Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 200)

Business over Tapas (Nº 200)

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner – Sent by José Antonio Sierra (CCLAM)

viernes 17 de marzo de 2017, 00:46h

17MAR17.- 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. For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: [email protected] - ***Now with Facebook Page (Like!)*** - Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access. Business over Tapas and its writers are not responsible for unauthorised copying or other improper use of this material.


The PSOE intrigue: another one of those elections we can only watch from the sidelines. There are, or will be, three candidates for the position of General Secretary, all currently being pushed on the TV and in the newspapers as powerful alternatives. The Media can afford to be generous – the PSOE is currently languishing with just 19% of the voters’ support (Metroscopia 11/03/17 here). Pedro Sánchez, the previous leader, outed in a palace coup, yet respected for his energy and his ‘no means no’ (he wouldn’t give in to allowing Rajoy to be returned as president after the frustrated elections of last year). Pedro is on the left of the party and he could even draw towards Podemos. He is making the senior PSOE leaders (known as ‘los barones’) nervous. More here.

The second candidate, perhaps a man for the middle, is the Basque leader Patxi López. He was the President of the Congress in the last parliament (the speaker of the house) and is calling, what else, for ‘unity’. He says ‘there’s no point in destroying the party to win control of it’. See him here.

Lastly, and waiting until the 22nd of this month for her formal announcement to run, is Andalucía’s Susana Díaz. She already has the support of most of los barones (including Zapatero himself here). Andalucía is the strongest supporter of socialism in Spain, and Susana is their champion.

The new leader will not be chosen, however, until the result taken in the late May primaries is ratified in the June party congress. Plenty of time.


Much is written of the improvement or otherwise of house sales in Spain. Some comes from free newspapers (who might be more beholden to their advertisers than to their readers). One headline from a freebie we won’t trouble ourselves with says this week that the Spanish property market is stronger than ever before, another source (and very pro-Brexit), The Sun, leads with the opposite: ‘Brits ditching plans to retire in sunny Spain amid fears Spanish government will punish expats by barring healthcare and pensions after Brexit’. Our factual property analysis with Andrew Brociner is below.

What happens if you go away on holiday, or to hospital, and you find on your return that there are people living in your house? New laws, designed to help householders against the banks, are being exploited by the ‘occupation mafia’ to keep them ‘in’ and you ‘out’. One owner returned home and found this message on his door: “This is – provisionally – OUR DOMICILE, and we have to intention of moving out. We invite any individual or legal entity that questions our right to remain in this house, to resort to the judicial process so that the courts can resolve what they deem to be appropriate”. That’ll take a while. Indeed, you can even face prison for attempting to eject them. (By the way, don’t forget to keep on paying the hipoteca). The story is at Vozpópuli here. Indeed, a Palma resident has just been arrested for breaking in to her own home in an attempt to remove a squatter. The story here.

‘Spain struggles to repopulate its deserted rural interior’, an interesting story found here at The Local. An excerpt: ‘...It makes Spain a "strange country within Europe" since no other similarly sized nation on the continent has such demographic deserts, Spanish writer Sergio del Molino wrote in his travel book "La España Vacía", published last year...’.

From the AUAN Facebook page: ‘Coinciding with the second anniversary of the changes in the Senate to protect third party purchasers in good faith of properties that turned out to be illegal, AUAN announces the creation of the “Justice in Planning” prize, to recognise individuals, organisations or entities that have contributed in a significant way to improve planning justice within society, achieving greater defence and protection for the human rights of citizens in the area of planning...’. Perhaps Helen and Len Prior, now over nine years living in their garage in Vera? The story is reported by La Voz de Almería here.


‘Spain’s tourist regions to be hardest hit by Brexit’, says El País in English. ‘Valencia, Balearics and Canary Islands most likely to suffer, Spanish government report indicates’. The curious article suggests that British numbers visiting Spain would fall (for no very good reason), but doesn’t consider the possible impact on British property owners. Perhaps they have muddled up the two things.

From Typically Spanish: Car Hire Companies and Consulate on the Costa Blanca join forces to combat vehicle break ins: ‘Thefts of valuables and passports from hire cars create significant problems both for those travelling or living overseas. A lost passport usually means a trip to the Consulate to obtain an emergency travel document to get travellers home. Lost credit cards, boarding passes and mobile phones can further complicate the situation...’.

‘Brexit fears prompt Susana Díaz Germany trip to try and target new holidaymakers. The Junta de Andalucía head spent last weekend at the International Tourism Berlin fair due to 'uncertainties' over the impact of Britain leaving the EU...’. From The Olive Press here.


‘Spain scraps language test for elderly applicants for Jewish law of return. Spanish authorities dispensed with language and culture tests for elderly applicants for citizenship under the country’s law of return for Sephardi Jews. The Spanish Justice Ministry decided to offer the dispensation from tests on the Spanish language and heritage, which were mandated for citizenship applicants under the 2013 law, after it emerged that the tests effectively barred hundreds of elderly Turkish Jews from exercising their right to a Spanish passport ... Spain has naturalized 4,919 applicants for citizenship by Sephardim since the law went into effect last year. However, only 387 applicants were granted citizenship based on the actual law. Others were naturalized by a royal decree and not through the non-discretionary procedure devised for the law...’. The item comes from JTA here.


La Voz de Galicia looks at the many ways the power companies rip off the consumers. (Thanks to Colin Davies. His useful daily blog, Thoughts from Galicia, is here).

Brussels alerts Spain for the generalised use of ‘temporary work contracts’, Europa Press reports here. ‘The European Commission has warned of the "generalized" use of temporary contracts in Spain and the negative effects it implies for the country's productivity, while criticizing that they often "fail" to serve as a gateway to stable labour careers, and may be associated with a high risk of poverty. The Commission has presented its annual report on macroeconomic imbalances, in which it warns that, despite a "strong" recovery, Spain has not completely overcome the "legacy" of the crisis and that it still faces a series of challenges...’.

Spanish banks are still heavily exposed to real estate, says Mark Stücklin. ‘...In 2016 the main banks Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Sabadell, Popular, and Bankia off-loaded 70,129 properties for 10.500 million euros, the equivalent of 192 sales per day, including homes, land, and offices. Even so, these banks still have more than 100,000 million euros of real estate exposure, most of it (€68,000 million) properties, the rest bad loans to developers. It’s about 15% of their balance sheet, with provisions made already for just 50% of that figure...’. More at Spanish Property Insight here.

‘Moody's has affirmed the long-term rating on the Banco Popular Español as Ba2 (‘Judged to have speculative elements and a significant credit risk’ – Wiki), although it has changed the outlook on the long-term deposit from "positive" to "negative", implying that it may adopt a downgrade soon...’. Late news from Bolsamanía here.


A survey shows that the Partido Popular remains in front position, says El País, with 31.2% support, followed by Unidos Podemos with 21.5%, the PSOE at 19% and Ciudadanos at 16.5%. The PP has fallen slightly, due to its corruption record. Another poll, the Celeste-Tel for El Diario, gives better marks to the PSOE, with the PP at 35.6%, PSOE at 22.1%, Unidos Podemos at 19.3 and Ciudadanos at 12.1%.

The entire Opposition put forward a motion in the Cortes to discuss the so-called ‘Sun Tax’. The PP squashed the proposal. ‘There’d be less tax’, they explained dismissively... The story is reported by El Boletín here.

Podemos is going against the Church, it appears. El Español reports on the efforts by the group to stop the televised Sunday Mass on TVE as well as campaigning for certain properties, including the Córdoba mosque, to be ‘returned’ to the State.

Pedro Sánchez supporters say that they are being victimised by the PSOE, with names mysteriously missing from the Party Census and so on. More at Cuarto Poder here.

‘Madrid warns of “negative consequences” of Brexit on Spain. Government report predicts heavy cost to economy and risks to tourist industry, as well as migration’. The report appears in El País and its English version here and here. It begins: ‘It’s going to be a so-called hard Brexit: for the European Union, for the United Kingdom, and for Spain. That is the finding of an internal report produced by the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for the Brexit commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría – a document which warns of the impact on Spain of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The Spanish economy will “suffer the negative consequences” of the departure of one of the country’s leading trading partners from the bloc. The situation of British nationals resident in Spain and that of Spaniards living in the United Kingdom is also a matter for concern: Brexit will lead to “innumerable repercussions” for more than one million people, says the document, which EL PAÍS has seen...’. The Guardian also covers the story here.


La corrupción may not be a big deal in Spain, says El Confidencial, but our reputation abroad is plummeting. Transparency International has recently downgraded Spain from the 36th to the 41st place in the ranking of 176 countries or regions. In the EU, Spain is 17th out of 28. Examples are given...

According to Brussels in its Regional Competitivity Index, Andalucía is the most corrupt region in Spain, with La Rioja being the least corrupt. Libre Mercado has more here.

El Diario reports that the President of the autonomous Region of MurciaPedro Antonio Sánchez, now facing a motion of censure led by his erstwhile partners Ciudadanos, paid for two million euros worth of materials that didn’t exist, while mayor of Puerto Lumbreras (2003 to 2013). El Español says that the previous president of Murcia, Alberto Garre, is scandalised by these events and is now considering leaving the PP and joining a local party.

A funcionario in the Hacienda offices in Málaga is one of several arrested following an inquiry by the police into a case of money laundering, says Europa Press here.

The prosecutor is investigating twenty-five companies with ties to the president of the PP in Almería Gabriel Amat, who is also the mayor of Roquetas de Mar. Sr Amat is said to have given a number of building licences improperly to companies controlled by no less than 53 of his own relatives. El País has the story here.


Various stories on Catalonian independence are on the Vilaweb page in English here.


‘Brexit causes anguish on Gibraltar’, from The Conversation here.


The judge in the complaint against the drag artist who upset many people with his carnival act in Las Palmas recently, has absolved ‘Drag Sethlas’ as ‘he wasn’t trying to offend’!


A rare article in the Spanish press on the British ex-pats living in Spain and their fears for Brexit in El Mundo here.

El Huff Post reports that the British government has ‘removed the rights of European citizens from the Brexit law’.

‘Scotland is not Catalonia, and Northern Ireland is not Gibraltar’, El País explains the Spanish government’s thinking. ‘Why Spain will block any attempt by Scotland to join the EU’. Giles Tremlett from The Guardian explores the complications here.

One of Lenox’ silly articles on Brexit here. In Spanish here. Maybe not so silly after all.


We hear of ‘fake news-sites’ in America and Europe. A Spanish one called Hay Noticia caught out a few people this week with their story: ‘Tips in bars and restaurants will become compulsory from May’. Of course, like most good jokes, there’s a serious point to be made...


The Housing Sector: population and the demand for housing

by Andrew Brociner

We have looked at different components of the supply and demand for housing. In the last issue, we looked at some aspects of demand in new households set up and found that Spain has been on a decreasing trend ever since the boom was over. We continue examining this point in this issue.

A factor which contributed to this decreased demand for housing was emigration.

Part of what fed the demand for housing in the boom years was massive immigration. After the boom ended, quite the reverse took place, with emigration occurring for many years, at quite a significant pace. And although emigration has recently tapered off, the cumulative effect of this exodus has been quite large over the years. Together with other factors, such as low fertility, it has led to a decrease in households set up and in the population of Spain.

The population of Spain has decreased by 350,000 people since 2008, although it seems to have stabilised in the past year. Still, the situation is nothing like during the boom, with a greatly growing population, and with it, a growing need for more housing. The one bit of positive news is that by the second half of 2015, a trough seems to have been reached and since then, the population started incrementing again, by 60,000 people in the past year.

This increase has to do with migratory flows.

What is interesting to see is what happens before arriving at zero net flows. Whereas emigration appears to have almost reverted to its 2008 rate, immigration, although now incrementing, is still at only one half of what it was. Those were extraordinary times in Spain and it is unlikely we will be going there any time soon. As we are still far from those figures, we shall have to monitor the situation to see if this continues. For the time being, however, we are just barely into positive territory after years of a declining population.


It’s odd how Spain claims credit, as we read in Nature, with their scientists who have moved abroad to find work: ‘How dare you call us diplomats’, writes Amaya Moro-Martín, furious about Spanish government attempts to brand her and other exiled scientists as strategic partners. ‘I never considered myself a diplomat, so it came as a surprise to be labelled as one last month by the Spanish government. Officially, Spanish emigrant scientists like me, forced to leave Spain because of the dire circumstances surrounding research at home, did not previously exist. We were told we were an ‘urban legend’. Now, I learn, not only am I real but I am also part of a deliberate and cunning political strategy by the Spanish government to send scientists overseas to seed international collaboration and to strengthen, not weaken, Spanish science...’.

Susana Díaz has a jolly ninot (model) of herself as a sultana – the queen of the PSOE, in the Valencia Fallas. The picture and story here.

A video here explains the laws regarding using drones in Spain and the EU.

Honouring a religious icon – a Virgin Mary, a Christ or a saint – with a medal sounds a bit peculiar, but there are better than 200 of them in Spain, says Público here.

‘An acclaimed artwork is to be sold from Carmen Thyssen’s collection. Edgar Degas’s Race Horses in a Landscape will be flogged by the baroness, who said that she is being forced to sell it due to ‘current liquidity problems.’ ... Under the current agreement with the Spanish government, Thyssen can sell up to 10 percent of the total value of her collection, worth a combined €750 million’. From The Olive Press.

‘The revolution of the electric car in Madrid: more than three million trips per year. The rides with Car2Go and Emov rental cars have multiplied as an alternative to the traditional taxi in Madrid...’. Story at Bolsamanía.

An ‘atypical’ case of ‘Mad Cow Disease’ Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was found in a routine inspection on a farm near Salamanca earlier this month, says the World Organisation for Animal Health based in Paris. The animal was destroyed and the situation is being monitored. There appears to be no health risk for humans, says Reuters here.

The new cash-crop for Spain is the pistachio. A feature at El Confidencial here.

Having just met some farmers from the interior of the province of Málaga, whose accent and usage was a trifle hard to follow; we found a post remarking on the oddity of Almerian Spanish here.

A female Guardia Civil was unable to wear a regulation bullet-proof jacket ‘as it had been designed for a man’. She bought her own jacket by mail-order. Agent Alicia Sánchez is now facing disciplinary action. She is interviewed by El Español here.

‘Alicante left reeling from the deluge of the century. Record downpour floods ground-floor premises and shuts down schools; no victims reported’. Video at El País in English here.

‘Team ‘OLA’ has become the British Consulate’s eyes and ears on the street, playing a vital role in testing the mood of expats in changing times. An experiment launched in Alicante a year ago, key figures in communities across the Costa Blanca and Murcia were handpicked to become ‘Our Local Ambassadors’ – using their personal experiences to help others. And what started as an experiment is set to be expanded with the part-time diplomatic corps passing back first hand reports of topical issues such as Brexit back to the embassy in Madrid and, ultimately, to London...’. Found at The Expat News here.

See Spain:

‘Basque-ing on the coast #1 – Mundaka’. Anything but Paella visits the beautiful fishing and surfing village here.

Find Business over Tapas on Facebook here.

‘Spain's Moriscos: a 400 year old Muslim tragedy is a story for today. Matthew Carr, the author of Blood and Faith, explains how the plight of the Moriscos, driven from their home country as detested aliens, has urgent lessons for our own age’. From The Guardian here.

The tragic story leading to the creation of Pablo Picasso’s powerful painting ‘Guernica’ is told at Daily Art Daily here.


Dear Lenox,

I wanted to comment on your snippet (here) concerning Spanish laws and Spanish bureaucracy. From what you write (and wrote earlier) I take it you haven't had to deal much with British laws and bureaucracy of late? Or, for that matter, Dutch laws and bureaucracy.

What I find so refreshing in Spain is that there is little or no moral disapproval if you don't observe all the laws. If you break a law (or do not observe it) and get caught, you get fined - and the neighbours just shrug their shoulders and laugh a little for being such a fool as to get caught. Our experience has been that even the stern bureaucrats in Hacienda often shrug their shoulders and try to help us find a way of avoiding the worst tangles. Whereas in Holland and England, people who break the law also get disapproval ladled over them as being immoral and wicked - the neighbours won't speak to them and their children are not allowed to play with the children of the malefactor.

I suppose a lot of your time (and certainly a lot of our time) is spent on constructing methods of avoiding the problems encountered in observing all the laws, but then we have the same problems in Holland and England. It is just that each country has a different area in which it is difficult and a lot of time passed in getting used to one country is spent on finding the "wriggle room". Un saludo, Jan.

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