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Business over Tapas (Nº 241)
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Business over Tapas (Nº 241)

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Sent by José Antonio Sierra

jueves 18 de enero de 2018, 10:14h

18ENE18.- 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: businessovertapas@gmail.com - ***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.

Editorial:

Perhaps Podemos should have a close look at itself. It is losing support and has fallen into fourth place. Its message may be as important as ever, but, as with all far-left parties, there are too many tendencies pulling in various directions. Not helping this, the leader of the party, Pablo Iglesias, tends towards an autocratic control of the group, with the consequent loss of some of his associates.

Iglesias is a clever man, and has some good ideas, but he is not strong on self-criticism (an exception following his poor results in Catalonia has been posted heavily in the media). Indeed, there are few newspapers or other sources which have much to say for Podemos either by itself or in coalition with the Izquierda Unida as Unidos Podemos, and, apart from El Diario and Público (both cyber-news sites) the corporate media is uniformly hostile.

Podemos shot to fame a few years back, but maybe their star is burning out. Certainly a president with a pony-tail may be a step too far for most people to imagine.

It’s also true that the voters can be fickle and, as this video shows, quite foolish. Podemos also makes for good jokes, as the fake news site El Mundo Today knows. However, within the joke (Podemos, ‘We Can’, to change its name to ‘We Want’), a kernel grows: the group is indeed considering changing its name as part of a change in image (maybe you should consider cutting off that coleta, Pablo!).

Housing:

There’s an apartment for sale in Tarragona with the price in Bitcoins (Wiki). ‘The property has a price of 40 Bitcoins, which at the current exchange rate is equivalent to 550,000 euros’, says El País here.

‘The EU puts the spotlight on one of the biggest cases of uncontrolled urban blight in Fuerteventura. Europe has a case against Spain for violating environmental protection regulations in the ‘Origo Mare’ urbanisation, which was built despite court rulings against it’. The urbanisation is used by the holiday company Pierre & Vacances (Jet2 promo here). The story is at El Diario here.

From Seeking Alpha comes ‘The Story of the Spanish Real Estate Bubble’. Good stuff.

From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight comes ‘The Costa Blanca is home to 20pc of Spain’s luxury home market, claims portal’. ‘Luxury homes’ appear to be priced around 1.8 million euros by the way...

From Spanish Property Insight, if you are renting, here are ‘Seven illegal clauses in Spanish rental contracts’.

The Leader has ‘Four reasons why you should move to Spain’ here.

CLAMOR IN THE VALLEY OF ALMANZORA

A massive meeting, organised by AUAN and Albanchez Residents Association (ARA), took place in Albanchez (Northern Almería) on Monday 15th January to ask for an urgent and once and for all solution to the issue of illegal houses in the Valley of Almanzora, as well as the rest of Andalucía. The cultural centre in Albanchez was packed with many attendees having to stand. The meeting was not only attended by residents of Albanchez but also by residents from other municipalities in the Valley.

The lawyer and spokesperson for AUAN, Gerardo Vazquez, was one of the organizers of the meeting which was chaired by Estanislao Beltran, the president of Albanchez Residents Association. The panel also consisted of Maura Hillen, president of AUAN; Marta Bosquet, member of the Andalusian parliament and the national executive of Ciudadanos; Francisco Ramos, provincial coordinator of Ciudadanos; Eduardo Amor, planning lawyer; Benedicto Bonil, technical architect and Ronnie Howley, town planner. Also present were the coordinators of Ciudadanos in Cuevas de Almanzora and Albox.

In the meeting, those affected insisted that houses on asentamientos (houses waiting to be legalized via a town plan) should be allowed to obtain a form of permission known as an AFO which would at least allow them to register ownership of their property and have peace of mind whilst the legalization process, which can take up to 10 years, is ongoing.

Gerardo Vazquez explained during the meeting that there was talk of an amendment to give provisional services to houses on asentamientos for a period of two years but in his opinion “these sort of provisional licenses for such short periods of time are of little use, and are certainly of little use to the houses in the Valley of Almanzora. I believe that this is the third provisional licence that I have seen since 2012 and the last ones did not work. And the type of provisional licence suggested does nothing to solve the problem of the lack of escrituras (deeds). To solve this problem an AFO is required. And we are not just saying this now. We said this before during the last reform of the planning laws, when we explained that there was a gap in the last reform because it did not provide a solution for asentamientos. This is what we are asking for now.”.

He said, “We cannot continue with half-hearted solutions at this stage. It is time to be brave and to take the bull by the horns once and for all. It breaks my heart to see elderly people meeting at this time of the evening, asking yet again for a solution to the problems that they are unjustly suffering. And worst of all is that many of the people that we have seen before in these gatherings are no longer here because they have died whilst waiting for a sensible solution to this planning Calvary. Many have embargos on their houses, because they are in the name of a promoter with economic difficulties, which of course is of great concern. It is not logical that other houses in similar conditions are permitted to obtain deeds via an AFO, whilst they cannot because of some byzantine distinction between groups of houses on parcelaciones and these houses in asentamientos. The law has to be just to merit the name. And practical solutions have to be found that are relevant to the daily life of the people, and now is the time to provide practical solutions for the planning situation in the Valley of Almanzora”. A Press Notice from AUAN. La Voz de Almería also has the story.

Tourism:

From The Guardian: ‘Spain set to replace US as second most popular tourism destination’. Spain will claim 82.5 million international visitors for 2017 (including cruise ship passengers, onwards flight passengers, estimations of land-frontier crossings and so on). The newspaper adds ‘France set to retain top spot for 2017 – a year that saw number of global tourists leap by 7%’. According to The Independent, Spain’s rise is because of the ‘Trump Slump’ in the USA.

According to Agent Travel, there were as many as 25.5 visitors for every inhabitant in Ibiza in 2016.

From The Olive Press: ‘The first ever ferry link between Ireland and Spain has been announced by Brittany Ferries. The company presented its new route from Cork to northern Spain earlier this week. It will begin at the end of April and will link Cork and Santander, with two return trips per week. It is the first ever link between the two countries...’.

This week is FITUR in Madrid. No doubt all has gone well there... One story coming out of the tourist fair is that ‘the hoteliers insist on a more belligerent attitude against illegal competitors’. Of course. The story here.

Finance:

A study from the International Union of Railways says that the Spanish AVE is the bullet-train system with the lowest passenger per kilometre usage in the world. It contrasts Spain with 15 passengers per kilometre against France (50), Germany (83) and Japan (166). Spain has 3,000 kms of AVE rail-track in use says El Independiente. A new section of the AVE will be available to passengers from next week – Valencia to Castellón.

The Spanish national debt has risen to 1,142,000 million euros says El Salto, quoting sources from the Banco de España. Pretty grim – here’s Julio Anguita explaining where the money’s gone (video).

Politics:

‘Ciudadanos overtake the PP and PSOE and today would be the most voted party. The formation of Pablo Iglesias, Podemos, would be relegated to fourth place with the support of 15.1% of the electorate’. So says El País following their latest poll with Metroscopia. An interview with Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos is headlined ‘I could see myself governing with either the PP or PSOE’ (From El País in English here). El Español notes that the PP is deeply worried about the rise of Ciudadanos and is considering ways to reverse the trend.

‘Rajoy calls for more EU aid to control immigration in southern Europe. "The European Union must do more to help border control because we are in a territory where national states cannot be left alone because they are extremely complex issues", stresses the Spanish President in Rome’. Headline at Público here.

A proposal by the far left parties Unidos Podemos, ERC, Compromís and EH Bildu to find housing for all those who need it, including those who are evicted by the banks, has the support of Jordi Évole – here in a short video. More at El Huff Post here (a ‘decent home’ is, after all, a pillar of the Spanish Constitution, Article 47 here).

Not just Mojácar is being pruned on its padrón. A typically brief item from the Costa News reads: ‘...Alfaz del Pi has lost 3,100 people from its padrón, almost all of whom are foreign residents. This is bad news indeed for the town, as it means a reduction to the tune of €1 million in the money it receives from the state.’ More on this, in Swedish, at Spania Posten here.

Corruption:

The Caso Gürtel: ‘Nine businessmen acknowledge illegal financing of Francisco Camps’ Valencian PP. They paid expenses for the 2007 municipal campaigns and the 2008 general electionss through invoices from Orange Market, the company run by Correa, Crespo and ‘El Bigotes’’. El Español has the story here.

In the ‘Púnica’ inquiry into commissions in Madrid, one businessman has particularly alarmed the defendants by revealing that he paid 3.6 million euros to be divided between three politicians –David Marjaliza, Francisco Granados and Javier López Madrid – to get the gig to extend the city metro service in 2004. El Diario has the story here.

‘The separatist party of Catalonia's former presidents Carles Puigdemont and Artur Mas received illegal commissions in exchange for public work contracts, a Barcelona court ruled Monday after a lengthy trial. The conservative CDC party, which in 2016 changed its name to the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT), received at least €6.6 million ($8.1 million) from Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial "in exchange for guaranteeing the allocation of a certain amount of public works," the court found...’. From The Local here.

Catalonia:

By Wednesday, ERC had agreed to support Carles Puigdemont (PDeCAT) candidature as president (in exile). All a bit odd as Rajoy in Madrid will immediately bounce this and maintain the implementation of the Article 155. The Independents have an alternative which may work – to replace Puigdemont with another ‘clean’ candidate. The New York Times has the background here. On Wednesday (as part of the quid pro quo), ERC candidate Roger Torrent was elected as Speaker of the Catalan Parliament.

Bankers from private Swiss banks acknowledge the large sums of money recently arriving from Catalonian fortunes, says El Independiente here.

‘A good part of the Camp Nou (Barcelona club football stadium) stands waved yellow flags in a football game last week calling for the freedom of ‘the Jordis’: Jordi Sánchez, former president of the Catalan National Assembly, and Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Culturual, together with the incarcerated politicians Oriol Junqueras, president of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and former vice president of the Generalitat, and Joaquim Forn, former Minister of the Interior of the Generalitat...’. From El Mundo here. Furthermore, the Supreme Court will not allow Junqueras, Sànchez and Forn to attend parliamentary meetings, says El Diario here.

Much is being made of the fictitious country of Tabarnia (‘Well, it’s a natural idea to exscind ourselves from another country that doesn’t exist’, say the supporters of the anti- independentists in south-east Catalonia)... The Spanish press are pumping Tabarnia stories every day. See here, a video here, video here, in English here, The Guardian here, and the far right Libertad Digital here... Astonishingly, the Telediario on Tuesday evening reported the story of Tabarnia as its lead headline, with the ‘president’ Albert Boadella (an actor) saying ‘I may be an exile, but next to Puigdemont, I’m just a beginner’.

Gibraltar:

‘The Government of Spain and the United Kingdom are considering sharing the use of Gibraltar airport by bringing one of their terminals onto Spanish soil. This is one of the solutions being considered for the future management of the airport, which is part of the list of small and large conflicts that cloud the relationship between the Rock and Spain...’. This time, negotiations regarding the airport are bilateral, without the participation of the Gibraltarian Government. More at El Español here.

Courts:

Spain is free and no one is pursued for what they think... or are they? Vice considers the freedom of expression and legal censorship in Spain.

The PP and PSOE are against ‘the de-politicisation of Justice’, says El Mundo. ‘...the political parties have held informal meetings in Congress as part of the subcommittee working on a State pact for justice reform. The last one was this past Monday. These meetings have demonstrated the lack of consensus to depoliticize the governing body of the Spanish Judicial Branch. Parliamentary sources reveal that the PP and PSOE refuse to allow 12 members of the 20-member General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) to be elected directly by the judges and not by Congress and the Senate, as they are now...’.

‘Israel's largest money laundering ringleaders arrested in Spain. These are the Ben-David brothers, related to an alleged $180 million money laundering plot. The National High Court will decide on their possible extradition.’ Headline at El Español here.

Brexit:

From El País in English: ‘Spain’s regions concerned about impact of a hard Brexit. A new report outlines the concerns of around 40 European regions, including eight Spanish ones’. For Valencia, ‘...the sectors most affected will be agriculture, trade, tourism, health, education and social sectors...’. For Andalucía: ‘...the United Kingdom’s new status will affect foreign investment, agriculture, trade but most importantly the region’s relationship with Gibraltar...’, and the Balearics: ‘...main areas of concern are the economy in general and more specifically tourism, property investment and boating activities...’.

From The Guardian: ‘A group of UK nationals living in the Netherlands went to court on Wednesday to challenge the right of the British government and the European commission to negotiate away their rights as EU citizens in the Brexit talks. The claimants argue that the rights of UK citizens are independent of the country’s EU membership...’. The court should take around six weeks to answer.

From The Express: ‘Pound euro exchange rate update: Sterling has broken out and will rocket in 2018. The days of the pound’s Brexit slump has turned, leading to a former Treasury insider to proclaim sterling has “broken out” and will rocket in 2018’. (!!)

Media:

How many copies of newspapers are sold in each autonomous region? The OJD figures, by community (plus the three most popular dailies), are here.

Women in the national RTVE are paid an average of 4,000€ per annum less than their male counterparts, says VerTele here.

‘The public globally want unbiased news coverage, but are divided on whether their news media deliver. Deep political divides in many nations on satisfaction with news media; greatest is in the U.S.’. Spain’s score is 33% consider our news media is doing well on its reporting. Article from the Pew Research Centre here.

Ecology:

The Balearic Government will be banning one-use coffee capsules from 2020 says the Cadena Ser here.

Various:

In an article on the safety of Spaniards abroad, we read that there are 2,406,611 Spaniards living abroad, a figure which is growing each year by 4.4%.

The Courts have ruled that tráfico can’t fine you, or take points off your driving licence, unless they can prove that it was you driving (and not your mysterious friend Jacques). Good news from El Español here (See, we saved the price of your subscription already!)

Facua, the consumers group, has been warned by the Junta de Andalucía to be careful of its language, and to use ‘non-sexist terms’ as necessary, such as ‘personas consumidoras’ rather than ‘consumidores’, ‘personas usuarias’ rather than ‘usuarios’ which are masculine generic words. The indignant consumers group will lose funding if it doesn’t put up its, er, stockings. More here.

The new tourism web-page for the city of Santander has been translated by, uh, Google. Much mirth from all the (generally non-English speaking) opposition parties there. You know – the ‘casco historico’ is rendered in English ‘the motorcycle helmet of the city’ (etc). The page has apparently been fixed (here), but the point is once again made – why not buy a foreigner a beer and say ‘excuse me, is this correct English?’ El Diario has the story here.

Jellyfish (‘medusas’) are invading the beaches of Mallorca as a result of recent storms. Images of the aquatic creatures, normally found in the Atlantic Ocean, Indian and Pacific Oceans, were posted on social media showing them at Port de Soller on the west coast... More at The Olive Press here.

Why are homes so cold on the Costa del Sol, asks Sur in English here.

The saddest thing you’ll read this week. From Spanish Shilling here.

From Piccavey, Molly’s ‘Expat life in Spain, my survival guide and everyday tips’.

See Spain:

The Hotel Alfonso IX in Sarria (Lugo), lists the Castle Route in Galicia here.

From International Living: ‘Madrid, Europe’s most wonderful cultural gem’.

Finally:

Chick Corea plays ‘Spain’. Here on YouTube.

Business over Tapas Subscription January! Our thanks to all who have contributed.

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