European Commission (EC) opened an investigation against the Modelo 720 reporting measure to determine whether it infringes EU law after a host of complaints from law firms and tax adviser associations in Spain...’. Report from International Adviser.

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General Elections June 26:

A TV debate was held between the four principal candidates on Monday evening. All agreed that they would not allow this new election to fall into another stale-mate (although no clues were offered – at this stage – as to who or what would change. The candidates said little which was new, and the one-minute summation by each candidate at the end of the debate can be seen here. The Localsays the debate was dominated by Rajoy and Pablo Iglesias.

But what could happen if Mariano Rajoy were to stand aside? ‘A majority of voters of Spain's ruling conservative People's Party (PP) would consent to its leader and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stepping aside if this allowed the party to stay in government, a poll showed on Sunday. Rajoy, blamed for harsh austerity measures implemented in recent years that crippled the economy as well as political corruption cases at the PP during his leadership, is seen as the main obstacle for other parties to back a PP government...’. The story comes fromReuters.

...The leader of Spain’s Socialist party is busy travelling the country, giving speeches and interviews, smiling, rallying, hugging and doing all the other things politicians do in an election campaign. Yet the confidence is gone, as is the requisite optimism. If the polls are right, Mr Sánchez is on course to lead his party to yet another painful defeat on June 26...’. From the Financial Times ‘Spain’s once mighty socialists succumb to populist rage’

El País in English, quoting a poll for the newspaper group, says that ‘Months of gridlock take heavy toll on politicians’ approval ratings. Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera is alone among the four main candidates to get the thumbs up from voters’.

The Guardiantells us of ‘Flat-pack policies: new Podemos manifesto in style of Ikea catalogue. Party hoping for ‘most-read manifesto ever’ with candidates pictured at home watering plants and feeding fish’. It says ‘In a rare touch of humour in the dour world of Spanish politics, the anti-austerity party Podemos has published its manifesto in the style of the Ikea catalogue. As in the Swedish furniture catalogue, the manifesto is organised on a room-by-room basis, with candidates pictured at home in the kitchen, on the sofa, in the garden or working at their desks looking homely and approachable...’.

Of the 36.4 million Spaniards with the right to vote in the General Election, almost two million live abroad’, saysAhora Semanal, ‘Considered as a group, the Spaniards abroad would be third in size after Madrid and Barcelona, and before Valencia: they would be worth around sixteen deputies...’. But, alas, with the whole numbing bureaucratic apparatus to somehow negotiate; around 95% of all of those voters will not waste their time. In 2008, with a different set of rules on the books, almost 32% voted: four years later, this had dropped to under 5%.

La Cope Radiosays that Susana Díaz, the President of the Junta de Andalucía, tells listeners that Unidos Podemos is ‘not to be trusted’ and that ‘all they want is power’. The Government Acting-Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz also warns against the insurgent group: ‘only a win by the PP would stop a national version of the CUP (Barcelona anarchists)’. Pablo Iglesias (meanwhile) says that he is no longer vital or essential for the Podemos movement, in a major interview covered at El País in Englishhere.

Podemos really needs all politicians to be corrupt...’, explained Esteban González Pons spokesman for the Partido Popular in the European Parliament on a visit to Almería over the weekend ‘...rather like the Inquisition needed all women to be witches. Without the phantasm of corruption, they wouldn’t be able to get a single vote’. Ideal has the story here.

The plans by the four main parties to combat unemployment are at VozPópulihere.

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Politics:

The Guardiananalysis: ‘...The Spanish radical left party Unidos Podemos has surgedinto second place in the latest opinion polls, and is currently on 25.6%. The position is remarkable for the fact that, unlike in Greece, the mainstream Spanish socialist party, PSOE, has not collapsed, but rather shrivelled back to 20% as the radical left gathered momentum. Together, Podemos and the socialists could, if the polls are right, form a coalition government in which the left’s ponytailed leader, Pablo Iglesias, becomes prime minister. For a party that emerged out of the street protest movement of 2011, these are spectacular gains. And, for Europe, uncharted waters...’.

...and for those who really don’t like Podemos, here’s Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo  writing on his bloghere: ‘Like recycled waste, Leninism has resurfaced in our country hand in hand with the new Made in Venezuela party. When foreign media talk about this party, they happily label it as populist. Wrong. It is a much dangerous creature: hardcore Leninism. Having been born as the outcome of an economic crisis, widespread corruption, and a lacklustre political culture, it has thrived as a result of the suicidal alliances of a paralyzed and baffled socialism and of the protective covering fire that the governing party has irresponsibly provided to its benefit through the media and other institutions. Within this framework it seems timely to briefly review Lenin’s history...’ (Thanks to John for this one).

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Crime:

In the salad days of Valencian corruption, even Pope Benedict’s visit in 2006 was worth a few hand-outs. Estrella Digitalsays that the visit cost the public purse over 22 million euros, including a whopping 1.5m euros for the Pope’s dais.

(More from last week’s report) ‘British family arrested on fraud charges in Spain over 'illegal' care home where they 'conned elderly expats out of property'’. The Telegraphreports on the scandal. ‘...The police said that the residents were all elderly British citizens from Santa Pola, a popular retirement destination for UK expats: “They had little or no family members living nearby and spoke only English.”...’.

The Taekwondo Federation, based in Alicante, was the scene earlier this week of an investigation into the improper use of public subsidies, and the president and the secretary of the Federation were both arrested by the Spanish UDEF fraud police. El Mundoreports.

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Catalonia:

The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont stated last week that the current government “doesn’t have guaranteed stability and therefore can’t rule”. Thus, he announced that he will submit to a vote of confidence after this summer so that the Parliament can decide whether to restore confidence in the current Government or call for new elections. “We can’t continue like this, we go nowhere with such a volatile basis”, he admitted...’. The report comes from Vilaweb.

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Brexit:

Britons living in other EU countries overwhelmingly back the UK remaining in the union, according to a new survey. It found 72 per cent of expats on the Continent eligible and planning to vote on June 23 intend to back In. Nineteen per cent are Outers, with just under nine per cent still to make up their minds. The Brexit study, for expats’ network InterNations, was based on more than 1,800 responses from Britons abroad in the EU, whose numbers are estimated at around 1.3 million...’. Report at The Evening Standard.

A useful piece from The Independent: ‘How to keep your EU citizenship after Brexit.

British nationals are set to lose out, but there are some workarounds’. A notice from the Scottish Government regarding potential citizenship (following independence there).

The British Prime Minister David Cameron is in Gibraltar this Thursday (today) to encourage the already overwhelming ‘stay in Europe’ vote. The first time a British PM has visited the Rock since 1968. More at Públicohere and The Gibraltar Chroniclehere.

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Media:

There is evidence out there that the media is not very impartial. Here's a study on the national news - 71 minutes on Venezuela during May (Podemos is understood in the public mind to have received support from Chavez and Maduro), against just 31 minutes on the 'paro': the unemployment issue which most worries Spaniards. Corruption? Barely mentioned at all. A study from VozPópuli. (Football? Hey, there’s lots of football...).

Of course, some media groups are worse than others when it comes to manipulation. Take the Catholic TV13, which, following the political debate between the four main candidates, asked viewers to chose the best – between the two right wing ones (Rajoy or Rivera). The story comes from El Diariohere.

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Press release from AUAN:

Maura Hillen, 661329919 or Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.

THE REGULARISATION OF ILLEGAL HOUSES WILL BE IN JULY (Andalucía)

AUAN spent a marathon day in the Parliament of Andalucía on Wednesday 8th of June 2016 to promote a speedy implementation of a change to the Planning Laws (LOUA) to provide a way forward for thousands, although not all, irregular houses.

The meetings in parliament were attended by the president of AUAN, Maura Hillen, the association’s spokesperson, Gerardo Vázquez, and representatives of other groups from other parts of Andalucía, including SOHA from Malaga, coordinated within the Andalusian Confederation for Planning Legalization (CALU).

According to Gerardo Vázquez ‘we were very pleased with the reception given by the various political groups to those affected and we understand that they are going to make an effort to ensure that the planned change in the LOUA is approved in July. In fact we understand a paper will be issued to the Commission of Planning next Tuesday regarding the proposed amendments to the bill which will reactivate the process.

With regard to the request of the associations for an interim solution for houses without water and electricity, he said ‘I believe that all parties want to provide a solution to this problem because it is not acceptable that there are thousands of people living in a European country without water fit for human consumption.  Some of the federation members tell us that this situation has lasted for 30 years even though they are on urban land.

We are asking for a fast and simple measure, based on a PSOE amendment of 2012 which was ineffective at that time because the duration of this special measure was too short.   Having discussed the matter in detail with the PSOE, we understand that they believe that their latest proposed amendment regarding urbanisations awaiting legalisation via a town plan will provide the desired solution. Whilst we are not convinced of this, our priority is to get this bill approved whilst at the same time not losing hope that there will be a change of position and that a clearer, simpler and faster solution to the issue of interim services will be provided within the current bill’.

As for the request of the collectives for the formation of a working party within parliament which would include representatives of the estimated 300,000 illegal houses in Andalucía, Sr. Vázquez said ‘we understand that in general the political groups do not think that this is a crazy idea, given that more dialogue and participation is required in the society of today. However, we believe that the socialist group is not totally convinced that this is either necessary or workable and they say that they are open to dialogue and to facilitate solutions, a statement that in our experience we have found to be true. We will continue this discussion after the approval of the change to the LOUA, because this is the top priority for our association given that we believe that the bill will solve many of the problems of those affect, at least in the Valle del Almanzora.’

He concluded by saying ‘ I have always said that we have confidence in our political groups and we hope to continue to work with them to provide solutions for the difficult situation that thousands of families in Andalucía are obliged to live with every day. For now we hope that the next time that we go to the Parliament of Andalucía will be in July to witness the approval of the bill and to applaud and congratulate the legislators’.

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Various:

FromSur in English: ‘Customer services are forgetting the elderly. Many people over the age of 65 are encountering difficulties in carrying out everyday transactions because they are expected to use the new technologies...’.

From Eye on Spain comes a feature called: ‘The Cucaracha Club: The back story to the spy thriller made in Torrevieja’. ‘...Writers on Spain don’t just write books, blog posts and articles for expat sites. Some of them – like Billie Anthony Gaddess – write screenplays. And if they’re lucky enough to have a former soap star and experienced actor prepared to star for free, and a maverick director to bring the words and action to life, they just might end up with a movie hit on their hands...’.

Basque cuisine ‘...has taken on an outsize influence on top-flight global cuisine, thanks in large part to that philosophy of generosity they pioneered. This area of tight-knit traditions with a passion for fine ingredients stands apart as an incubator of quality chefs and innovation. Today, San Sebastián, a Basque seaside resort of 185,000, boasts the most Michelin-starred restaurants per capita in Europe — 16 stars in about a 15-mile radius...’. Found at The New York Times.

Spain has been ranked fourth among 163 nations worldwide in the protection of children’s rights in the annual KidsRights Index 2016, a global ranking from Amsterdam-based KidsRights.org that maps the degree to which countries are able to protect and advance the rights of children in their societies. Although countries around the world are falling behind in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the KidsRights Index showed Spain as fourth among nations surveyed, bettered only in the protection of children’s rights by Norway, Portugal and Iceland...’. FromProgressive Spain.

How much could a taxi licence cost?  Anything up to 220,000€ apparently: depending on where it came from. For one thing – there are the same number of licences as there were in 1998. El Español has the story. A few examples of licences on a classified adverts site here.

E Day: Join the Spanish Language Party. On July 2nd, the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester, England opens the doors again to join the celebrations. The entire Instituto Cervantes network through its different branches around the world celebrate Spanish Language Day (Día E) with a program of cultural activities for everybody. Come to the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester from 12 am to 3 pm and enjoy all the activities, workshops and surprises that we have organized for everybody. We will start the day with Free Spanish and Dance Workshops, we will carry on presenting all our courses and next official exams calls and we will finish the day enjoying fantastic paella from `La Bandera´ Restaurant (Press release). More info at Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo..

The bullfighting group ‘Fundación del Toro de Lidia’ says that it has initiated various legal complaints (at least ten) against the ‘Gladiators for Peace’ anti-taurino group and the activist Peter Janssen for interrupting bullfights – his most recent was in a bullfight in Córdoba on May 27th. The group is asking for jail sentences and large fines. More here.

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See Spain:

Graffiti news: ‘One of the world's most elaborate mosaics just hit Barcelona. Over the last several months, so-called "vandalist" MVIN has been roaming the streets of Spain painting 100 garage doors with abstract streaks of yellow, black, and chrome spray paint. Taken together, the pieces add up to a 100-foot-high, 65-foot-wide tag of MVIN's name — perhaps the most elaborate tag the graffiti world has ever seen. Even more amazing, he did it without law enforcement ever noticing...’. Pictures and story from Tech Insiderhere.

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Finally:

La Guerra Civil Española in ten minutes, on YouTubehere.

 

Business Over TapasJune 16 2016   Nº 165

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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