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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 293)

Business over Tapas (Nº 293)

  • 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

jueves 07 de marzo de 2019, 18:07h

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Editorial:

El País in English is just one of many sources that announces triumphantly that ‘Spain plans to grant residency to 400,000 Britons if there is a Hard Brexit’, and, like most of the Britons resident in Spain, we at Business over Tapas are very grateful for this. It is indeed a fine thing when the Spanish authorities appear to care for us more than the British ones do.

There’s a catch though.

It comes in the second headline: ‘The contingency plan underscores that concessions will depend on securing similar treatment for Spaniards living and working in the UK’.

Will the UK allow the Europeans to continue living and working in the UK, much as before? Well, no. That was part of the thrust of the Brexit – to make it difficult, uncomfortable and even threatening for Europeans and other foreigners to stay in the United Kingdom (unless, of course, they were very wealthy).

If the British do go with a Hard Brexit in a few short weeks from now, and they do react against the Spaniards living there – said to be around 150,000 – then even if the Spanish authorities were feeling lenient towards the Britons living in this wonderful country, who knows what the next Government (elections in April) will think and, furthermore, what will the Spaniards themselves have to say as their white-faced friends and relatives begin to arrive back at the Madrid and Barcelona airports?

Housing:

A useful piece from The Leader to help solve certain property issues: ‘Spanish building licences are notoriously difficult; painstakingly slow to obtain and you can never be sure if they might be rejected. Here are five common situations that can only be resolved using a simple Certificate of Antiquity/Retrospective Licence...’.

From Reuters comes: ‘The Spanish government on Friday adopted a decree that aims to cap residential rent rises within the term of a contract ahead of a general election in April...’. The article notes ‘...Under the decree, tenants would be entitled to stay in a flat for a minimum of five years, instead of the current three, and for seven years if the owner is a company. The new bill could hurt institutional investors such as Blackstone, which currently holds the biggest home rental platform in Spain with 20,000 flats under management...’.

El País explains the new rules for renters and landlords here. Naturally, Blackstone and other landlords are not happy, as 20 Minutos says in its title: ‘The real estate sector reacts unanimously to the royal decree: "The situation will get worse"’.

The Junta de Andalucía announces that they are going to allow irregular houses on "asentamientos urbanísticos" (those awaiting legalisation via a town plan) to have access to an AFO thus allowing homeowners access services and to register their homes at the Land Registry. More on this at Europa Press here (thanks to AUAN for this).

Around 60,000 property evictions were held in 2018 across Spain says El Independiente here.

People are moving inexorably to the cities. By 2035, says ElDiario.es, 33% of Spaniards are expected to be living in the country’s five largest cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Zaragoza). Currently, 80% of citizens live in major urban areas.

From Thrive Global comes: ‘Six reasons why living in Andalucía is good for the soul

With long hot summers, mild winters and gastronomic delights that reflect its history, what’s not to love about life in Andalucía?’

Tourism:

From El Independiente comes: ‘The arrival of foreign tourists in Spain seems to have reached its upper limit. After five consecutive years of a real boom, in 2018 the number of international travellers grew by only 1.1%, far from the very strong increases of previous years, but above the forecast of the sector and the government that anticipated a total stagnation. In the end, despite the slowdown, Spain set a new record for tourist arrivals, reaching 82.77 million visitors...’. Tourism, says the article, brought 62,500 million euros to Spain last year.

A new travel agency has opened in Spain: National Geographic Expeditions will offer cruises and group trips to special destinations. HostelTur reports here.

Finance:

From Sur in English comes ‘Regional president Juanma Moreno announced on Wednesday that the discounted 60-euro monthly rate for new 'autónomos' (self-employed) will be extended for the first two years. Introduced under Mariano Rajoy's premiership, the initiative initially applied for the first 12 months but will be extended across Andalucía once approved by the Junta de Andalucía next week. Moreno said his administration will be an "ally" of the self-employed, stressing further reductions for women and young people in rural areas’.

The banks are doing well. According to Público here, ‘...the six main Spanish banking groups (Santander, BBVA, Caixabank, Bankia, Sabadell and Bankinter) pocketed 27,959.1 million euros in commissions in 2018, according to the financial information recently submitted by each of them to the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV). That’s 32.9% more than the figure recorded in 2013, the year in which the commissions were reported to stand at 21,036 million euros...’.

‘Banks will be forced to cap current account commission or ‘admin charges’ to just €3 a month by March 25 in a welcome move introduced this week by Spain’s government. Depending upon where you bank, charges can vary from €1.50 to over €12 a month on each and every account, meaning it is not worthwhile setting up separate ones for bills, holidays, car expenses and so on. Even at €3 a month, banks will still be netting €36 per year per account, but with the high-street finance industry being forced more and more to become competitive and offer customers good reasons to stay, some are opting to reduce or even axe commission altogether...’. Item from Think Spain here.

Politics:

General elections: April 28th. European, local and (most) regional elections: May 26th.

The main pollster in Spain is the CIS, or as the right-wing press calls it, ‘Tezanos’ CIS’ (the company is run by a leftist sympathiser called José Félix Tezanos). El Español looks at the data (‘PSOE at 33% - more than PP and Ciudadanos combined’). El País has the graphic here.

The PP in campaign: ‘Pablo Casado’s 'hard core' doesn't want Rajoy supporters to speak at campaign rallies. The PP leadership has sent a message that Rajoy's supporters should not participate actively in the election campaign. "It's better to avoid them", they say from party headquarters in Madrid to their candidates’. VozPópuli reports here.

VozPópuli looks at the rise and fall of Podemos here.

Is the media ‘boycotting’ Podemos? The party thinks so, and as Iglesias continues at home with his twins, El Español partially agrees here.

Podemos also has some peculiar ideas. The party is asking Arturo Pérez Reverte to resign his place in la Real Academia Española to allow a woman to substitute him. They appear to have picked on Pérez Reverte as he is a trenchant blogger and manly author. The RAE is the agency that decides on the nuances of the Spanish language and definitions. It famously doesn’t approve of feminist constructions outside of official usage (miembro and miembra etc). The story is at El Español here.

Pablo Iglesias will finally return to front-line politics (after his time-off with his twins) on March 23rd with a public meeting in Madrid. Unfortunately, the poster advertising his presence says ‘Vuelve’, or ‘He’s back – the two middle letters of Vuelve being in a different shade of purple. That’s right – the dreaded ‘he’ word. Of such is politics and manipulation made... El País has the story here. Iglesias has apologised for the poster, saying he will be ‘...con vosotras y vosotros’.

‘Soraya Rodríguez, a former parliamentary spokesperson for the Socialist Party, has left the PSOE. One of the critical voices against the new leadership of the party says that the reason for such a decision is none other than her profound disagreement with the party's leadership in relation to its policy towards Catalonian independence’. El Mundo reports.

ElDiario.es looks at those who wrap themselves in the Spanish flag: ‘the Re-degeneration of the Right’.

Another party registering to appear in the forthcoming General Elections are the even-farther-right ‘neo-Nazi’ Hogar Social, says ElDiario.es here.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to vote with an ‘absentee ballot’ in Spanish elections from outside. Eldiario.es talks of a ‘collapse’ in the London consulate (thanks to Brexit issues) and the non-opening of the planned Manchester consulate here. El País also considers the problems for Spaniards, with two polling days just one month apart, and two separate registrations in the consulates around the world. In the last elections, only 6.3% of Spaniards abroad successfully voted.

Politico has teamed up with El País to provide election updates on Spain here. There is lots of interesting material, including an explanation of the attraction of Vox, plus political interviews and the presentation of candidates. In English (y en castellano).

A vulgar front-page cartoon from El Jueves accurately (?) sums up the women’s protests for this Thursday across Spain on the Día Internacional de la Mujer 2019.

Catalonia:

From Guy Hedgecoe’s blog Adults in the Room here: ‘It’s still early days in the Supreme Court trial of 12 Catalan leaders for their role in the 2017 failed independence bid. But, with all the defendants having given an initial testimony and several of the highest profile witnesses having taken the stand, certain themes are emerging...’

Valencia:

The President of the Valencian Community has ordered the regional elections to be held on the same day as the general elections – April 28th. El Mundo reports here.

Gibraltar:

From El Mundo we read: ‘Spain and the United Kingdom sign the first international treaty on Gibraltar since the Treaty of Utrecht. The agreement deals with taxation, the protection of financial interests and combating fraud and tax evasion in relation to Gibraltar’.

From The Gibraltar Chronicle here: ‘The UK and Spain yesterday signed a tax treaty for Gibraltar and Spain in a landmark development that will put an end to the “irritating myths” of Gibraltar as an uncooperative and opaque tax jurisdiction. The agreement seeks to improve co-operation in the field of taxation and assist in the resolution of disputes as to the proper tax residence of companies and individuals based in Gibraltar and Spain. The treaty also provides for Gibraltar to keep EU-equivalent legislation after Brexit on matters related to transparency, administrative cooperation, harmful tax practices and Anti-Money Laundering...’.

Corruption:

Calling it ‘Spain’s Watergate’, The Guardian looks in depth at the Gürtel Case here.

Brexit:

Video here of Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell saying that hundreds of thousands of British people living in his country will have their rights protected under a no-deal Brexit.

A press release from Anne Hernández at Brexpats in Spain (here)

I sent this to Mrs May earlier (after I had calmed down somewhat!) -

Dear Prime Minister

We do not anticipate a reply but we do feel compelled to write to you to bring to your attention the grief and potential hardship Brexit is bringing to our 6,500 members. Some of our elderly members are worried sick, to the point of needing medical care. We all came here knowing our rights as members of the EU and the rug is being violently pulled out from under us.

We feel betrayed since many of us weren’t even allowed a vote in the Brexit referendum and feel that others have decided our futures and those of our families.

We are heartened by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ contingency plans for us in the event of a no deal but it is rather shameful that another EU country seems more concerned for our wellbeing that the one we were born in and still hold its passport. We cannot express enough gratitude for his compassion, something that again shamefully seems to be lacking generally in your UK government. And a polite reminder that his proposals have to be agreed by you within 2 months from publishing the Royal Decree.

Are we so out of sight that we are out of your minds? We are 320,000 British nationals here in Spain, almost one third are pensioners who are in receipt of their UK state pension having worked all their lives in the UK to permit them the luxury (yes, it is a pleasure living here among caring friendly locals) of choosing to live out their autumn years here.

We feel abandoned, at the mercy of goodness knows what, and we deserve and need support from our British government. Is that too much to ask for? We are not inanimate bargaining chips in a game to be pushed into a corner or wherever suits your agenda; we are 320,000 human lives, with rights, with feelings and with lives we have carved out and hope to be able to continue with.

Most respectfully

Anne Hernández (President)

Richard Hill (Vice President)

‘Brexit is an 'irresponsible lie peddled by anger-mongers backed by fake news' that has caused Europe's biggest crisis since WWII, rages French President Macron’. This comes from The Daily Mail here. As always with this newspaper, enjoy the comments.

Leave.eu would lose its web address in no-deal Brexit says The Guardian here.

Media:

From El País in English: ‘Who do you trust? We don’t believe the government or the experts, but we do believe anonymous social media posts’. An essay about the perils of believing everything we read on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter (The newspaper notes that it adheres to The Trust Project here).

From ADSLZone, Google explains how the new European copyright laws will affect us.

The most read daily-papers in Spain: 1) Marca, 2) El País and 3) AS. The information comes from Media-tics, who also provide circulation figures for the ‘top ten’ here.

Ecology:

The popular hoax about chem-trails and cloud-seeding is explored by El Español here.

92% of the forest fires started in Cantabria were caused by shepherds and cattle-ranchers and only 0.12% by arsonists, according to a report of the regional government. More here. Around 150 fires were being fought in Cantabria and Asturias in the past few days.

Various:

The ‘Games Lobby’ has met with an alarming number of Spanish politicians says ElDiario.es here. ‘In 2018, members of Cejuego held meetings with 96 Spanish politicians to press for this industry, in an exercise marked by the processing of regulatory changes in several regions and in which, in a context of growing concern about the proliferation of gambling halls, the Government among other things, plans (planned) to approve a regulation of gambling advertising and online gambling at the state level" similar to that of tobacco...’.

A territorial squabble has arisen between Águilas in Murcia and its neighbour Pulpí in Almería over who owns a spit of land with a beach called Playa de los Cocederos. The old maps apparently give it to Águilas, but the courts must now decide. ElDiario.es has the story here.

El Mundo lists the hundred best private, public and religious schools in Spain here.

The Hispano Suiza is back, with an ultra-high-performance electric luxury car here.

The Guardian has 681 wrecks listed here. ‘Spain logs hundreds of shipwrecks that tell story of maritime past. Weather rather than pirates caused the majority of sinkings, says culture ministry team’.

The Olive Press tells how Spanish gypsies are merging with mainstream society after 600 years of persecution here.

83% of Spaniards consider themselves to be citizens of the EU says the Comisión Europea here.

The people who work in the Spanish social security say that it is false to claim that immigrants get paid more by the State. (Obviously). Item from El Confidencial here.

President Barack Obama to be the headline speaker at the WTTC Global Summit in Seville 2nd to 4tth April says the World Travel and Tourism Council here.

See Spain:

From The Guardian: ‘A local’s guide to Seville, Spain: 10 top tips. Cobbled alleys, ancient bars, flamenco and the world’s biggest gothic cathedral are just a few of the Andalusian capital’s attractions’.

Finally:

This video on YouTube is about the influence of the Arabic language on both Spanish and Portuguese.

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