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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (N.º 382)

Business over Tapas (N.º 382)

  • 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

domingo 24 de enero de 2021, 02:40h
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Editorial:

Where do people get their news from? It used to be by reading the national equivalent of The Times of London, where foreign-based reporters wired stories back to the head office via their bureaux located in a number of foreign capitals. Home-news was written from more comfortable and accessible offices or by a few freelance reporters, who sold their ‘stories’ to the newspapers for an agreed sum.

Public opinion was based on these items of news from the august newspapers, sold for a penny by paper-boys and tobacco-shops, or left – ironed in some cases – on the side-table in clubs, barber-shops, railway lounges and hotels.

Now, we get our ‘news’ (it could also be called ‘entertainment’) from the telly, the Internet, the Red Tops (trash and titillation), the often amateur expat press, or other popular sources, full of what Wiki calls ‘inaccurate news and the misrepresentation of individuals and situations’.

News today is often provided by companies, celebrities or political groups as a ‘press release’, offering self-promotion and merchandising which, depending on who owns the news-source, may receive more prominence than otherwise.

In America, says the (right-wing) Pew Research Centre, the largest provider of ‘news’ comes from Facebook, which ‘stands out as a regular source of news for about a third of Americans’!

It is followed by YouTube ‘with 23% of U.S. adults regularly getting news there’. One wonders how many of them had been getting their news from Parler, which was recently closed down by its host Amazon Web Services ‘…as a "last resort" after the platform was deemed to be both "unwilling and unable" to address extremist speech…’. (Newsweek here).

There is no doubt but that many readers search for the news they want to read or to hear. Conservative readers pick up The Telegraph, El Mundo, the ABC, La Razón or they check out El Español or Okdiario online, while lefty readers will choose The Guardian and El País, and they’ll be going online to scope El Huff Post, Público or elDiario.es.

In short – no news-source wants to lose readers by somehow not being in line with their opinions. As we quoted last week in the BoT, ‘…Media firms work backward. They first ask, “How does our target demographic want to understand what’s just unfolded?” Then they pick both the words and the facts that they want to emphasize…’ (TK News here).

Can a news-item change the way we think?

Only if it doesn’t threaten a previously-held belief.

From Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe (1882) comes:

‘…Though never nurtured in the lap

Of luxury, yet I admonish you,

I am an intellectual chap,

And think of things that would astonish you.

I often think it's comical

How Nature always does contrive

That every boy and every gal

That's born into the world alive

Is either a little Liberal

Or else a little Conservative! ’

Housing:

From The Mallorca Daily Bulletin here: ‘With pandemic raging, Spain's real estate firms head online. Spanish property firms have moved online to draw in clients’. One of the problems of ‘static’ newspapers and their unimaginative online adverts is that they don’t ‘show’ the property as they could. If the prospective buyer can’t visit, then he needs a virtual ‘walk-around’.

The Olive Press leads with ‘Property boom time set to return despite Covid-19 pandemic’. It says that over half a million homes are expected to be built in Spain in the next four years.

The Daily Mail says ‘Demand for second homes in Spain soars by nearly 40% in first week of January as Britons in lockdown eye up place in the sun despite Brexit’.

Spanish Property Insight wonders in an interesting article as to who are the ‘other foreign buyers’ which are usually simply lumped together in studies on home-sales.

Indalo Transport, amid an article of self-promotion, offers a look at the ongoing and future issues surrounding the transport of one’s possessions between the UK and the EU.

Tourism:

The British Health Secretary Matt Hancock cautions against booking holidays abroad, suggests break in Cornwall ‘to have a great British summer’ rather than travel overseas’. The item comes from The Guardian here.

Noudiari.es says that ‘The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, says that once 70% of the population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, which he estimates by the end of the summer, Spain will be "progressively" prepared to receive international tourists…’. Until then, says the headline, ‘Spain will not be open to foreign tourists until the end of summer’.

From RT here: ‘UK budget carrier EasyJet’s CEO Johan Lundgren said that bookings for this summer with its holidays arm were up 250 percent on last year. The airline industry is hoping for increased demand when lockdown restrictions are eased. “We know there is pent-up demand – we have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed – and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can,” he told the BBC, adding that EasyJet offers confidence for the post-pandemic travel market…’.

Ten months in, 40% of hotels are unable to re-open and those that are report levels of 20% occupancy says Hosteltur here.

El Mundo (paywall) has a gloomy piece called ‘The Canaries – from ‘tourist boom’ to food lines’. A full version of this item is also available here (!)

Finance:

There is an article by A. Lawyer about the Modelo 720 at Spanish Property Insight here. A comment follows: ‘This seems to be the more or less the annual “bulletin” circulated by tax advisors, gestores etc. about this time every year. They no doubt enjoy some quite handsome fees for preparing the Asset Declarations so it is arguably in their interest to generate some anxiety amongst their clientele. But what is not given adequate treatment is the state of play as regards the case brought against Spain by the European Commission. One, which after years of Spanish stone walling, finally made it onto the docket of the ECJ in late 2019, as I recall. According what was stated about a year ago, the Court of Justice was to render its decision by now, but probably Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in still more delays- even a decade after complaints were made to the EU Parliament and the Commission’. (Source: unattributed, received by e-mail)

From El Economista here ‘Spain's total debt is close to three billion euros for the first time in history and this is how it is distributed:

*The public debt in November stood at 1.3 billion euros

*The private sector (households and companies) accumulate a debt of 1.65 billion euros’.

(NB: ‘Billion’ here used in Continental or ‘long-scale’ meaning. In English or American usage, known as ‘short scale’, it would be ‘a trillion’ Wiki). The article begins: ‘Debt, debt and more debt. Advanced economies are navigating almost unknown waters. The Covid-19 crisis has arrived while many countries still carried heavy loads from the past crisis, which is leading to debt reaching historic levels in almost all sectors of the economy…’.

The Corner says ‘Spain could receive more European Funds in Direct Aid than initially planned’. The reason given is ‘the recent worsening of the Brussels forecasts on the impact of the crisis’.

Much has been written about the current high electric bills charged to Spanish users. Why not drop the tax, they say? The IVA is 21%. Less is said, however, about the profits in the sector. The Partido Popular, in what can only be described as a populist move, is defending their idea of cutting all taxes – ‘down to 0%’ – from the electric bill says El Español here.

La Voz de Galicia says in an opinion piece that ‘The monthly statement from the power company, an indecipherable hieroglyph for most, continues its climb towards the clouds. A single piece of data is enough to corroborate it: the price of the megawatt hour has multiplied by five in ten years. What was twenty euros in 2010 is now more than one hundred euros today. An expert, probably paid by the electricity companies, explains it in four words: "It's the market, mate."

Politics:

2021 is make-or-break for Pablo Casado says El Huff Post with its essay ‘The 365 crucial days of Pablo Casado. The leader of the PP plans to swallow Ciudadanos and shrink Vox’. It begins ‘Pablo Casado will not have it easy this 2021. The leader of the PP has before him a challenge of Herculean dimensions: to become the main alternative to Pedro Sánchez. But to catch that plane that can transport him to La Moncloa, he has to make some stops along the way. The first will be in Catalonia, in the upcoming regional elections. Casado will try to eat up Ciudadanos and leave the far right party of Santiago Abascal in the ditch…’. .

The ABC has a piece (with video) about the Vox opinion that the PSOE and its main ally will break up one day ‘The spokesperson for Vox in the Congress, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, believes that the PSOE and Unidas Podemos will stage a "tremendous" rupture of the government coalition when the elections finally come around and then appearing at the polls as two parties "unconnected and with nothing to do with each other", and then they’ll go back to "tricking citizens as they did before after the November 2019 elections by creating a fresh alliance". No doubt he is right if the results following the probable 2023 general elections prove it to become a necessity…

Of political interest this year are the regional PSOE primaries to be held in mid October with the object, at least from La Moncloa, of getting rid of some of the barones in exchange for new blood (more in tune to the current PSOE identity). Pedro Sánchez’ erstwhile rival for the party Susana Díaz is of course a particular target.

A recent story in Spain was about several socialist mayors who had wangled themselves Covid vaccines. The wretched story came from the rightist sources alone… until the offending politicians were thrown out of the party, and the leftist news-providers had something to say. Then, a conservative mayor from La Nucia in Valencia was found to have gotten the vaccine (together with another from Orihuela and then the Health Secretary for the Murcia Region… and then his wife – Oh dear – he’s now resigned), and suddenly, the right-wing newspapers were changing the subject. A full-list is offered by Newtral here.

Give El Español its due – from its daily news-letter *Mientras Dormias it says ‘We have seen in recent days the tough face of mayors who skip the queue to get the vaccine against Covid-19 and now administrative officials and even a Councillor in Murcia are furtively getting themselves vaccinated. But you also have to have a stony face to demand resignations when the councillors are from the opposite party - Teodoro García Egea, the PP spokesperson, wrote three tweets on the subject – as he tiptoed past discarding resignations from his own side. * [email protected]

Catalonia:

The Catalonian elections are due to be held on February 14tth. As La Vanguardia says, the Generalitat, concerned about the Coronavirus crisis, had announced that they intended to move the election to May 30th, but the Superior Court of Justice for Catalonia has ruled that the plebiscite must be held on the original date – baring emergencies.

Gibraltar:

From BBC News here: ‘Brexit: End to Gibraltar land border prompts joy and trepidation’.

Ceuta, Melilla and the Western Sahara:

From El Confidencial here: Morocco relates its relationship with Spain according to how it follows the US policy towards Western Sahara. Rabat is putting pressure on the Spanish Government to recognize its sovereignty over that territory or, at least, to publicly support, like France, the regional solution it advocates to resolve the conflict’.

Opinion from El Confidencial here: ‘How Morocco suffocates Ceuta and Melilla while the Government lets them die. Politicians and businessmen try to put patches to alleviate the economic suffocation. They should rather urge the Government to demand that Rabat treat them economically in the same way as Spain does with Gibraltar’.

A cultural exchange programme for the ‘forgotten Spanish colony’’ - an interesting essay about the Western Sahara and its people comes from The Local here.

Europe:

From The Express comes this gem: ‘'Boycott Spain!' Britons furious as Brexit sparks rule changes for expats on Costa del Sol. British expats who did not file for residency before the Brexit transition period ended could be forced to give up their lives in the sun on Spain's Costa del Sol. … This news has left the British public furious with one Express.co.uk reader saying Spanish property prices will “collapse in the months to come”…’.

A pro-Brexit reader (one of the ‘Johns’) asks to link this: ‘A devastating indictment of the EU’. The article, perhaps inevitably, comes from something called Briefings for Britain.

The LSE brings us ‘Let’s ditch the stereotypes about Britons who live in the EU’. Someone thinks that we are either ‘…the sun-seeking, patriotic pensioner in Spain or the upper-middle-class English couple renovating a Dordogne property…’. (Heh!)

DutchNews.nl reported last week that ‘The Dutch government has resigned in the wake of the childcare benefit scandal after an official report said ministers, civil servants, parliament and even judges had a role in the affair, which left parents powerless to fight back when accused of fraud…’. Contrainformación (proudly) notes that the collapse of the Netherland government was down to the efforts of a Spaniard who works there: ‘Eva González, the Spanish lawyer who uncovered the biggest political scandal in the Netherlands of the decade. The scandal broke out in the Dutch Parliament thanks to the perseverance of this Cáceres-born lawyer’.

The machinations of the ECB to keep things in the air are at Wolf Street here.

The Coronavirus:

Since New Year’s Eve, some 3,336 people – an average of over 175 people daily – have died of Covid-19 says El Español on Wednesday here.

RTVE (with useful coronavirus coverage) says ‘The Valencian Community decrees the total closure of the hotel business and Navarra will not allow consumption inside’. Several autonomies meanwhile are pushing to lower the regional curfew from 10.00pm to 8.00pm – while the Government insists on its own, milder, restrictions. Check local news for details –which change rapidly as infection rates rise and fall.

‘Hospitals and health centres, on red alert: "ICU patients will not decrease until the summer". Intensive care professionals regret that the rate of occupation in ICU is set by politicians and they are thrown into a vicious circle: several autonomous communities paralyze operations due to the saturation of their services’. elDiario.es reports here.

An important item from VozPópuli here: ‘Spain will not make distinctions. Any person residing in Spanish territory will receive the coronavirus vaccine. This is confirmed by official sources from the Ministry of Health to Vozpópuli. In this way, every immigrant residing in the country will be vaccinated. This includes all those who are not affiliated with social security, those who are in an irregular situation and the homeless’.

A Spanish vaccine against Corona-19 will be ready by the end of 2022 says 20 Minutos here.

The first person to receive the vaccine in Spain has now received her second dose.

‘Spain's over 70s will start being vaccinated in March - if there are enough doses. The Ministry of Health said that the country received 41 per cent fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine this Monday than the three previous consignments’. Item from Sur in English here.

A Brexiteer sends us this: ‘Britain's nimble vaccine taskforce puts EU bureaucracy to shame – and shows how Brexit can succeed. Britain was successful in securing jabs because we could pursue the interests of one country, not 28’. (The Telegraph, paywall).

Courts:

A defence lawyer for Cristina Cifuentes (ex-president of the Madrid Region) proves to be an interesting choice, as VozPópuli says here: ‘The defence of Cifuentes employs as a judicial expert a former Fuerza Nueva militant called Luis Enrique Hellín Moro, who was sentenced to 43 years in prison in 1982 for the murder of a young woman called Yolanda González’.

From BBC News here: ‘José Manuel Villarejo: The rise and fall of the Spanish state's secret fixer’.

ECD has ‘Luis Bárcenas changes his defence strategy: he will use the media to denounce the corruption of the PP. He has given the green light to his new lawyer to negotiate with the Prosecutor's Office and obtain in return reductions in the sentences in the upcoming trials’.

‘The former Spanish king's ex-lover says she was threatened by spy chief. Corinna Larsen tells court ‘chilling’ warning to her and her children came on the orders of King Juan Carlos’. The headline comes from The Guardian here.

Media:

El Gol Digital finds the money behind Okdiario here.

Ecology:

elDiario.es carries a depressing photo of Madrid, covered by una boina – a cap of pollution. They have an explanation too. The ecologists say that ‘it could have been a lot worse’.

Ikea will launch Home Solar, its solar panel service for Spain and Portugal in the spring. Buyers will not have to do any self-installation as Contigo Energía will be in charge of the installation and management of these systems for rooftops. Without giving out any more details for the moment, the Swedish company claims that it will be an affordable offer that facilitates access to self-consumption "for the majority", in addition to being a "simple" option for home-owners…’. The item comes from Nius here. A useful addition – the city of Valencia will reduce the IBI house-tax for 10 years to those who install solar panels says Expansión here.

Various:

Denialists are calling "all of Europe" to participate in a march-concert in Madrid against the health measures for Covid-19. A denial group called "Humanos Conscientes y Libres" calls for a protest march and concert "for our rights and for life" on the 23rd in Madrid'.

El Español brings us the sad story of the three Guardia Civil who have been for the last six months in Abu Dhabi with the ex-King Juan Carlos. Well paid, yes, but no holidays.

From La Vanguardia here: ‘Young Spaniards believe that they will live better than their parents, but in another country. Boys and girls aged 15 to 29 are critical of the value of friendship, committed to social causes and sceptical of their political representatives’. The major survey of the youth of today includes a useful graphic.

The slightly breathless cyber-news La Última Hora brings us some tips from Telecinco: ‘The Mediaset chain with investors from the electricity oligopoly suggest ways to reduce the monthly bill: close the fridge and turn off the light when leaving. The television channel of the Mediaset group has published an article where it aims to give guidelines to save on the electricity bill after the thunderous rise in the first days of the year, which, according to FACUA, already reaches 41%’.

‘The power companies: the golden retirement from politics’. El Salto Diario says ‘Three presidents, more than twenty ministers and several dozen secretaries of state have gone from creating the rules of the electricity market to collecting millionaire salaries on the boards of directors of the main companies in the sector’. It’s the ‘revolving doors syndrome’ which blights Spanish politics.

More comes from the shanty-town of La Cañada Real – with a clutch of photos from elDiario.es here.

The Local has ‘Twelve very good reasons to be happy you live in Spain’.

After the Benidorm bullring stopped hosting events due to structural problems two years ago, the old plaza de toros is to be converted into a library and civic centre says Información here.

El Periodico Extemadura introduces the reader to a bridge which should be honourably retired from public service. The 2,000 year old Roman bridge (from the days of Emperor Trajan) which crosses the River Tagus at Alcantara, which is still used by traffic to this day, is to be given a rest as the regional government announces a new construction a short way upstream.

‘The WWI British spy who lived over ancient treasure on a Spanish islet. Hugh Borthwick, the Scot who owned the outcrop of Fraile (Águilas, Murcia) in the 1910s, ignored the Roman and Islamic vestiges at his feet: he was too busy keeping his eye on passing German warships’. The item comes from El País in English here.

Colin Davies has a useful link on his blog, for the diminutivos, er, or hypocoristics, that all Spanish first-names enjoy.

Some trouble with a local pest called The Night Stalker at Eye on Spain here.

The White House has recovered its Spanish-language web-version (after four years without).

The splendid Celtas Cortos have a new song out this Wednesday: ‘Adiós Presidente’.

See Spain:

(More places we probably can’t visit for a while yet to come. Why not make a note of them for later, or enjoy now a moment of cyber-tourism).

Eye on Spain brings us ‘The Lover’s Bench’ at the Parque de la Alameda in Santiago de Compostela.

In Madrid, there are The Royal Kitchens over at the Palace which offer regular tours. We read that ‘…If you do manage to go, this is no ordinary visit: these are the oldest well-preserved kitchens of all the royal palaces in Europe…’. Item from Eye on Spain here.

‘The Natural Park of the Volcanic Zone of La Garrotxa is a curious environment that dominates part of the province of Gerona. Divided into eleven different municipalities, the space allows you to contemplate and tour dozens of volcanoes resulting from eruptions that began 700,000 years ago to others which are just 8,000 years old. Among them there are spectacular cones, which during the passing of the ages have ended up covered by a green blanket. Thus, upholstered, one of the most spectacular and perfect of them all appears: that of Santa Margarida. But it's not just this silhouette that stands out. In the middle of its wide crater is the hermitage of the same name. Wow!...’. España Fascinante has the story here.

From Molly’s Piccavey here: ‘Baeza – What to see and where to eat in Jaén Province’

‘Consuegra: mills, saffron and tradition in Toledo. Today we tell you about the essential visits you have to do while in Consuegra, a destination famous for its dozen of windmills and its beautiful castle’. A travel article from Público here.

Finally:

This saeta makes one’s hair stand on end. Diana Navarro with El Transito (Salamanca 05) on YouTube here.

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