Business Over Tapas 19 January 2017 Nº 192

19 Enero 2017  Sección; Especiales 789 votos

Editorial:

The Andalusian Secretary for Hacienda and Public Administration, one María Jesús Montero, is hopeful that the new regional rule limiting the 260,000 funcionarios (as they are called) from working more than 35 hours a week will mean lots of new jobs (for all that paperwork, see?). The Central Government is nevertheless not in agreement with this scheme, we read in Ideal here. In Spain, many young people dream of becoming a funcionario, a civil servant, as this is a position which is safe for life, allows no creativity, and comes with fourteen monthly payments annually.

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Housing:

Spain’s National Statistics Institute said last week that the number of purchase-sale transactions in the property market grew 17.3% in November to 33,806 from a year ago (and compared with a rise of 6.5% in October). That makes ten consecutive months of year-on-year rises. Second-hand homes transactions rose 19.8% to 27,996 in November from a year earlier, while new home transactions advanced 6.8% year-on-year to 5,810. In the 11 months to November, the number of purchase-sale operations increased 14.2% from a year ago, fuelled mainly by an 18.5% rise in second-hand housing market. The number of new home transactions fell by 1.4%. Following these numbers, on-line property agencies Idealista and Pisos.com forecast that there will have been over 400,000 purchase-sale transactions completed by the end of 2016...’. Found at The Corner here.

In Spain’, says El Español in an article, ‘there are too many homes and the “Millennials” are just waiting patiently to inherit them’. There are 27 million homes in Spain and around 3 or 4 million of these are lying empty.

Málaga has reduced housing stock by 16% and has land to build 82,000 houses. According to Tinsa, there are still 10,600 excess flats inherited from the real estate crisis, 19% of those built since 2008’. Headline at Typically Spanish here.

Note: there are two different streams under the general subject of property – those homes which might interest a foreign buyer and those others, often on the edge of big cities, which are considered of interest for Spaniards.

La Casa Guzmán, an arresting home designed and built (in Algete, Madrid) by one of Spain’s greatest architects, Alejandro de la Sota, has been demolished by its owners to build, in its place, “an uncultured expendable piece of crap”. Such is life. Story here.

The European Court of Human Rights condemns Spain for not notifying a demolition to the owners of a flat in Sanxenxo in Pontevedra’. Story at La Voz de Galicia. The AUAN comments on the issue, below.

Just over nine years ago, Len and Helen Prior had their home in Vera, Spain, demolished by the Junta de Andalucía. The house was not in a flood plain, or near any public works or project; it was not in a 'beauty spot' or on the beach. Since then, the Priors have lived in their garage which escaped the demolition order. The British haven't done anything; the Spanish haven't done anything (Lenox dixit).

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Tourism:

A study by El País on the numbers of passengers in Spanish airports during 2016. On the whole, numbers are up.

According to Nexotur, fraud in the sales of holidays is growing alarmingly, particularly in the UK. ‘Selling points without financial protection, web pages created solely for fraud, the cloning of legal 'portals' and the use of official logos without permission. These are just some of the fraudulent practices suffered by British consumers, who lost the equivalent of 13.2 million euros in 2016...’. Of course, across the world last year, 1,200 million people took a holiday away from home.

With all the promotion of tourism at the FITUR this week – sun and sand tourism, golf tourism, rural tourism, nature tourism, gastro-tourism and many more, why is ‘Residential Tourism’ the one thing that nobody ever talks about? An opinion piece by Lenox here (en castellano) at La Opinión de Almería.

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Seniors

A school for Seniors based on the Costa del Sol. The Asociación Learning for Pleasure has a number of courses ‘open to all English-speaking adults of any nationality and age’. Find them here.

Senior Citizen Discounts in Spain For Those 65 or Older Are a Great Way to Save Money’. Headline from an article from July 2015 at Seriously Spain. The article speaks of ‘...the fabulous senior citizen discounts in Spain those 65 years of age and over are entitled to, whether living here or just on vacation. With discounts for transportation, museums, food and more, travelling in Spain if you’re over 65 can be a great way to have a cheap holiday..’.

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Finance:

The Spanish economy will grow 2.3% this year, which means a notable slowdown with respect to the 3.2% expansion forecast for 2016 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has maintained its most recent predictions for Spain, while revising its 2018 growth forecast upwards by two tenths of a percentage point to 2.1%. So the international organisation has corroborated the estimates of the IMF technicians who visited Spain last December to draw up their annual report on the Spanish economy. After their stay, they forecast GDP growth of 3.2% in 2016 and 2.3% in 2017...’. Found at The Corner here.

Spain's Banco Popular has sold 620 million euros of non-performing property loans to U.S. asset managers Apollo and Blackstone, a bank spokesman said last week. The sale comes as Popular, Spain's sixth largest by assets, presses on with its plan to reduce its toxic real estate portfolio by 15,000 million euros by 2018, almost half its total exposure. In December Popular said it would replace Chairman Angel Ron after shareholders rebelled over his slow progress in cleaning up the bank's property loan book...’. From Reuters here.

Banking these days doesn’t need a static bank (or even the Internet). Something between these two services is operated by the Cajamar in quiet areas in Almería using ‘mobile offices’. The story here.

From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight: ‘A recent ruling by the Spanish Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo or TC) means that banks can be obliged to repay some or all of the mortgage set-up costs they passed on to borrowers. In December the Spanish Supreme Court found that clauses in mortgage contracts used by lenders BBVA and the Banco Popular forcing borrowers to pay set-up fees like the notary and land registry were abusive, and therefore null and void. This comes hard on the heels of the mortgage interest floor clause scandal, in which banks illegally set lower limits for mortgage interest rates, and overcharged borrowers to the tune of €4 billion when base rates fell...’.

Funny (but sad): ‘From One Scam to Another: How Banks in Spain Intend to “Compensate” 1.4 Million Fleeced Homeowners’. The article sums up the banks’ attitude in its final paragraph: ‘...Whatever happens in the coming months, one thing is certain: regardless of what EU law may hold, the banks will do whatever they can to ensure that they refund as little as possible of the billions of euros they surreptitiously overcharged their customers. And they will have the government’s consent throughout’. Article at Wolf Street here.

From La Nueva Tribuna: ‘The Pensions Fund – the shame of the PP’. The article begins: ‘What has happened with the management of the Pension Reserve Fund made by the PP government of Mariano Rajoy Brey is a scandal. Someday, this mismanagement must be taken to the Courts and it should be examined by the millions of retirees who vote for the PP...’. Graphs and quotes from foreign news-sources support the view.

Following on from the shock that the world’s eight richest people own as much money as the poorest half – some 3.6 billion (what an earth do they want if for, and is it enough?), comes the Spanish version. From Progressive Spain: Just three Spaniards own more than 30% poorest. That’s ‘...Amancio Ortega, the founder of Spain’s textile and clothing behemoth Inditex, his daughter Sandra and the president of Mercadona, Juan Roig...’.

What ever happened to the 26,000 million euros Spain lent the Greeks? Spain’s Minister of Economy Luis De Guindos says he’d like it back.

The world champion of motorcycling, Alex Crivillé, says in an interview on Catalunya Ràdio that Spanish athletes who pay tax here are ‘donkeys’. Crivillé considers it ‘logical’ to be a tax resident outside of Spain and says that ‘he who does not do is stupid’. Video and report at Post Digital here.

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Politics:

In an effort to water down Pedro Sánchez' chances, the caretaker leadership of the PSOE has decided to wait until June before holding a congress and choosing a new leader for the beleaguered party. Currently, it seems, there are three candidates: past leader Pedro Sánchez (who confirmed his candidature on Wednesday), the ineffable Susana Díaz and now Basque politician Paxti López.

The PSOE would once again take more votes than the PP if regional elections were to be held in Andalucía today – but not by much. 28.6% would give their vote to the PSOE against 26.2% for the PP. ‘In our lowest moment, with our party in disarray, we would still beat the PP’, said Susana Díaz. Video, graphic and report at Vozpópuli here.

Spain’s ambassador to the UK, Federico Trillo, has resigned in the wake of revelations about a military plane crash that killed 62 Spaniards while he was Minister for Defence in 2003. Trillo announced in a London press conference on Thursday evening that he would be stepping down the following day. While he claimed that the move had been long-planned, the haste of his resignation has implied that it is a direct result of the political storm surrounding the Yak-42 case...’. Story at The Olive Press here.

Spain's regional tensions took centre stage on Tuesday as Catalan and Basque leaders boycotted a major gathering attended by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in a first. Catalonia chief Carles Puigdemont, who wants independence for his region, and Iñigo Urkullu, head of the strongly autonomous Basque Country, did not show up at the meeting in Madrid. The meeting brought together the presidents of Spain's 15 other semi-autonomous regions and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla...’. From The Local here.

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Gibraltar:

When the apes disappear from the Rock of Gibraltar, the British will go, too. So says a bit of local lore taken seriously enough that Winston Churchill ordered emergency primate reinforcements at the height of World War II, and residents of this fish-and-chips enclave in the land of flamenco pamper their simian neighbours with meticulous care and feeding. Yet even as the colony of apes — tailless monkeys, really — thrives in its home at the top of the Rock, the 30,000 Britons who live at the foot of the soaring limestone monolith are feeling nervous...’. From The Washington Post. The story is titled: ‘As Brexit tremors ripple, the Rock of Gibraltar shudders’.

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Courts:

From El País in English: ‘Luis Bárcenas, a former treasurer for Spain’s Popular Party (PP), on Monday offered damning information about the ruling conservatives at a court hearing that is part of a major kickbacks-for-contracts case known as Gürtel. Speaking at the 30th session of the trial at the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s High Court, Bárcenas confirmed the existence of a parallel fund that he and his predecessor, Álvaro Lapuerta, were in charge of as party treasurers...’. As Bárcenas arrived in court on Monday, he was greeted by a Mariachi band playing the PP anthem (heh!). Video here.

The five senior directives of Novacaixagalicia (NCG) who awarded themselves 22 million euros following the closure of the bank have now been sent to jail. Story at Público here.

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Brexit:

The opinion following Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday comes from El País. (Summed up by Karen Kendrick here): ‘Stand out comments on the speech are... "Shameful nationalist xenophobia, arrogance, madness, delusion, misguided to despise & discriminate against Europeans, nonsensical to threaten those you need to negotiate with, lacking in truth, the essence of her plan is to leave behind a market of 500 million to try & strike deals, without negotiators, with an ever-more protectionist world, to aspire to be a tax haven, to risk German investment on which 400,000 UK jobs depend".... and much more. It's fair to say, it's not gone down at all well in Spain’. Indeed, The Independent carries much the same report: ‘Spain's biggest newspaper accuses Theresa May of “shameful, xenophobic nationalism”. El País says demanding single market access while cutting off free movement is “morally evil”’.

EU citizens in UK could face 'deliberate hostility' policy after Brexit. Immigration lawyer says government could make it very difficult for people to stay in UK if rights of 1.2 million Britons in EU are not protected’. From The Guardian.

British nationals living in Spain and other European countries have urged UK Prime Minister Theresa May to make a speedy and "magnanimous gesture" to help secure their futures. A group of British nationals, including Sue Wilson, from Bremain in Spain (website), which campaigns for the rights of British people in Spain, told a parliamentary select committee in Westminster that the UK should make the first move when it comes to the increasingly thorny issue of the rights of EU citizens in Britain and those of Brits living around Europe...’. From The Local here. The story (with an odious photographic caricature of the British in Spain) is also covered by The Guardian here with the title ‘Hundreds of thousands of retired Britons in EU “may be forced to return”’.

Brits’ mobile phone charges may be set to soar when they visit the continent post-Brexit. Mobile phone operators are planning for a worst case scenario of higher call and data charges once the UK finalises its exit from the union. The networks fear that European companies could seize the opportunity to raise the wholesale cost of calls and data for Britons travelling around Europe because the EU-wide caps implemented by Brussels will no longer apply. The feared hikes could see Brits pay up to €50 to stream a single song on their phone...’. From The Olive Press.

Thinking of immigrating? It’s all here at Parainmigrantes.info.

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Media:

María Martín-Prat is Spanish but has been working for many years in the north of the Pyrenees. She is responsible for Copyright in the European Commission, a key position that will be heard from in Brussels in the coming months. The European Parliament will debate before the summer holidays a new copyright on the Internet law that, according to many, "will forever change the way we share information on the internet."...’. With this law, we would need a licence each and every time we posted something on the Web. The main players – Facebook, Google and so on – would be forced to block any content that could be seen as an infringement of author’s rights. Imagine the end of YouTube in Europe... Google’s opinion of this idiocy is “The web depends on the ability of users to share content. This proposal suggests that all jobs including text, video, images and more should be filtered by online services. This will turn the internet into a place where everything that is posted must be analyzed by lawyers before even one person sees it”. More at Vozpópuli.

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Various:

Canal Sur, the unloved propaganda tool of the Junta de Andalucía, will have cost the Andalusians some one thousand million euros over the seven years leading up to 2020, following a fresh injection of capital into the regional public TV/radio of 418.5 million euros. Report at El Confidencial here.

Do you get treated unfairly as a foreigner? I’ve always wondered whether I do or not, but this summer I found out for sure. Straight from the bull’s mouth, as it were. It all happened in the exotic location of Benalmadena, Málaga...’. A story from A Novel Spain (blog).

Immigrants arriving by boat on the Costa are allowed to go free and unchecked as system fails. Spain's official refugee centres are full, forcing charities to take over, and observers say recent high numbers arriving near Malaga suggest routes from Africa have changed’. Story at Sur in English here.

Scientists have warned that putting Spain back onto GMT as it was before World War II would be 'disastrous' and do little or nothing to improve the work-life balance’. Report at Eye on Spain here.

Cadena Ser has a study showing that the traffic cops are increasingly likely to fine drivers rather than help them. So say the statistics, anyway...

After four years of bureaucratic blockage, the large photovoltaic installation planned in the municipality of Elche, Alicante, by a Chinese investment fund has received the approval of the Valencian government. The plant, which was announced as the largest in Europe, could begin construction this spring...’. News from Energías Renovables.

The Pastafaris, who follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Wiki), are upset after their religion was rejected for the second time by the Registro de Entidades Religiosas at the Ministry of Justice which has pronounced the group as silly. El Español reports that a spokesperson for the Church pointed out that The State cannot refuse them as a religion for having absurd ideas, as, he says, “...all the other ones do as well”.

The Price of the energy bill has gone up sharply – with an average 100€ per annum increase, says El Mundo, quoting the Minister for Energy and his excuses...

It was cheaper for two British women to fly to Málaga to meet up than it was for one of them to take a train from Newcastle to Birmingham, marvels Público here. They would have had more fun, too.

A chilly few days for Spain. It snows in Denia and Torrevieja (103 years later…).

The bad behaviour of British tourists abroad caused a surge in complaints to police in Barcelona last year – but where else dreads their arrival?’. Item from The Guardian.

History: ‘1898: Spanish at Guam Thought the Attacking USS Charleston Fired Salute Shots & Asked For Gunpowder To Return the Gesture’. War History Online has the story.

The best place to be an expatriate, according to HSBC. Spain comes second (after New Zealand). See Business Insider here.

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See Spain:

Let’s go tilt at some windmills in La Mancha with Anything but Paella here.

On the top of a rocky ridge in near the town of Barbastro in the Huesca province is a small shrine dedicated to the Virgin of Torreciudad, a “Black Madonna.” Black Madonna’s are images of the Virgin Mary depicted with dark skin. Created in medieval Europe, the origin of the black Madonna are unknown though some scholars believe that the dark skin represents a blending with pre-Christian female icons. Relatively rare, with roughly 350-400 throughout Europe, they are seen as special and given particular reverence...’. Found here at Max Abroad: the Best of Spain.

Here you can find a selection of some of Madrid´s temporary exhibitions in spring 2017.

From The Telegraph: ‘20 amazing places in Spain that the British haven't discovered yet’.

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Finally:

Lekeflamenko: Raimundo Amador - Patapalo y Seguiriya de Pildorilla con Diego Amador on YouTube here.

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Press Note from AUAN.

A judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 10th January has condemned Spain for a violation of article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to a fair trial, in a case involving the owners of an apartment in Sanxenxo, Galicia who were not informed of legal proceedings to revoke the planning permission for their property thus denying them an opportunity to defend their interests. The proceedings resulted in a demolition order.

Welcoming the decision the homeowners association AUAN said that it hopes that this ruling will open the way to the annulment of many similar proceedings and points out that in any case this judgement sends the message to the Spanish courts to place an emphasis on the protection of third parties in good faith, and the necessity to respect their legitimate rights.

It is also a timely judgement, according to AUAN, given that the Spanish Supreme Court has been asked to interpret a change to legislation brought about by the homeowners associations, a change to Article 108.3 of the Ley de la Jurisdicción Contencioso-Administrativa (LJCA), as a result of a challenge mounted by Town Halls in Cantabria facing large compensation payments to third parties as a result of administrative failings that resulted in demolition orders against properties purchased by homeowners in good faith.

AUAN adds that this injustice, now highlighted by the ECHR, has been denounced again and again in all corners of the Spanish legal system by the associations, who cannot understand how anyone can be punished by the threat of demolition or indeed the demolition of their home when they have not themselves been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

AUANs president, Maura Hillen MBE, commenting on the ruling said “We welcome this ruling as a vindication for homeowners but I also note with some sadness that this judgement of 10th January 2017 comes 9 years and 1 day after the demolition of the home of Helen and Len Prior in Vera on 9th January 2008 without compensation. Their day of justice has yet to come”.

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Business Over Tapas 19 January 2017 Nº 192

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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