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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (N.º 419)

Business over Tapas (N.º 419)

  • 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

jueves 28 de octubre de 2021, 22:10h
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Editorial:

The story this week is the tension between the judiciary and the politicians: who runs the one, who runs the other. Are the judges beholden to the politicians, or do they willingly support one party over the other? A recent report showed that 47% of judges were members of right-wing associations, while another 8% were members of left-wing associations. So, there’s that. The overdue renewal of the CGPJ – over three years after its contract ran out, but blocked by the conservatives. There’s that, too.

In Spain, the concept of the separation of powers is somewhat blurred. The judiciary, the politicians, big business and the media often work against or over one another, honourably or disgracefully, as they can and as they must. The Church and the Army closely watching from the side-lines. The system of cheques and balances in Spain is a chimera.

As The Atlantic topically asked in 1899, ‘Is it safe to leave the selection of judges to campaign committees or to party bosses?’

And 120 years later, we could ask, is it safe to leave political questions in the hands of the not always impartial judiciary?

Housing:

From Think Spain here: 'Rocketing' house sales in Spain have reached levels not seen in over a decade, according to recently-released statistics – and although the rental market is said to be particularly buoyant at the moment, buyers comfortably exceed would-be tenants…’.

The Government has agreed at least on one of its projects – being the new Housing Law (ley de la vivienda). This will mean the regional governments will have the power to limit rentals on multi-property owners, while smaller owners will face a cap of an increase of 10% on a previous contract, but only when there has been recent improvements on the dwelling. With more council-owned homes and strict limits to desahucios (evictions), the full list of the seven main points in El Huff Post here. The story is also at Reuters here.

The Constitutional Court has declared the plusvalía capital-gain municipal tax on property to be unlawful (not, unfortunately, retroactive). Understandably shocked by the loss of this useful income, the federation of town halls and Hacienda both are looking to find a substitute acceptable to the Court.

Deutsche Welle brings us news to please parents (perhaps?) as their grown-up kids could be persuaded to leave home a little earlier than hitherto. ‘Change is on the way, if plans by the government of leftist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez are approved by parliament. Under his 2022 budget proposal, Sánchez is planning to offer young people a state allowance of €250 a month to incentivize them to move out of their parents' houses and apartments. The stipend would give young people "access to decent rental housing," Sánchez said when he announced the proposal on October 7. All adults between the ages of 18 and 35 who earn less than €23,725 per year would be eligible…’.

20Minutos brings us some prefabricated homes made out of containers at a bargain price here. Quick and easy.

British property buyers on the Costa Blanca have fallen by half compared to the pre-Covid pandemic era. Despite the drop-off, UK home purchasers are still the leading group of non-Spanish buyers in the region ‘says The Olive Press here.

The Express returns with a re-hash of its earlier stories: ‘'Human rights deprived!' Expat disaster over homes bought in Spain before Brexit. British expats in Spain who don't want to become tax residents and bought their homes before Brexit came into force are facing disaster, with one expert raging it is a "serious human rights infringement"’.

Tourism:

It’s a good thing, says the ABC here, that the British tourists are back in Benidorm, but it’s also the case that coronavirus infections there (at 254 per 100,000) are now (Tuesday) at more than five times the national average.

Finance:

From The Corner here: ‘Spain’s brand value grows by 4% over 2020; is one of only twelve nations to hit the €1,000 million mark this year’. It says ‘The Spanish brand has increased its value by 4% and is ranked 12th in the Nation Brands 2021 ranking by Brand Finance, which analyses the 100 most valuable and strongest country brands in the world. With this increase, it has recovered from the 28% drop it recorded in 2020 due to Covid-19…’.

Expect shortages in the months to come, warns an article in El Confidencial here.

An interesting interview discussing a range of issues between the UK and Spain with the ex-business councillor at the British Embassy in Madrid Bill Murray appears at VoxPópuli here. On tourism between the two countries, he has this to say: ‘Spain will continue to be the favourite destination of the British, without doubt. It is an impressive sector in Spain, every year 70-80 million people are received from abroad: one has to have an incredible organization and business model to manage this. Because of logistics, because of the organisation which is behind it, it is an industry in Spain that I think is impressive, just like the agro-food industry. People do not take credit for the assets they have in these sectors. There will be more competition and the industry will have to react, but there are more flights between the UK and Spain than even between Canada and the US. There are no two countries that have so many flights, I think there are 55,000 flights a year. It is incredible how many British people have their home here or are residents. I'm not worried, the sector will have to change its offer but I think it has already started to do so this year. Habits can change so the sector will have to change, but I think the figures for the sector in Spain speak for themselves’.

VozPópuli shows with graphics how the Spanish economy has waxed and waned since the return of democracy. The title: Recoveries and collapses of our economy. With the socialist governments of the 21st century, there have been no recoveries of the economy, but rather ruinous falls in our per capita income’.

The CEO of Bankinter, María Dolores Dancausa, disagrees with Pablo Casado and his recent statements in which he defended that Spain was on the verge of bankruptcy. "I do not believe that Spain is at risk of bankruptcy at all, I do not share that statement and I do not think it is good to make it, it does not seem right to me," she said during the presentation of the bank's results…’. Source: elDiario.es here.

Politics:

The PSOE and Unidas Podemos have been squabbling this week over a few issues – the improper removal of the Podemos deputy Alberto Rodríguez (see Courts below) and the issue of the annulment of the previous government’s workers regulations (or lack thereof) in favour of some new rules. This second issue was seen to be a question of which minister should take the helm – Nadia Calviño (PSOE Economy) or Yolanda Díaz (UP Employment) – one thinks of the future impact on the voters. By Wednesday, all had been settled – the Ministry of Employment Yolanda Díaz will lead the negotiations (with help from other ministries). A crisis averted.

From 20Minutos here: ‘The PP will offer an amendment to the totality of the forthcoming 2022 budget because it is "a guarantee of ruin for Spain"’

The Minister of Equality Irene Montero has ordered an inquiry into whether the laws against racial discrimination and xenophobia are sufficient says ECD here.

The PSOE and PP agree that Ángel Gabilondo is the new Public Ombudsman. The former socialist candidate for the Community of Madrid will relieve Francisco Fernández Marugán, who has been in office until now. El Huff Post reports here.

‘Pablo Casado wonders why "a politician who tells lies is not penalized at the polls". The leader of the PP defends in an interview in COPE that “you have to stop them lying. Why does politics allow lies? I ask for the return of honesty to politics, that the truth be valued"’. The remarks are found at InfoLibre here.

The erstwhile mayor of Badelona Xavier García Albiol (PP) is now out of office following mention of his name in the Pandora Papers. The moción de censura which ousted him allows the city to have a new mayor: Rubén Guijarro from the PSC. La Vanguardia here.

El Huff Post reports on ‘The tentacles of Vox in Latin America’. They might be ultranationalists, but their agenda is transnational says the article.

Europe:

This week’s Silly Headline from The Express: ‘Step up now Boris! PM warned to get tough with Spain as British expats face Brexit hell’. It says ‘Boris Johnson has been ordered to get tough with the Spanish Government as British expats face selling their homes and leaving the country because of mounting post-Brexit issues’. The first comment reads ‘Why should we do anything for people who deserted UK and went to live in Spain?’ Quite!

The apparently pro-Brexit EWN weighs in with their headline: ‘‘Human rights deprived!’ Expat disaster in Spain’.

A Reader sends me this from The Telegraph: ‘The EU is a failed empire that has condemned itself to irrelevance. Every day brings a fresh reminder that the UK was lucky to escape when it still had the opportunity’. There’s a pay-wall, but here’s an open copy.The European Union’, we read, ‘is a 1950s Disney fairy-tale wrapped in Continental legalese’. So there you go.

Health:

Those given the single-dose Jansen vaccine this summer will now be offered a second vaccination from November 15th ‘as a reinforcement’. As usual, the health service will advise.

The future home of el Centro Estatal de Salud Pública (here) is the first government agency to be decentralised, following Pedro Sánchez’ plan to move agencies and even some ministries out of Madrid. There is no official decision as to where this agency might be based, although Valencia seems a possibility. The agency would coordinate local medical issues and alerts. El Español carries the story here.

The Fundación Amancio Ortega has donated 280 million euros to the Spanish health system to buy ten proton therapy equipment units used to fight cancer. La Vanguardia has more. ECD tells us that Podemos considers the donation to be little more than ‘an advertising campaign’ by the founder of Zara, Amancio Ortega.

Courts:

Much has been written about the fall-out from the case of the Deputy from the Canaries Alberto Rodríguez. First, the (unsympathetic and fellow-Canarian) Supreme Court judge Marchena (wiki) found him guilty exclusively on the word of a policeman for giving the said officer a kick during an eviction protest back in 2014. No other police officers present at the event were either called or were able to confirm the assault. The president of Podemos Ione Belarra says it never happened, with the observation that ‘the while point being was to get him out of Parliament’, Video proof also shows it never happened, but the Podemos crowd are apparently held (under law?) to a different standard (and then there’s El Español using the same video to say that it did happen).

Rodríguez also denies the charge, pointing out that a six foot five inch - 1.98m - fellow with dreadlocks tends to stick out in a crowd – yet no one (except our friend the policeman) saw him kick anyone. Why – incidentally – wasn’t he arrested at the time for this attack, when he was just another citizen? Rodríguez is taking his case to the Court of Human Rights in Brussels, which will us plenty of time to forget this extraordinary story. The Judge furthermore insisted that Rodríguez should lose his seat in the Cortes despite the sentence only being 45 days of political disqualification; retroactively applied!

Then there are the ‘64,000 people’ who voted for him. The lanky politician reacted to the court ruling: “This has been an assault on the popular and democratic will of the Canarian people by the Establishment”. According to the Constitutional law, he cannot be sacked, but, under pressure from the right-wing media and parties, together with the truly impartial and apolitical judiciary, the Speaker of the Cortes finally caved in and ordered his dismissal. Rodríguez later said he wouldn’t sue the speaker, Meritxell Batet, for her action, although Podemos says she should be sacked from her position for her ‘gravísimo’ behaviour. Meanwhile, an anti-corruption association called the ACODAP (who is?), and run by a retired judge, has denounced Judge Marchena for his ruling in the case – and is now (Tuesday evening) calling for his arrest!

To round off the story, Alberto Rodríguez has now resigned from Podemos. LaSexta writes here of something called ‘lawfare’ – where the forces of the right-wing judiciary poke their noses into politics. It says ‘The conviction, without evidence, of deputy Alberto Rodríguez and the attempt to disqualify him as a deputy is the latest strategy of the judiciary to influence the legislature…’. Gerado Tece, in a powerful essay at Ctxt, writes that ‘This Alberto Rodríguez thing does not set a dangerous precedent because the loss to society isn’t him, it is rather the state of quality and democratic decency, and that was already surrendered a long time ago’. One can safely imagine what Pablo Iglesias thinks of it all.

A case of a stolen mobile phone owned by the Podemos Dina Bousselham (and the subsequent leak of its contents) has been opened for the sixth time (here) and again closed (here). In all, said Público in an article in June, Podemos has escaped with some twenty cases and investigations from various wings of the Establishment against it since its inception: ‘…Stories in the media, delays in time, attrition ... The judicial war (or in its Anglo-Saxon term lawfare) of the extreme right against Podemos was born practically at the same time as the party itself, in 2014. From that year until now there are, at less, twenty complaints and lines of investigation against Podemos that have been archived. Six of them alone in the last year…’.

‘The judge does not see a hate crime and acquits a passenger who got off the plane because "he did not want to fly with a black woman" says El Mundo here. ‘The judge claims that the man intended to "violate the dignity" of the flight attendant, but that since there was no prior relationship and given that his only motivation was his animosity towards black people, the facts are not serious enough…’. There’s still some way to go…

A judge has removed custody of an eighteen month old child from her mother because the parent lives in ‘the deepest part of Galicia’ and the child would ‘not have a normal adolescence’. The father, who lives in Marbella, has been awarded custody says an indignant Voz de Galicia here (or elDiario.es here). A lawyer disputes the headline here.

Media:

It’s odd isn’t it. You just want to read something you found on the Internet – in my case, ‘Brexit: Is it true Britons are leaving Spain 'in droves' as UK tabloids claim?’, when, Thud! down comes a sign saying you gonna have to subscribe or move along! Not only can I not afford to pay to join a couple of dozen different news-sites, my joining them to share with readers at BoT means that they – you – can’t read the damn article either. So, when running a link from a few pay-sites I have joined (because they seem worthwhile), I try to put in enough detail to give some satisfaction (or try to find someone else running the same or a similar news report). Does the news have an ownership, or is news available to be shared?

Ecology:

‘Despite the fact that Spain is one of the countries that has reduced the intensity of its carbon emissions the most in recent years, it will still have to almost double its efforts to meet the objectives reached in the Paris Agreement. A few days before the start of the Climate Summit (Cop26 – Glasgow, wiki), Spain has reduced the intensity of its carbon emissions by 7.9 percent, according to the Net Zero Economy Index report prepared by the consulting firm PwC, which also indicates that this effort in reduction is still "insufficient" to limit the increase in the planet's temperature to 1.5 degrees…’. El Periódico de Aragón reports here.

The Guardian brings us the story of a variety of Spanish sheep brought back from oblivion. ‘Thanks to a local vet and a group of concerned ecologists, the churra lebrijana breed has been rescued from extinction’.

‘The sanction that Spain has to face for the lack of wastewater treatment in nine urban agglomerations - in which more than 350,000 people live - continues to grow: it currently amounts to 53.4 million euros. It is the largest fine in the European Union that Spain has had to face since it joined’. El País says the fine is now increasing by ten million euros each semester. While the one at Tarifa is now working, the other nine remain off-grid. These are Matalascañas (Huelva), Alhaurín el Grande (Málaga), Isla Cristina (Huelva), Coín (Málaga), Barbate (Cádiz), Nerja (Málaga), Gijón Este and Valle de Güímar (Santa Cruz de Tenerife).

Various:

All the presidents from Suárez to Rajoy ‘looked the other way’ when informed about some improper behaviour of the erstwhile king of Spain says ECD here.

The Conversation asks ‘Is there a relationship between immigration and the increase in the extremist vote in Spain?’ The article thinks not, although, it admits, things could change.

From El Español here: ‘Israel closes agreements with Morocco to search for oil and gas in the middle of the Sahara desert and in Canary Island waters. The signing to explore for hydrocarbons in 109,000 square km comes nine months after the agreement between Morocco, Israel and the United States’.

Morocco is about to reopen its passenger maritime connections with Spain and its borders with Ceuta and Melilla says ECD here.

The US and four European countries including Spain have come to an agreement over the Google Tax (the tax on large multinationals) says EPE here. The deal is that when all countries finally agree to a flat international tax on multinationals, this will supersede any local taxes on these companies.

‘Life at the US naval base in Rota: A union of two worlds. Created by decree in 1953 under the late Spanish dictator Franco, this singular spot has developed a hybrid personality that combines languages, cultural elements and mutual interests’. El País in English here.

How the products we buy at the supermarket are slowly re-sizing (downwards) and re-pricing (upwards). The trick is to hope that the customer won’t notice says La Vanguardia here. There’s even a word for it: la reduflación (shrinkflation).

Catalan News looks at ‘Energy poverty: when it comes down to buying food or paying utility bills’ here.

MotorPasión takes us through all the taxes the poor motorist must pay and then says ‘to top it all, there’s a new motorway toll arriving soon to put the cherry on the cake’. Elsewhere, at La Cadena Ser, we read that almost half of all people old enough to drive and under 34 years of age don’t have a driving licence and apparently don’t see a car as being a priority.

‘Spain’s government has unveiled plans for a national ID scheme for domestic animals as part of a far-reaching animal welfare reform bill. The new animal welfare legislation will act as a sort of bill of rights for animals giving them an elevated status of a ‘sentient being’ above that of a possession, which is the current legal status…’. The Olive Press here.

From El País in English here: ‘Weekend getaway to La Palma: The volcano tourists flocking to see the eruption’. NIUS has the latest volcano video and updates here.

An English as a Foreign Language teacher writes about the fresh hardships in his job with ‘More than Teaching’ at Standing in a Spanish Doorway here.

From the blog My Little World of Travelling: Cristina is an ex-pat from the Costa del Sol and lives in the UK. Her post here is called ‘The Seven Biggest Mistakes When Moving to Spain & Other Tips’.

See Spain:

Eye on Spain brings us some of this country’s ‘Most Unusual Hotels’ here.

From Think Spain here: ‘Lazareto and Tagomago, the Balearics' lesser-known islands’.

Thinking about visiting Extremadura, Spain? Read everything you need to know before your trip to Spain’s most underrated region here at Piggy Traveller.

Veebrant is an online travel publication that offers original stories, valuable insights, and inspiring guides for today’s explorers’. Find it here.

Finally:

72 million people have seen this one in the past year. Reggaeton with Ana Mena and Rocco Hunt - A Un Paso De La Luna on YouTube here (Hey, she’s pretty and he’s Italian!). Then, they did it in Italian too (98 million people so far) here.

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