Business over Tapas (Nbr. 356)
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: Prepared by Lenox Napier. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
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Many people dream of coming to live in Spain, and who can blame them? It’s a great place. However, one has to cost ones’ dreams, and while life is cheaper here than in Northern Europe, it still bites.
So then, we need income. This preferably comes from ‘home’, either as a pension or some other form of funding – a healthy portfolio for example.
Know that it is not easy to find a job as unemployment here is high (and post-Covid, higher). Also, Spaniards don’t often offer jobs to foreigners and, well, they do things differently here. For a start, your certificates and diplomas and letters of introduction may not carry much weight. Contacts and family rule in Spain, and we foreigners likely won’t have that essential network.
There may be some jobs available in Madrid and Barcelona with foreign banks or accountants and so on, but there won’t be many available in any normal Spanish-controlled industry.
Maybe start your own business, or open a (oh no, not another) bar or restaurant, or teach your native language as an au pair or at some academia (presumably you’ll have the correct paperwork).
Remember that Spaniards don’t particularly drink in Brit bars or eat in foreign restaurants (Italian places excluded), so – apart from the eager expats living locally – the catchment area of potential customers is smaller than the population would suggest, and the rents (and other costs) are often higher than one would like.
Which is why many of us cater for the tourists; but the Spanish are looking for them as well, and they can always undercut and overreach our efforts.
But there are many foreigners here who do work successfully. It certainly can be done.
An interesting new wrinkle on extranjeros keeping busy here is the new phenomenon of teleworking which, says Yahoo Finance, ‘could bring many foreigners to live in Spain’.
There are other businesses we guiris get into – like builders, house-painters, carpenters and pool-cleaners and plumbers – but once again, no Spaniard is going to hire a British housepainter.
One thing they know is that a foreigner can (and will) do ‘a runner’ when things go bad, leaving behind debt and ill-will. A family-connected Spaniard will tend to stay where he is and face the music while the law must grind its way through the agonisingly-long process.
Some of the foreign handymen will be un-licensed, or working for cash, or they may even take the next step, and, knowing that the judicial system here is little short of hopeless, they will simply live from diddling their fellow-foreigners.
How many of us, newly arrived in Spain, were met with the question (probably in a bar) ‘are you going to live here? It’s all a bit strange, you know. I speak the language, let me help you get started…’. In short, how many of us have been taken for a ride by our fellow nationals?
Spain is a great place, but it can find your weaknesses – whether it is drink, drugs, destroying relationships, theft or swindling people. There’s no Auntie Maud or Uncle Eustace to keep you on the straight.
There are different rules, customs and systems here, and the newly-arrived well-meaning immigrant won’t know them. Sometimes, it will be a steep learning curve.
And finally, consider this, things will get worse for the Brits if/when we will need a work-permit as non-EU citizens. So, if you are a Brit and planning to come and work, do it soon.
A campaign (with video) recalls that ‘the streets are still empty’ in Spain’s forgotten villages. 54% of Spain is at risk of de-population.
Idealista (here in English) in a major article says ‘House prices in Spain: how COVID-19 has affected the property market’.
‘If teleworking is definitely implemented, should we continue to live where we live? Many people are now considering the idea of leaving big cities and returning to their place of origin’ or, at least, somewhere quiet or inexpensive. The story is at Bolsamanía here.
From Hillen Real estate advice, management and mediation here: ‘Homebuyers Checklist for Property Resales - Be guided by experience’. Maura Hillen may be familiar to readers as the past president of the AUAN.
International tourism, at least those from the EU (plus the UK), began again last Sunday. Those in the tourist business were generally pleased by this, although some ordinary Spaniards were worried by the possible arrival of coronavirus-carriers. We are told in Sunday’s Córdoba Buenas Noticias that ‘Spain opens its doors without quarantine to the British from today despite the fact that on Saturday they reported 1,295 infections and 128 deaths in that country’.
In theory, tourists from the USA and Canada, Latin America, Africa, Oceania and Asia will be able to book their holidays to Spain from June 30th, but travel bans may soon be introduced for countries struggling with Covid infections. The story is at The Local here.
‘The first Brits touch down for some sun as price of a one-week holiday drops to £300’. Item from The Daily Mail here.
El Confidencial here: ‘The Russian roulette to reopen tourist businesses: "It is that or to close forever". The planes land again in Spain, but so far, more flights do not mean more reservations. The tourist season will certainly be a disaster and the best one can hope for is to cover expenses’.
The Secretary of State launches the ‘Responsible Tourism’ distinction. It’s free to businesses, who must fill in an online form and agree to the Covid recommendations.
Spain’s ban on cruise ships docking is extended indefinitely says The Olive Press.
From The Guardian here: ‘The end of tourism? The pandemic has devastated global tourism, and many will say ‘good riddance’ to overcrowded cities and rubbish-strewn natural wonders. Is there any way to reinvent an industry that does so much damage?’
From El Español here: ‘The US could impose about 900 million euros in tariffs on Spain in response to the Google Tax (here). This amount is not far short of the 968 million euros that Hacienda hopes to collect with the controversial tax on large technology companies’. The ABC has this: ‘The USA suspends negotiations with Spain for the Google Tax and threatens retaliation. The US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has sent a letter to the governments of Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Italy in which he considers the talks to be broken and Hacienda says that it does not intend to change its plans’.
‘The Spanish government is sticking to its previous "prudent" forecast of gradual recovery in the second half of 2020 after the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy minister said on Wednesday. Nadia Calviño said that despite recent signs of more favourable data in labour market figures, the government would not change its prediction of 9.2% contraction in 2020 announced at the beginning of May…’. Calviño's comments came before the International Monetary Fund published a forecast of a 12.8% economic slump for Spain this year says The New York Times here.
El Salto brings a useful glossary of euphemisms employed by business leaders. ‘Good for our Country’ is one (good for the IBEX35, anyhow), and ‘We are the ones who pay taxes and contribute’ is another excellent one (as little as possible, my friends, as little as possible). ‘Legal security’ (we have some great lawyers), ‘we must be flexible and competitive’ (to fight against workers’ and small business’ rights) and ‘we are all in agreement’ (yes) as ‘we know how to do things’ (without getting hurt). Splendid.
If you don’t mind being called an ‘expat’ (and why should you?) then this article from iExpats is for you. ‘Financial Advice in Spain’ brings exhaustive information on the subject.
Vox appears to have adopted the tactic that the louder and sillier the lies, the better. Here’s the Cadena Ser: ‘Vox's speech that made Irene Montero cover her cheeks with her hands in shock. The Minister of Equality made the gesture when listening to Vox’s Macarena Olona say that "the Government applauds the aggressors of the Guardia Civil wives" and that the Government offers "morphine" to the "old women of the care-homes"’. With video.
Pablo Iglesias is having trouble with his 2% ‘Covid-tax’ on the wealthy (that’s to say, anyone worth over a million euros). Not only do the moneyed citizens not care for it – understandably enough – neither does most of the opposition, and even some of the PSOE ‘barons’ (i.e, regional presidents) like Emiliano García-Page (Castilla-La Mancha), Aragón’s Javier Lambán, and from Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Vara.
From The Guardian here: ‘No enemy but the virus? Why Spain's opposition is rounding on the government. Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist-led coalition is under attack from the far right over its handling of the crisis’.
‘A report sent to the European Commission by the Partido Popular to attack the Government questions the rule of law in Spain. The report sent by Dolors Montserrat to the Community Executive, called Evaluation of the Measures Applied in Spain during the State of Alarm, accuses the Government of abuse of power and of "covering up figures" of the deceased’. The story at eldiario.es here. The French ambassador commenting on the PP strategy in Brussels says ‘Anyone who lives in Spain could not believe that individual liberties are in danger’.
Deputy President Carmen Calvo: "The Government does not deserve the irrational and constant harassment, particularly from the PP". El Huff Post reports here.
An essay at Menéame considers the escalation of forces ranged against the Government. ‘…A second recent movement is the change in the direction of El País, Soledad Gallego-Díaz leaves and Javier Moreno enters, or as someone has said, Soledad leaves and Ciudadanos enters. The general feeling among journalists is the same – Felipe González and the Banco de Santander have decided that Prisa was not going to stay out of the effort to evict Podemos from this government. After all, Ana Botín (Banco de Santander) must have thought, if I buy a dilapidated newspaper, I might as well use it…’.
Gabriel Rufián from the ERC makes two points against the Government in the Cortes. The Royals and the GAL. The short video is on YouTube here.
The forthcoming elections in Galicia and the Basque Country are expected to have ‘no change’. The CIS anticipates the PP to win outright in Galicia (Alberto Núñez Feijóo) and the PNV (Iñigo Urkullu) to return in the País Vasco with the support of the PSE-EE (the local version of the PSOE). The details are at La Vanguardia here.
HMA Hugh Elliott updates British nationals on residency in Spain, video here.
Spain’s ‘new normality’ – the new rules region by region. The state of alarm came to an end in most of Spain last Sunday, but now each territory can set its own regulations. A rundown of what they are choosing to do is here, with El País in English.
The State of Alarm is over. Goodbye to 99 days that no one could have ever imagined. The problems will come in mid-July, according to sources from within the Ministry of Health, with the arrival of thousands or tens of thousands of tourists who, like all tourists, only want to enjoy what they have paid for. Without problems, without rules, without anguish. And that means not wanting to go to the doctor if they have a fever, especially when they risk spending the rest of their holiday isolated in their hotel. La Vanguardia fears the worst.
‘More than 700,000 people in Spain will be forced into poverty due to coronavirus, according to Oxfam’, says The Olive Press here.
‘The Spanish government has approved a Royal Decree-Law with a set of measures to promote an orderly and rapid transition to an energy system based on renewables. There are currently applications for access and connection to the wind and solar projects grid totalling 430,000 MW (some no doubt merely speculative), while the government’s goal is to install 50,000MW by 2030…’. The Corner reports here.
"No one will save the planet for us". ‘A horrid video shows marine litter in Alicante. A biologist from Alicante publishes images in which thousands of remains of wipes, handkerchiefs and bits of plastic can be seen in one of the local coves: "There are no words to define what I was seeing" he says sadly’. The story at Información is here and the video on Instagram here.
Some good news from the Mar Menor. ‘The Mar Menor has been freed in the last month from the entry of 230,000 cubic meters of water laden with nutrients from the Rambla del Albujón, according to data from the Segura Hydrographic Confederation. If this rhythm is maintained, an annual discharge into the lagoon of 3 hectometres of junk would be avoided.
Save La Tejita! ‘No administration dares to stop a five-star hotel on a virgin beach in Tenerife for fear of compensation’. Headline from eldiario.es here.
The Junta de Andalucía has declared ‘environmentally viable’ the project of a four-star hotel with 30 rooms and a pool at the 'Cortijo Las Chiqueras', opposite the Bahía de Los Genoveses, in the Cabo de Gata (Almería) natural park. The story is here.
From The Olive Press, ‘King Felipe and Queen Letizia embark on a Royal tour of Spain in order to promote new normality and encourage tourism’. Here.
‘Bullfighting will be excepted from the future Animal Welfare Law. The Minister of Culture Rodríguez Uribes joined with representatives of the bullfighting sector in a meeting in which he has also confirmed that bullfighting professionals are entitled to the Government’s special aid for artists’ says Aplausos here.
The European Film Academy names the Desert of Tabernas (Almería) as 'Treasure of European Film Culture’. The story at Onda Cero here.
‘Valencian is spoken by 15% of the population in Valencia (València) and 71% of the central parts of the region. The Plataforma per la Llengua presents "worrying data" in its latest 2020 report – as the Escola Valenciana asks for a new institutional statement’. From Levante, an article in Spanish comments on the Plataforma per la Llengua and their ‘conviction that Valencian must be the common language and the backbone of social and cultural diversity’. What do you think, if you live on the Costa Blanca, should you learn to speak Valencian too?
The Cadena Ser brings another before-and-after of a religious painting, poorly restored. From BBC News here: ‘The story of how East Anglia became a safe haven for Basque child refugees of the Spanish Civil War has been revealed online through rarely seen film and photographs. Nearly 4,000 boys and girls arrived at Southampton in May 1937 and some found refuge in volunteer-run colonies…’.
Spain protests against the recent attacks against the statues of Cervantes and Junípero Serra (Wiki) in the USA says El Periodico indignantly. It’s one thing for the Black Lives Matter people to take a pop at Columbus, but, for Goodness sake, says Strambotic, poor old Cervantes spent five years, from 1575 to 1580, as a slave in Algiers. The current problem with the statues brings us to a video called ‘Presentismo: evaluating the past through the morals of the present’. See it at YouTube here.
An article on why no one can control ‘Big Alcohol’ explains that the brewers and distillers account for 2% of Spain’s GDP – with beer taking over half of that at 1.3% of GDP. Tobacco, by contrast, is worth 0.3%. ‘Drink responsibly’ they say and no one can deny them… The story is at El País here.
‘The online catalogue and exhibition of The Irish College, Salamanca Archive in the John Paul II, Library at St Patricks College/NUI Maynooth holds over 50,000 documents from the late sixteenth to the mid-twentieth century, mainly from the Irish College in Salamanca but includes colleges in Alcalá de Henares, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Madrid and Lisbon. The Irish colleges acted as service and social centres for Irish religious communities implanted all over Spain with the specific task of educating and training students for the priesthood and providing accommodation for Irish lay students. The archives are the property of the Irish Episcopal Conference and were deposited in St Patricks College, Maynooth in 1951 when the last of the Irish Colleges in Salamanca closed its doors. It is the most important Spanish language archive collection in Ireland’. More here.
From Irish Central here: ‘The Irish took sides in the Spanish Civil War eighty years ago this summer. Irish Blueshirts and socialists fought against each other on Spanish soil as Franco led a Fascist uprising’. Plus some video material.
‘Royal residences have naturally built a stately reputation closely intermingled with luxury, with most royals currently housed in some of the most stunning properties their countries have to offer. Why does the Spanish royal family opt to live outside of their royal residence?...’. The question is posed (and answered) by The Express here.
‘If you don’t live near the sea or just can’t travel this summer because of COVID-19 restrictions, there’s one more way to get your beach vacation — bring it to your own backyard’. A Spanish company called Piscinas de Arena NaturSand is offering just that. Well, kinda. Piscinas de Arena NaturSand specializes in “sand pools” — custom pools that are as close to real beaches as it gets. And if people already have a pool of their own, the company can simply convert it into something straight out of a Mediterranean paradise. More at Bored Panda here and the NaturSand people are here.
Spain’s oldest castle standing is the tenth century Castillo de Burgalimar, in the town of Baños de la Encina (Jaén). With España Fascinante here.
(The Junta de Andalucía has said that it needs to cover or recoup the loss in tourist-dollars this year, so it is opening up building permits as far as it can. BoT 355)
That is so short sighted, and it’s absurd to think that we should sacrifice areas of natural beauty and of special scientific interest because of some short term economic losses as a result of CV19. This proposal and or similar other proposals are not the way to build sustainable economic security for the future of the area. The protection of nature, the promotion of the natural environment and its natural characteristics, for the benefit of the greater community are surely the way forward.
There’s some play-lists of Pedro Sánchez’ favourite Rock n Roll tracks on Spotify here.
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