This tragic and ill-considered shambles currently going on in the UK is going to hurt that country far more than it possibly could the rest of the EU. ‘We shall break the law, but only a little bit’ says the Northern Ireland secretary to the House of Commons as the Government passes the Internal Market Bill, a bill intended to break not only a law but also a treaty. Another front that concerns the EU is the possible opt-out from the Human Rights Act, which could prevent many migrants and asylum seekers from using the legislation to avoid summary deportation from the UK.
One rogue state will not bring down the EU, as some Brexiteers hope, but neither will it be allowed by Brussels to get away scot free. And an easy target raises its worried head in Marbella, in Benidorm and in Mojácar…
As The Irish Times notes, ‘The EU keeps calm and carries on as the UK wrestles with itself’. The no-deal possibility has become pretty much accepted across Europe as almost certain.
A reader sends us this remarkable item from The Telegraph (here): ‘Britain needs to stand up for its rights and not bow to the Brussels bully boys. While we have been playing cricket with a straight bat internationally, others have been playing dodgeball’. On the other side, an editorial in The Huff Post asks ‘Just WTF Does Boris Johnson Think He’s Doing?’, adding ‘…the wider issue is just what damage is he doing to his own reputation, to that of his MPs, his party and his country in the process?’.
All this despite a Tory former cabinet minister warning of "incalculable damage to our reputation all around the world".
All of which must be considered as a great and inexplicable tragedy and only that – if it didn’t have the potential to once again put the everyday lives of many Brits living in the EU-27 at risk.
So far, the EU has confirmed that the EU will stand by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, which include a prohibition on the suspension of the citizens' rights parts as a result of the other party being found to have breached the WA (in whatever way). So far.
El Confidencial echoes the fatalism and indifference of the Europeans: ‘From erroneous beliefs to fatal miscalculations: Brexit enters the impasse. The UK has misjudged its cards and has embarked on a move that could end in a no-deal Brexit. Far from getting attention, indifference has deepened’. The British Brexit champions ‘never learn from their errors’ says the article.
But what of the Brits living (in some mild concern) in Spain? The Local (sometimes Paywall) quoting British in Europe says (or here, or original pdf here): 'All certainty has vanished' for British citizens living in Europe’. An excerpt: ‘…In January 2020 we finally hoped that the signature and the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement meant that our worst fears would not be realised and that we would at least salvage enough of our rights to live our lives broadly as before and have relative certainty about what those rights would be.
We knew that implementation would be challenging in all 30 EU and EEA countries plus Switzerland but hoped that with good faith on both sides most of us would finally have some peace of mind about our futures by the end of 2021 at the latest…’.
But, you know, we never were all that important to either side: a point worth remembering.
An excellent article from Wolf Street on squatting here contains this interesting paragraph: ‘…After the crisis, many social housing projects were sold off to international funds belonging to Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. As a result, rented social housing, which normally offers cheaper rents, now makes up just 2% of all residential property in Spain, down from 3.5% in 2005. That compares to 30% in the Netherlands, 24% in Austria, 21% in Denmark and 17% in the UK and France…’.
VozPópuli has some encouraging news for home-owners faced with squatters: New rules from ‘The State Attorney General's Office has issued an instruction to all representatives of the public prosecutor in Spain to apply in relation to the occupation of homes. The main novelty is that it orders the prosecutors to ask the judge to expel as a precautionary measure people who commit a crime of breaking and entering at the beginning of the process…’. Now the home-owner can seek help from the police to remove the okupas in the case of trespass (allanamiento) of a private home – as opposed to entry into an abandoned or empty building (ursupación).
From The Corner here: ‘The airports in the Aena network closed August with 8,951,753 passengers, 69.6% fewer than in the same month last year, along with 142,962 aircraft movements, 39.1% fewer than in August 2019, and 59,819 tons of freight, 28.6% lower…’.
Barcelona hotels have gone from 58,000 tourists per day to just 3,200 says the headline at Hosteltur here. The local hotel guild says that Barcelona is short in the past six months of some 850 million euros.
Have you noticed that the number of banks is going down? Many years ago, there were sixty of them in Spain (plus a number of cajas de ahorros), now we are down to just a handful, and, says El Economista, it’s not over yet. ‘The plan is to end up with around five (or less) different banking entities’, says the article.
From The Corner here ‘A Brief Chronicle of Spain: A Bad Summer. A Worse Autumn?’. The article notes ‘…Spain was one of the fastest growing countries in Europe, now we are at the bottom of the pile. In conclusion, the summer has being worse than expected and the autumn is expected to be even more complicated. And not only because of the economic data but also because of the current shortcomings of the political system. Would it be too much to ask for politicians to be able to reach some sort of consensus to overcome the most difficult time we have had since the Civil War in1936...?’.
El Economista reckons that the Spanish economy won’t recover its pre-pandemic levels of activity until 2023. Here’s El País in English on the economy: ‘The Bank of Spain downgrades its economic forecast and warns of a slower recovery. According to the central lender, GDP will fall between 10.5% and 12.6% this year as a result of the coronavirus crisis’. However: ‘…Under the two scenarios considered by the Bank of Spain, in 2021 the economy could rebound either by 7.3% in the better situation, or by 4.1% in a scenario of more intense coronavirus outbreaks in the short term…’.
Magnet considers the savings from teletrabajo – working from home – during the worst times of the lockdown, when 30% of Spanish workers practiced teleworking. This includes the time spent/lost in commuting, figured at over an hour daily.
A useful guide from La Información here: ‘Personal income tax calculation: in which communities do you pay more for this tax? El Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas (IRPF) is the result of joint taxation between the State and the autonomous communities’.
The unreturned portion of public aid to the banks between 2008 and 2019 in Spain, it says here, was much higher than generally reported, at 80,040 million euros.
Putting the country into the correct frame of mind for his much heralded (if still undated) moción de censura, Santiago Abascal told reporters that the current government is the worst that Spain has endured in the past eighty (!) years. ElDiario.es with video here.
In the Wednesday parliamentary debate, Pedro Sánchez reproached Pablo Casado with "…all of Spain knows that your party covered up a crime with another crime", in reference to the Operación Kitchen scandal (see ‘Corruption’ below). Item from La Vanguardia here.
The PSOE has joined the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos in voting down a proposal from Unidas Podemos that the CIS – the semi-official pollster – should ask the public as to whether they would prefer a monarchy or a republic.
‘Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on Thursday 10th September that a no-deal Brexit would be much more damaging for Spain and Britain, including the situation for the British territory of Gibraltar, than reaching a deal on future UK-EU relations. In an interview with Catalan public radio, she called the possibility of a no-deal Brexit an irresponsibility", but added that Spain had been preparing for that potential scenario’. From USNews here.
Gibraltar to join the Schengen Area? ‘…Currently, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain are in negotiations to, among other issues, ensure that the lives of those 15,000 citizens who cross the frontier daily are affected as little as possible by Brexit. And, as sources have explained to El Confidencial, the Spanish Government's main objective is to achieve the formula of "shared responsibility", by which Madrid would become a kind of link between the Rock and the EU, representing Gibraltar in Brussels to defend her interests in all programs in which she may participate…’. The item is here.
‘The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, has insisted that the United Kingdom abide by and execute the terms of the 'Brexit' agreed with the European Union. "The agreements are to be fulfilled," he told the British leader, Boris Johnson, in his appearance along with six other European heads of government and state during the recent EU Summit of Southern European Countries…’. More at 20 Minutos here.
‘‘A threat to democracy’: how Europe’s media reacted to the UK’s plan to renege on the Brexit deal. From France to Germany, Spain to the Netherlands, Europe’s media are united in condemnation of Boris Johnson’. From The Guardian here. “In the space of four short years, the UK has grown from a prominent and respected member of the European Union to an isolated state, angry with its allies and closest trading neighbours – and watched by the world with disbelieving eyes,” said France’s Libération here.
‘…The enterprise is of no benefit to the UK, and that is one of the reasons why the European Union maintains a steady hand and a cool head. The operation is strange because it does not get anything in return. On the one hand, London has gone too far, broken the principle of negotiating in good faith and done irreversible damage to the talks, so it cannot expect the EU to give in on anything. Furthermore, Boris Johnson has made the mistake of pressing the key that has ensured the unity of the Twenty-seven throughout the process, which has been the peace process in Ireland…’. El Confidencial here.
From InfoLibre here: ‘The emergency physicians in Madrid warn that the Urgencias is once again on the verge of saturation. "We have to attend to all kinds of patients, both those with Covid-19 and the rest," says a spokesman for the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine. He also warned that the level of contagion to medical staff registered in the first wave of the pandemic cannot be tolerated a second time around’. El Mundo (firewall) says that Madrid is preparing to reopen the Ifema temporary hospital again.
La Sexta (with video) brings us more on the current PP scandal. The ex-Nº 2 in the previous Ministry of the Interior led by Jorge Fernández Díaz, Francisco Martínez, says he is going 'to spill the beans' on Operación Kitchen.
From La Razón (with video) here: ‘Pablo Casado, on the Operación Kitchen: “I am not going to forgive a single one. Whoever does it will pay for it". The leader of PP asks for the same standard for all and refers to the ERE Case or the Caso Filesa that affected the PSOE’. BoT has had recourse in the past to refer to that popular political cry ‘y tú más’. Vox meanwhile, says that the news about Operación Kitchen ‘is extremely serious’ (ABC here).
On the subject of those who quietly gave money to the PP, La Información begins its article here with: ‘The Case of the Bárcenas Papers has been in the National High Court for over ten years now. The magistrate Pablo Ruz closed the procedure in 2015 but the revelations of Francisco Correa in one of the trials of the Gürtel Plot led the instructor José de la Mata to reopen the case on the alleged ‘party b account'. Now, and after proving the existence of a secretive police operation to steal from (ex-party treasurer) Luis Bárcenas the material he held that allegedly put the party under threat, the judge now concerns himself into fresh investigations based on the testimonies of donors and former party leaders who credited the existence of this system which operated at least during the nineties and up to 2008.
"I help the party in general so that it helps me in general, in general ... that they treat me well," a businessman and owner of the construction company Degremont called Rafael Palencia famously said on this issue back in 2008.
‘Why is Operacíon Kitchen so serious for democracy? The jurists analyze the creation of this para-police network orchestrated by the PP to obstruct judicial investigations: "This is a purely criminal action in the heart of the State".’ El Huff Post opinion here.
An interesting interview from last October is at elDiario.es here. Have things changed? Santiago Torres (Wiki), the ex-judge (now a lawyer) who imprisoned the maverick mayor of Marbella Jesús Gil: "The judicial machinery is planned so that it does not work, much beyond banging-up ordinary pick-pockets and the like". (Thanks to DP).
The great big pad of Pablo Iglesias contrasted with the delightful home of Santiago Abascal. How the media sees it. ‘The vulgar home of El Coletas (Mr Ponytail) vs. the spectacular chalet decorated with taste of Abascal": the nuance of the right-wing media when talking about the houses of Iglesias and Abascal’. Público has a laugh at the contrast as the press (although probably not Público) are invited by Mrs Abascal (Lidia Bedman) to look around the charming million euro Madrid home of the Vox leader.
The EWN has now taken to asking questions on all its Facebook news posts. Shouldn’t it be answering them instead?
Talgo has presented a train run from a hydrogen fuel cell, which generates electrical energy for propulsion. This completely emission-free train is quiet and emits only water vapour and condensation water. The hydrogen train is currently under tests in Extremadura and will hopefully enter into service next year. Xataca has the story here.
A grim list of statistics from La Vanguardia here: ‘In Spain, 4.38 million women over 16 years of age have suffered physical violence (21.5%) and 2.8 million sexual violence (13.7%) at some point in their life, according to the Macro-survey on Violence against Women 2019. Furthermore, 6.5% of women have suffered sexual violence outside of the couple, 2.2% have been raped, 13.4% have been subjected to physical violence and 40.4% have been victims of sexual harassment, according to this macro-survey prepared by the
Government Delegation against Gender Violence based on 9,568 random interviews…’.
Público introduces us to Násara iahdih Said here. ‘The Saharawi feminist who fights against the Islamic patriarchy: "It is a great risk to demand my rights" she says. Questioning the subordinate role of women in Islamic society has not been an easy task for Násara, who has had to face difficult situations due to her activism’.
The USA is considering moving its entire ‘Africa Command’ to the US base in Rota, Cádiz.
Vox now has its own ‘think tank’ called La Fundación Disenso led by Jorge Martín Frías. La Vanguardia says that Santiago Abascal travelled to the USA last February to study some Republican think tanks or ‘laboratorios de ideas’ to help him create his new policy institute.
From El Español here: ‘Who’da thought it? There was a time when Vox was nothing more than a little fantasy that wouldn’t catch on. Four cats and a dog went to the rallies and Santiago Abascal, who had already failed in private business, would climb onto the street benches, megaphone in hand, futilely trying to get his message through. But they weren’t listening and practically nobody voted for him and his party. They didn't even have the money to pay the bill for those journalists they invited to lunch to gain sympathy. And yet, six years after its founding, Vox is now the political party that earns the most money, the one that receives more private donations than all the others put together…’. The headline is ‘The party receives more in donations than the PSOE, PP and UP combined’.
‘Borís I, Andorra’s only (and short-lived) king: bounced checks, invented titles and became an enthusiastic Nazi. In 1934 Andorra had a king. His name was Boris Mikhailovich Skosyrev (Wiki) and he was a mixture of a scammer and a liar who told his story, sometimes real and sometimes invented, through half of Europe. Público has his story here.
Six of Spain’s most beautiful coins are presented at Colemone, a coin-collector’s page here.
From 'Beyond Spain's Tourist Villa Belt'. The Times July 20 1963 is here. An excerpt. '...This is Mojácar, of Moorish origin, whose flat-roofed whitewashed houses had fallen into a state of almost derelict disrepair and depopulation, but has been "rescued" by an influx of foreigners whose villa-building (of necessity in the local style) has provided work. Above the tiny plaza, cobbled lanes so narrow that one can almost touch both sides form a maze through houses, some solid, some just heaps of rubble - which is sorted over and used again for building. Two newly built hotels mark Mojácar's bid for a running in the tourist stakes...'.
‘The Lagunas de Ruidera have been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, and appear before the visitor's eyes as an oasis of water and plants in the heart of La Mancha's arid plains. Wetlands with extraordinary flora and fauna, along with unforgettable dawns and dusks await those who decide to visit this unique site…’. Item from Eye on Spain here.
From Fascinating Spain here: ‘Spain’s Chinese Great Wall in Finestres (Huesca): one of the most curious geological formations’. It’s certainly odd.
Historiae brings us ‘Gothic Art in Spain’ here.
May be a comment on the tourism side is of interest
Coming back home 03.09. from holidays outside Spain in August – the plane I was on had 151 empty seats
All the best from