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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (nº 413)

Business over Tapas (nº 413)

  • 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

viernes 17 de septiembre de 2021, 02:22h

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Editorial:

The scandal of the high prices on the electric bill has finally burst.

The Government has now lost patience with the power and gas companies (Thursday’s record to hit 188 euros/MWh) and intends to reduce by law the profits of las eléctricas. The electric bill for the consumer should fall by 20 to 30% by the end of the year. According to the National Statistics Institute, consumers’ electricity bills grew 34.9% year-on-year (August). The profit to the companies will therefore be squeezed by an estimated 2,600 million euros. Madrid has the support from Brussels to implement controls on the monthly bills. The electric companies threaten to switch off nuclear power in response. We read that there are no plans to nationalise the power companies, however. President Sánchez tells the power companies that he will ‘always put the interest of the citizenry first’. A possibly out-of-step Pablo Casado accuses the Government of ‘expropriation’. Endesa, Iberdrola, Naturgy and EDP between them reported profits of 6,742 million euros in 2020, but the Government took in sundry electricity taxes around twice this figure.

Housing:

Spain’s rural areas have the worst access to basic services in the EU. Country dwellers in parts of Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón and Castilla y León have to travel on average more than 25 kilometres to reach a health clinic or a supermarket, according to a study by the Bank of Spain’. An article from El País in English here.

The fifteen cheapest municipalities to buy a house – all in the middle of nowhere – with prices of under 500€ per m2, are listed by 20Minutos here. The cheapest town on the list is El Carpio de Tajo at just 304€ per m2.

Tourism:

Spanish airports registered traffic of more than 18 million passengers and 189,070 aircraft movements in August, exceeding 70% of the levels reached in the same month in 2019. However, so far this year, the average traffic reached throughout the Aena network is just 32.2% of the pre-pandemic figures. Of the total of 17,930,455 passengers on commercial flights, 7,631,734 passengers (-7.9%) corresponded to domestic flights and 10,298,721 (-51.2%) to international flights…’. In summary: HostelTur says that local flights were at 90% of pre-pandemic levels in August, with international flights standing at 50%.

From Schengen Visa Info here: ‘Spain’s tourism sector experienced a 40% drop in tourist arrivals from UK’.

How some Costa del Sol visitors become residents, with CNN here: ‘It's Spain's Mediterranean escape, a place that for decades has been the go-to spot for jet setters, party lovers and package vacationers keen to let their hair down and enjoy sun, sea and sand in abundance…’.

There is some doubt whether Spain can keep the office of the WTO in Madrid. From VozPópuli here: ‘…An edifying trip by the Minister of Tourism Reyes Maroto to Cape Verde (to a meeting of African countries) has convinced the Government that it is facing the biggest diplomatic fiasco in recent times. The risk of losing the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization is very real. The UNWTO is the only United Nations body based in Spain. And Saudi Arabia wants to take it to Riyadh…’. The loss would be a bitter blow for Spain, it says here. The issue will be decided at the United Nations later this month.

Politics:

The Corner considers the state of Spanish politics: ‘Politics is the art of the possible; democracy requires mediation, containment, explanation, persuasion, convincing… None of this characterises Spanish politics, which are sliding towards the opposite, towards the impossible, towards exaggeration, simplification and polarisation…’.

While the squabble for the leadership of the future regional Partido Popular continues (Madrid mayor Martínez-Almeida or regional president Ayuso?), Esperanza Aguirre (who champions her successor Isabel Díaz Ayuso) warns against cutting Ayuso’s wings – ‘the kids and party nutters who are trying to poison voters in favour of Almeida are only helping the PSOE’ she says. The story at El Huff Post here. Pablo Casado has not been drawn into a stated opinion so far claims Europa Press here. The party national convention will be held later this month in Santiago.

The Vox president Santiago Abascal speaking in the Congress on Wednesday raises his rhetoric and points to migrants as being the "enemies of Spain". elDiario.es here.

Catalonia:

The Government and the airport authority rule out El Prat expansion due to differences with Catalan politicians. A row broke out despite the deputy premier of Catalonia having signed a deal covering the €1.700 million project. The tensions are throwing into doubt plans for talks over the future of the region’. El País in English reports here.

The Diada, the regular Catalonian independence demonstration held this past Saturday, lost fuel this year as the Barcelona numbers were markedly down from 2019’s figures (although the fury was apparently up).

From Catalan News here: ‘A fresh round of talks between the Catalan and Spanish governments over the issue of independence began on Wednesday afternoon in Barcelona. This first session was preceded by a meeting at 3 pm between both presidents, Pere Aragonès and Pedro Sánchez, to set the rules of the talks. Both attended the beginning of the talks between delegations and left soon afterwards. The Catalan presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, and business minister, Roger Torrent, will also be present, while on the Spanish side, presidency minister, Félix Bolaños; territorial policy minister, Isabel Rodríguez; culture minister, Miquel Iceta; and second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, will attend…’. We read that ‘…After his meeting with Aragonès, Spanish president Pedro Sánchez confirmed that his position was "radically different from that of the Catalan government", but added that both leaders agreed that dialogue is the way forward…’.

Europe:

Goodness, there’s another row between the Daily Express and the EU. On this occasion, the Spanish – at the very least – have said that those Brits living in Spain, as we delicately put it on Facebook, ‘under the radar’ – that’s to say, without the appropriate paperwork – will be summarily ejected from the country when discovered.

If we might assume that this will be the case for all of the countries of the EU-27, not such a leap perhaps, then there will soon be quite a large number of tearful Brits waiting on the quayside for one of London’s fine destroyers to dock and pick ’em up.

One can imagine the call from the captain: ‘Form an orderly queue please (they already had, of course). You can bring with you one small suitcase, no pets and no foreign companions’.

Bickering between themselves as to whether they were expats (or exexpats) or rather immigrants, the deported Brits shuffle slowly forward to the gangplank.

I suppose this is all to do with Brexit’, says one redundantly.

The problem doesn’t end there.

As they disembark at the other end, in some British port far away from the eyes of the press, they will wonder what will become of them. This isn’t a re-run of Dunkirk – nobody in the UK wants anything to do with this.

Neither their relatives, anxious about the spare-bedroom and the drinking problem, nor the Home Office – notoriously unhelpful when it comes to dealing with new settlers from abroad – will wonder if they were in any way responsible for the 200,000 or so refugees who would be preparing themselves, in that British way we have, into making a modest fuss.

The UK is not the same as the old GB, as any number-plate enthusiast can tell you, because now it’s just another foreign country.

We had better keep checking the Daily Express to see how this issue is coming along.

From Deutsche Welle here: ‘Europe experiences hottest summer on record, scientists say. The high temperatures were particularly severe in countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain. The continent experienced a variety of extreme weather events this summer, including deadly flooding and wildfires’.

The Coronavirus:

El País in English (Tuesday) here: ‘As coronavirus transmission continues to fall, Spain moves out of ‘high risk’ level. The cumulative incidence of the virus over 14 days has fallen below 150 points for the first time since July 1’.

Courts:

The right-wing media is moving on the wife of the new leader of the PSOE-A Juan Espadas. Carmen Ibanco was employed at the Faffe (an agency run by the Junta de Andalucía under the PSOE-A whose sole responsibility would appear to have been towards its party-chosen employees). A judge is currently investigating La Fundación Andaluza Fondo de Formación y Empleo, known as la Faffe, which ran from 2003 to 2011 as ‘a placement agency for the Andalusian PSOE’ (ABC here). Ibanco says she was a normal employee of the agency and ‘has no understanding of why she should have been called to declare in court’.

Media:

As had happened before in March, the commentators of the public TV once again failed to simply say 'Kosovo' during the recent televised football match with Spain, since Spain does not recognize the Balkan country as a state. Before the game began and under FIFA rules, Kosovo was able to display its flag and to exercise its right to have the anthem sounded. However, the TVE chose to cut away for advertising at that time. El Correo says that the commentators insisted on saying ‘the territory of Kosovo’ or ‘the team of the Kosovo football federation’. A silly way of insisting that here in Spain, we don’t believe in territories calving off from the motherland. Perish the thought that Catalonia might take encouragement from the doughty Kosovars.

At least the score was to our liking: the September 8th game score: Spain two, Kosovo nil.

There used to be a time in Spain when Gibraltar didn’t appear on any school map, and the turn-off to the road towards Gibraltar was only marked for the border town of La Línea de la Concepción. One friend of my parents – while under the impression that he was entering Gibraltar – managed to mistakenly enter the nearby Cepsa San Roque refinery on a drunken night in 1967 while babbling in English to the bemused guards and waving his British passport in the air. A gesture peculiar to the British, which until recently has never failed.

There are other themes which are traditionally sensitive to the newscasters. Like Kosovo, Gibraltar, ‘La Banda Criminal’ ETA, Ceuta and Melilla (and some uninhabited islands off north Africa) and the Catalonian independence movement, and in a different way, the Monarchy, the public newscaster has its prepared and official take on certain key news.

Ecology:

Ecologists don’t like ‘invasive species’ (apart from tourists) and there’s none they like less than el mapache – the raccoon. From Verdeyazul here: ‘They are intelligent, adapt easily and reproduce at breakneck speed. Perhaps these are the reasons why all experts fear raccoons and warn with concern how fast this invasive species is spreading in Spain…’.

In the plant invasive species, we find Pampas Grass to be ‘a huge threat to nature’ according to something called The DAISIE, which lists ‘an inventory of alien invasive species in Europe’ here. The chilling warning comes from La Vanguardia here.

Various:

How much does the Spanish Monarchy cost? The PSOE, PP and Vox have blocked a commission into the full public audit of the Monarchy says La Información here. The official figure is 8.4 million euros per year, but it is acknowledged that several ministries pay for different parts of the pie without revealing their costs.

Spain's high-speed railway revolution’ from CNN here. ‘…At 3,567 kilometres, it's the second longest high speed rail network in the world (after China)…’ says the article.

Some good news for drivers – the future rule that one may not exceed the speed limit by up to 20kph when overtaking on secondary roads has been pulled. Probably. The story here.

From The Guardian here: ‘Morocco’s king appoints billionaire Akhannouch to head government after election win. King Mohammed VI asks businessman to form government after his RNI party trounced the long-ruling Islamists’.

Pablo Iglesias ceased collecting his compensation of 5,300 euros per month as former vice president when he began work at the university and in the media’ says Maldita here.

A learned discourse on language. It seems that Spanish-speakers really do speak faster than English-speakers. (You’ll probably just want to take our word for it…). From Science here.

There are a few American stories going around about radio hosts who rail against the Covid vaccine suddenly dropping dead from a heavy infection. Some of these characters are a bit contrite towards the end… In Spain, we read at Público of ‘Deniers until death. Some anti-vaxxers denied the existence of the coronavirus until they suffered it in their own flesh. Sociologists, psychologists, and immunization experts explain why they reject reality’.

The chances of winning the big prize on a lottery, mathematically speaking, are zero. But somebody wins… Indeed, the chances of winning with 100 different tickets in one’s possession, mathematically speaking, remain at zero too. That said, here’s Think Spain with ‘Customers queue for Christmas lottery at Spain's 'luckiest' ticket shop’.

From The Local here: ‘Spain says huge wildfire under control after 7 days. A huge wildfire in southern Spain has been brought under control after it raged for seven days, killing a fire-fighter and forcing 2,600 people from their homes, regional officials said Tuesday. The blaze, which officials believe was started deliberately last week in the Sierra Bermeja mountains near Estepona, “is under control”, Juanma Moreno, head of Spain’s Andalucía region tweeted…’. The reason seems to be (as much as anything else) the change in the weather. From The Olive Press here: ‘Overnight rain brought much needed respite to the fire-fighters and army working to quench the flames that have burned some 10,000 hectares of forest in the hills above the Costa del Sol…’. The European Space Agency has a satellite image from the Copernicus Sentinel - 2 (Tuesday) here.

From September 20th, Madrid removes almost all limits of hours and customer numbers for its bars, restaurants and theatres because, as the regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso says, ‘Madrid has been defending freedom for decades’. El Español has the story here.

From elDiario.es: The mayoress of Paris has announced that she will run for the presidency of France in 2022. Anne Hidalgo (wiki), in addition to being a feminist, social democrat and environmentalist, was born in San Fernando, Cádiz. If she wins (which on the face of it is unlikely), she would be the first ever Spanish woman president of a republic, although paradoxically of another country.

He had barely been in Barcelona prison for nine days (nine!) when he got hold of a white jacket and a tray, strolled up to the front door, looked in the Guardia Civil booth and put on his best waiter smile… “I'm just popping out to get a coffee for the director", he said. And he left. Through the front door, like bullfighters at their best. When officials did the routine count of inmates that evening, one was missing. Someone at the main entrance then asked: "Hey, has the coffee guy come back?"…’. La Vanguardia recalls its favourite escape story – the 1991 breakout by Lopecito from the Modelo Prison.

Some old pre civil war Spanish car companies and their products on YouTube here.

The London Spanish Film Festival – 23 to 29 September: here. ‘The 17th edition of the London Spanish Film Festival comes again with a selection of some of the most exciting and interesting films recently made in Spain. Most of them UK premieres, they're the product of new as well as established filmmakers and, in the variety of their genres, they will make you laugh, keep you on the edge of your seat and probably invite you to think about life and taking decisions as well as risks…’.

See Spain:

We may have found the next Bohemian village: from elDiario.es here: ‘La Algameca Chica (Murcia): the hundred year-old village overlooking the Mediterranean that lives in "harmonious anarchy". The settlement, located at the mouth of the Rambla de Benipila, has cheerfully resisted pandemics, climatic adversities and clashes with the authorities for more than a century…’. They say it’s like a Spanish version of the village where Asterix lived!

Incredible train journeys in Spain, with La Información here.

With Moventis, we join the classic route of the seven castles of Lleida (Lérida) here.

The ten most attractive walled towns in Spain, with 10Minutos here (gallery).

Letters:

Hi Lenox,

As I am sure that you and many others are aware Medical Supplies and many types of Food in Cuba are almost non-existent, so much so that the Government have been forced to say that anybody coming or coming back can now bring a Suitcase of Non Perishable Food and Medicines without paying any Import Duty.

Also both in the UK and in Spain Special Charities have sprung up to raise money for these purposes. You may know that it is recommended here that unused Medicines should be returned to Farmacias, and I discovered locally that one of our local Farmacias had large collections of such In Date Meds just building up!

There is a Family in Madrid with connections to a particular town in Cuba and they have set up a collection point so that Meds can be sent out to the town, which sadly has suffered terribly from Covid.

GLOBAL COMMUNITY MATANZAS,

NEGOLUTION

CALLE CANARIAS 3, 3 Izq C

28045 MADRID (webpage here)

I will find out the UK Collection Point.

Best, Robin

Hi Lenox

I wonder which one of the eléctricas Sánchez will end up working for when he leaves the Moncloa…

Dwight

Hi Dwight, He keeps this up, he’ll have to look elsewhere!

Finally:

El Correo Gallego seems excited about a local folkie group called Tanxugueiras (on YouTube here with Figa) and they are hoping that the group and its song Figa will make the Eurovision Song Festival. Spain certainly needs a scorer!

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