There’s a certain panic over these eco-stickers that we are meant to put on the windshield of our vehicles (or on the petrol tank of the motorbike, one supposes), if we wish to enter the centre of our local city, or indeed any major town of over 50,000 inhabitants.
Madrid and Barcelona, at least, sound keen to lower the ghastly smog levels following condemnation from the European Court of Justice. Around 7.5 million people live in these two cities – fifteen per cent of all Spaniards. To drive in either, motorists need to obtain and show a special sticker, an environmental badge.
Other large and no-so-large cities are generally a bit healthier, with sea-breeze, mountain air or other excuses for the remarkable breathability of the local soup. As such, no one seems too bothered to bring in the dreaded ZBE, low emission zone, pencilled in for this January, until it absolutely categorically positively has to be installed, by the end of 2023.
So, panic over, more or less, and maybe.
After all, it seems that there are only seven out of the eighty largest cities in Spain which would pass the limit of nitrogen dioxide levels. Granada and Murcia are the worst, Badajoz and Benidorm are the best. The police themselves say that only 13% of cities that should have their ZBE-system in place have so far got around to it. There’s a useful map here.
For a vehicle which would fail such a test, due to its exhaust smoke and its age, and in consequence unable to be used in the designated city-centre low emission zone, there is little to be done beyond pushing it to the edge of the city and selling it for peanuts to some country rube.
They’ll put up signs at the approaches to the ZBE: a red outline with the image of a car and dirty dots coming out of its exhaust. Then, those vehicles allowed access will have their handy eco-sticker representation on the same sign – possibly even with the hours permitted. No doubt a camera will be there as well; after all, there are few city halls that can’t do with some extra low-hanging income (the fine in question being 200 euros).
Some cameras will apparently double up and check if your ITV is current as well.
All of this is music to the ears of Spain’s elderly traffic czar Pere Navarro, who can ride around all day long in a modern vehicle with an up-to-date sticker, while talking on the phone and, if he likes, drinking a glass of something medicinal. He has a chauffeur you see.
149 cities and major towns across Spain will be operating the ZBE-system, sooner or later, with places as modest as Chiclana, Alcoi, Estepona, Fuengirola, Torrevieja, Torremolinos and Mijas making the list.
In short, each town hall must decide for itself as to the ‘when’; and they will have to place traffic signs to inform drivers, therefore – (says an item from the useful police N332 page) ‘if you have not seen any sign yet, it is because they are still planning where to do it’.
The sticker – assuming one’s vehicle makes the grade – can be bought at the correos for five euros (bring ID and car papers) or online from the DGT website. Foreign cars should have their own European sticker already (!), while Brit cars will… er… Better just park the car.
Old cars, collectors’ items all, are released from this program. An old – or historic car – must be over fifty and be properly registered – which will cost between 600 and 900 euros.
The four types of sticker are: O blue (electric cars); ECO green and blue (hybrids); C Green (petrol passenger cars and vans from January 2006, diesel from January 2014) and B yellow (as above, January 2000 for petrol, January 2006 for diesel). One can even punch in a licence plate on the DGT website to find out if that vehicle is going to earn a sticker. Of course, there’s a useful kit that can convert your car from petrol to zero-emission gas or electric for between 2,000 and 7,000 euros. Maybe. Or again, haul it to the edge of the city and put a ‘Se Vende’ sign on it. Trade it in, perhaps, for a nice new one.
And then you see, you can always take the municipal bus, or – if they have one – the tram.
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‘Balearics is the most expensive region for housing in Spain. Mallorca property prices higher than in Madrid, most expensive in Spain’. Item from The Majorca Daily Bulletin.
‘A staggering 40 percent of all the properties sold to foreigners in Spain in the first half of 2022 were just in the Costa Blanca and other parts of Alicante province, crowning it the residential tourism capital of Spain…’ The Local has the story here.
elDiario.es says: ‘The return of foreign tourism in 2022: the British and French sustained spending in the summer in the absence of Asian travellers. In the Valencian Community and Madrid, foreign tourists spent more than in 2019, although Catalonia and the Balearic Islands report even better figures’. A second article says ‘Everything is back to normal in turismo, except the prices – which have gone up by 16% over 2019’. The Olive Press says that 67.4 million foreign tourists visited Spain in the first eleven months of 2022.
Fitur, the international tourist fair in Madrid: 18 – 22 January. Official page in English here.
The Portugal News posts: the most on-time airlines in Europe over the past twelve months: Iberia, Air Europa, Iberia Express, Vueling and Austria Airlines make up the top five.
An article on cohousing from elDiario.es here: ‘"We demand a more humane and social way of aging," says Fernando, one of the members of the Jubilar Villa Rosita cooperative. After the scourge of Covid-19 in nursing homes, collaborative housing for the elderly has become a model that is generating more and more interest. They are created by people who leave their family home when they are still in good health and opt to continue their lives in a community made up of neighbours with whom (theoretically) they share similar interests’.
An interesting essay from The Daily Kos here: ‘Let’s talk about the very real target on the backs of people as they get older: Ageism’.
The submerged economy (or ‘the black economy’) is shrinking with more efficient tax inspections says El Boletín here. As a result, ‘Spain is enjoying a record rise in tax revenue that is unmatched among its European peers, after the pandemic forced clandestine business activity out of the shadows’.
Not that the submerged economy is all about selling fake tennis-shoes in the market. An article at El Nacional here says ‘Of the 100 richest people in Spain (all worth over 500 million euros), 69 of them "escape" paying the impuesto de patrimonio wealth tax – an unpaid average calculated per family as 2.28 million euros, or 157 million euros per year. That’s because they are fiscally resident in Madrid which doesn’t require one to pay this tax. However, the new Impuesto de Solidaridad de las Grandes Fortunas Solidarity tax on Great Fortunes will end the privilege granted to these "mega rich"’.
‘The 1,074km Algeciras-Zaragoza railway highway – to open in 2024 – will take 48,000 trucks off the road’, says El Confidencial here. This should reduce not only the heavy traffic, but also some 9,000 tons of CO2.
The Government is to help out starving artists apparently. Those autónomos in the arts who declare less than 3,000€ a year will be able to change to a special monthly cuota of 161€.
‘Not everything is valid in political criticism’, says the spokesperson for the PSOE in reference to Cuca Gamarra – the opposition PP champion (and effective leader in the Cortes for the Partido Popular) – as Gamarra says that what happened in Brazil, the attack against the parliament this past weekend, would be sedition and thus practically within the law of Pedro Sánchez following his recent reforms in the penal code in Spain (Sánchez had sent a message of support to President Lula de Silva which provoked the fuss). Lawyers consulted by El Español insist that such an action would in fact be considered as ‘rebellion’. Even Vox managed to be manfully quiet on the virtues of the recent ultra-attacks in Brazil. Elsewhere, the ex-Voxxer Macarena Olona on Twitter: ‘It is not a popular uprising. It's an attempted coup. All my solidarity with the people of Brazil. Law and Order. Without democracy there is no freedom". Quite.
On the same subject, that the parliamentary majority is in some way illegal or illegitimate, here’s a video from elDiario.es remembering the many occasions where either the PP or Vox so considered the Spanish one.
The new campaign manager for the PP is a ‘moderate conservative’ called Borja Sémper. He has already agreed with Feijóo that the party will drop its regular references to ETA as no longer being current. Instead, the party should criticise the Pedro Sánchez’ links to the ERC, EH Bildu and Podemos.
The Vox leader Santiago Abascal warns Feijóo that his party must become part of any regional or national PP government. ECD says that ‘He wants the voters to give Vox enough strength to be able to force through those pacts’.
The Ciudadanos General Assembly will be held this midweek (Wednesday and Thursday). Two candidates vie for the leadership of the crumbling party: Inés Arrimadas and Edmundo Bal.
Could the fractured far-left of Izquierda Unida, Podemos, Sumar, Más País and Who Knows Else merge into one powerful party, bringing a new direction to Spanish politics and the confusion of the far-right? No, says Electomanía here quoting from the horse’s mouth.
One of Spain’s more eccentric parties is the animal-rights group Pacma. They say they are now in preparation for the local and regional elections for late May. It begs a few questions… like, what would they propose for us humans?
From The Guardian here: ‘‘No topic is off the table’: the Spanish mayor hearing voters out over dinner. Michel Montaner, mayor since 2015 of Xirivella (Valencia) visits a different constituent at their home most nights to gain a better feel for people’s concerns’.
‘Public health in Europe: a time bomb. The covid pandemic has put a strain on a system weighed down by underfunding and a lack of personnel’ says EPE here. It begins: ‘Public health in Europe is going through moments of extreme tension, which makes it a veritable "time bomb" that could even lead to the "collapse of the health system", in the words of Hans Kluge, director general of the WHO for Europe. This situation has come about for various reasons: the aging of both the population and the health personnel (in a third of European countries, at least 40% of doctors are over 55, according to WHO data), understaffing, low wages and long working hours, cutbacks and underinvestment…’.
There’s a pretty little fascist girl called Isabel Peralta (a nice photo of her accompanies the article). According to El Español here, the poor little thing has been given a life-ban by Germany who says that ‘she is a danger to security and public order’. Isabel is from Toledo.
The Guardian brings us: ‘Brexit: thousands of Britons have been expelled from the EU since the end of the transition period. More than 2,250 UK nationals ordered to leave bloc between January 2021 and September 2022’. It says: ‘…Experts cautioned that the data did not specify why people were ordered to leave so not all expulsions may have been related to residency rules, but said the figures amounted to “the starkest possible reminder” of the consequences of Brexit…’
Why people in Spain are facing longer waits to see a doctor with The Local here. An expert tells us: ‘Given the lengthening waiting times, some patients are falling through the gaps and are not being seen, while others decide to go to the emergency room at hospitals instead, transferring the overload from one point of the health system to another. More people are also choosing to take out private insurance to avoid delays’. Ah, of course.
The Diario de Castilla y León has the story of a patient with multiple sclerosis who must wait for an appointment with her hospital until May of next year.
Public health personnel are due to begin a fresh series of strikes in Madrid, Catalonia, Valencia, Aragón, Extremadura, Navarra, Andalucía and Galicia unless they see improvements in working conditions.
Causing equal measures of distaste and denial, the president of the third largest private hospital chain says that the public health system in Spain is dead. From El Plural here: ‘Juan Abarca Cidón, president of HM Hospitales, has attracted notice after his recent depth charge against the Spanish public health system in a recent interview in the ABC. The doctor, communicator and business executive maintains that "public health has been broken by the pandemic." His statement has created a stir and discomfort in professional circles, which consider them disproportionate and little adjusted to reality, since they are made from a vision of the country's health reality that neither coincides with the managers of the public sector nor indeed with the majority opinion of the private sphere…’
PrEP, a pill designed to protect users from catching HIV Aids, which frees users from the obligation to wear a condom, is helping to bring about a large increase in Spain of cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea says El Confidencial here.
elDiario.es on the slow judicial system: ‘An X-ray of the collapsing Spanish justice system. Official data reveals the existence of clogged courts throughout the country. Judges and prosecutors are demanding more personal and material resources while the appointment of trials is delayed, in some cases, for several years’.
A strong article at Diario de Castilla La Mancha looks into ‘lawfare’ and the manipulation of the Spanish justice system by the PP.
Pablo Iglesias is setting up a new TV channel. Canal Red should be starting up by the end of this month.
The Government says that it won’t be implementing the European system of automatic payment for motorists who use the national motorway system in 2024. The 2023 election cycle make this a hot potato says the Ministry of Transport.
What happens when you can’t understand officialese? EPE says that 83% of Spaniards admit that they have ‘given up’ when trying to make their way through some administrative webpage. The article speaks of ‘obsolete web pages, saturated servers, the collapse of citizen service telephone lines and, even occasions which the physical headquarters of the institutions are not authorized to make appointments’.
More on the useful Facebook Page N332: ‘In January 2015 a group of police officers decided to create in their free time the Facebook page "N332", with the idea of explaining the Spanish traffic law to the international community, and the aim of reducing the traffic offences and accidents through education and knowledge of the legislation… There are now some 240,000 followers of this page’.
‘Why are more than twice as many electric cars sold in Portugal as in Spain? They have far lower average salaries, and yet their electrified mobile fleet advances twice as fast as Spain’s’. The Objective asks/answers here. The population of Portugal is not much bigger than Andalucía, and they have a 20% lower income than Spain. The article says that tax on a new car there is high, but taxes for electric cars are low, and the IVA paid is returned as a discount on one’s taxes. Sure, there’s the Plan Moves III in Spain, ‘but it’s slow, tedious and complicated’.
How the Far-Right exploit conspiracy theories. Some of their denials, like Climate Change, are simply dangerous. Ctxt fields an article here. The New World Order anyone, chemtrails?
There was a fuss recently in the hinterlands of Granada over a six-day long New Year’s rave. It’s one thing having an institutional fiesta, where the local tradesmen profit (viz. Mojácar partnership with Ferrero Rocher and the ongoing through the whole of January Christmas chocolate lights), but what about when there’s no evident commercial benefit? The nearby village of La Peza seemed happy enough with the hippies and now we hear that the organisers have contracted a camión-basura to remove all the rubbish. The villages say that they would be glad to see them again next year.
The young Royal handful Froilán has been sent by his mother Doña Elena to go and stay with his grandfather in Abu Dhabi and, says Lecturas, to keep a low profile for a while.
ABC brings us the story of the Fall of Granada, and why is was largely preserved, including the beautiful Alhambra Palace, by the Christian Kings. That same year, 1492, was the beginning of Spain’s adventures in the Americas, and, as National Geographic Español discovers, there was a time coming when Spain would become the wealthiest country in the world.
Before Madrid, Spain had various other capital cities. 20Minutos has the full list with photos here.
An excerpt from an article on exclamation marks: ‘…But I do quite like the Spanish idea of using an upside down exclamation mark at the beginning of a sentence and ending with a right-side-up one – although does it defuse the surprise value of a final ! or enhance it? Florence Hazrat’s book (An Admirable Point) is scholarly enough to tell us who invented it and when (the Spanish Academy, in 1754), but also that the following words were Bart Simpson’s very first – and he used them, extremely appropriately, when he saw his parents having sex: ¡Ay caramba!’
Spanish Christian pop music? We has it. Hakuna perform Noche on YouTube here.
Morocco isn’t so far away and it’s a fascinating country to visit. Civilized and modern, but in a different way to us. The Olive Press tells the story of a visit to Tangiers with the complications of public transport to contend with. Tangiers, says writer Walter Finch here, ‘is a magical place of friendly characters and wondrous sights’.
‘In Europe, we love our national health service. Indeed, the cynical Brexiteers even won their rebellion on the back of a message painted on a red bus’. From BoT 472 editorial.
I saw you wrote this recently.
Just to remind you this matter was taken to court which ruled that the remark was true and fair comment.
But, of course, remoaners will continue on about it in the hope that one day it'll come true!!!
Happy New Year, John
A possible Eurovision candidate? A novel Benidorm Fest 23 contender. Mi Familia with Fusa Nocta here on YouTube.