Weekly Report”

Business over Tapas (Nº 518)

Business over Tapas (Nº 518)

  • 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 diciembre de 2023, 00:02h

28DIC23 – MADRID.- (Día de los Santos Inocentes) For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: [email protected] ***Now with Facebook Page (Like!)***Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access. Business over Tapas and its writers are not responsible for unauthorised copying or other improper use of this material. Subscription and e-mail information in our archives is never released to third parties.


Christmas in Spain. At least down where I live, it doesn’t quite ring true like the old traditions in England. There’s no holly or mistletoe (acebo and muérdago) to leave on the shelf or kiss the maid under. Come to think of it, there’s no maid either. The tree looks a bit out of place as well, and some of us settle for the dried flower taken from a century plant, una pita, bedecked with a ribbon or two.

I just have the one Christmas card this year to put on the – well, the chimney-piece if there was one. It’s from my old nanny from when I was a child in Norfolk (it’s almost sixty years since I’ve last seen her). It has a snow-scene and a short poem in a rather wonky metre. It was posted in late October and I gather that it must have travelled about fifty kilometres a day to reach me in Almería a mere seven weeks later. Well done our friends at Correos, and don’t forget the seasonal tip for Mr Postie!

Instead of Christmas cards, we seem to give each other those dreadful poinsettias instead.

The thing is, the old traditions don’t really have the same thrust over here. I suppose one can buy Christmas Pud at the English shop in our local market town, and douse it with brandy, but I’ll pass on that, thanks. The turkey is fine, although my Spanish family prefers endless plates of jamón serrano and gambas for the New Year thrash.

I think they may have a point.

We have plenty of cakes here though. The Roscón de Reyes is as delicious as the polverones are terrible. These floury morsels are quite impossible to swallow, even with a seasonable glass of anís.

I wonder - do the banks still offer this interesting combination to its customers (usually consumed before one see one's balance)?

I’m pretty sure that the petrol stations have sadly given up on this delightful institution… After all, there’s nothing quite like driving drunk with the manager’s compliments.

Carol singing in England for me as a child was a quick couple of verses of ‘The First Noel’ followed by mince pies and some warming toddy. Then off to the mansion at the other end of the lane for a repeat. Here we are regaled ceaselessly throughout the entire season by villancicos: horrible songs pumped out all day long through the Nation’s municipal and supermarket loudspeakers as performed by cute little choristers and their noisome piping voices. Today I heard the revolutionary ‘While Shepherds Wash Their Socks by Night’ (I’m not kidding) on the radio, sung in passable English.

The Spanish are fond of Christmas lights. Our village has – so I read somewhere – 200,000 euros worth of Christmas light-bulbs and sundry decoration nailed to the trees, lamp-posts, roofs and traffic signs, to continue to shine – I’m told – all through to the end of January.

They are so bright that somebody from the Space Station apparently asked the town hall to ‘tone it down a bit’.

Dressing up as Santa Claus is just silly. He wears a heavy red outfit with cap and mittens, while our local temperature is in the high twenties thanks to Global Scorching.

I think just a red tee-shirt would be quite enough to go with the ho ho ho.

The bus-driver this morning was wearing a Santa’s hat. The American version of Christmas in Spain is every year more evident. They’ve even introduced here the frightening elf on the shelf – el elfo travieso – to watch over the small ones.

There’s no Christmas stocking here as yet, and indeed the whole presents-under-the-tree thing is another foreign import which, no doubt, is working its way into Spanish custom (the toy-shop people will be seeing to this). I suppose that, reeling as we are from not winning the Christmas lottery, something in gaudy paper to unwrap on Noche Buena – Christmas Eve – might have been a good idea. A kind of consolation gift.

The small presents given out by the Spanish for January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany – usually falling on the day before school begins – don’t quite hit the spot.

I was once one of the Three Kings – the blond one of course. All went well as we arrived in the town square in a suitably decorated dumper truck but when the first, rather fat child sat on my knee to receive a dinky-toy, he spotted that under the heavy makeup lurked a guiri. He let out a quite improper shriek, even though I explained that all three of the Reyes Magos were indeed foreigners. You know. From afar.

The best thing about our Christmas season, and you will notice it in the photos we send on the Internet to our families and friends in far-off England or Germany (Christmas cards won’t get there until Easter), is the fact that we are all wearing tee-shirts under a warm blue sky.

Now, could there be a better gift than that?


From Chorizo Chronicles here: ‘Buying a flat in Spain – a sort-of guide for expats and others’.

‘A British estate agent has seen his business in Valencia boom since Britain voted to leave Europe in 2016, as UK émigrés sought a new life in Spain and bought properties in one of the country’s most fashionable destinations. He has also benefited from a similar influx of Americans who decided to leave their country because of Donald Trump, gun violence and political polarisation. “When we talk to Britons, they say they are coming to Spain because it is a shit show in the UK, while Americans say it is a ‘dumpster fire’ in the US, which means it is a mess,” he tells INews here.

Living in Granada – an American vlog on YouTube here.

There there’s living in Ceuta on Idealista (in English) here.


Tourism is – we agree – a bothersome way of bringing in lots of foreign (and domestic) dosh. It mostly goes to the restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and hotels. Annoyingly for the authorities, some of it gets waylaid by other foreigners, home-owners, foreign airlines and agents and so on. Maybe even a realtor will pull in an occasional prize. Sometimes, the opportunities are ignored – like Sunday opening, or building on the coast or stopping all-inclusive hotels – but other times, they get it right: eco-taxes (just for foreign visitors), the Parador hotels, lots of marvellous festivals and fiestas and the excellent menu del día. Sumar, the left-wing coalition, wants to ‘fix’ some of the issues says VozPópuli – like reduced opening hours (particularly on Sundays and fiestas); less unpaid overtime; the elimination of the Golden Visa; home subsidies for employees in high-density tourist areas; the fight against the overuse of private jets; more eco-taxes and efforts to lower CO2 emissions. Tourism in 2023 was worth about 12.6% of Spain’s GDP or 183,000 million euros says EFE here.

From The Olive Press here: ‘Barely days after unions had announced that they would not be calling strikes for Spanish airline Iberia’s ground staff, the stoppages are back on. The UGT and CCOO unions have announced that workers will be downing tools across the country from January 5 to 8. The move comes after talks between those unions and the former Spanish flag carrier broke down. The strikes will coincide with the Los Reyes Magos holiday, which falls on January 6, and is a period when many passengers will be travelling through Spanish airports…’


The two leaders Sánchez and Feijóo eventually met up last week and agreed to toss the problem of the renovation of the CGPJ – overdue by five years – to the European Commission. 20Minutos reported on Tuesday that ‘Brussels is already "studying" the request of the PP and the PSOE to mediate in the renewal of the CGPJ but warns that its position is clear’. The article says that ‘…on the threshold of 2024, the amnesty law and the accusations of lawfare against judges and prosecutors have taken over the political news, plunging the Government and its partners into an unprecedented confrontation with the Judiciary. Sánchez and Feijóo want to close, before the eyes of Brussels, an agreement…’

A political bombshell – as the Galicia regional elections are brought forward by five months to February 18th. Alberto Núñez Feijóo (the ex-president of Galicia now down in Madrid leading the PP) needs to celebrate a convincing victory back home.

‘These Galician elections are of national importance: they are the first since Feijóo left the Xunta in the hands of Alfonso Rueda to make his jump to Madrid. There’s the risk of losing the absolute majority and depending on Vox even in their own home, but if the PP has decided to put them forward to February, it is because they trust that they will go well and will serve to remove the loser label from Feijóo following the investiture of Pedro Sánchez and to calm down the tension within the party’ (Juanlu Sánchez: eldiario.es).

Tezanos’ CIS’ (the main pollster in Spain is often accused of massaging the result in favour of the PSOE) has published the latest poll, giving the PP a reduced lead over the PSOE. The details are at El Huff Post here.

‘When the PP runs the government, then they have 100% of the power. When the socialists control the government, then the conservatives have some 80% of the power’. Íñigo Errejón (Más País) explains in a speech in Parliament how the judiciary, media, IBEX 35, military and the Church are all on the same team. Video at YouTube here. Poor chap, he still looks like he’s about twelve.


An article about visiting Gibraltar in the Diario de Cádiz makes this point: ‘More than 60% of the tourists that Gibraltar receives each year are Spanish. The possibility of setting foot on British soil, even if it is a colony, just a few steps away, attracts many, in addition to saving the always expensive trip to the United Kingdom…’ (Also, see what the article thinks about la comida británica). The comments are unsurprisingly stupid.


From the Majorca Daily Bulletin here: ‘Green light for France to ease the 90-day problem for British home owners. Spain is expected to follow suit’. Wishful thinking? Perhaps something will come out of the FITUR travel fair in Madrid (January 24th to 28th).

From the FT here: ‘How migration is pushing Europe to the right. Growing public concern over asylum applicant numbers is bolstering once-fringe parties across the bloc’.

Some propaganda here: The (pro-Brexit) Daily Express title on Tuesday: ‘Scheming EU countries leave UK out of 'landmark' transport plans as map reveals betrayal. The UK is omitted from a major trans-European transport project poised for approval by the EU Commission’. The article itself is plain vanilla. (Video comments here).


Covid, the flu and (for babies) bronquiolitis are all with us over this winter period says 20Minutos here. Check your centro médico for vaccinations.

The Comisiones Obreras union (CCOO) says that Andalucia has 200,000 more people on the sanidad waiting lists since the PP took over the regional government in 2018. On Wednesday, the manager of the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) and the regional deputy Councillor of Health both resigned their posts in the midst of the crisis due to waiting lists.


From Cordópolis here: ‘A real estate developer from Córdoba is accused of defrauding families on the Andalusian coast and Murcia of 20 million euros. The clients discovered that the company did not even own the plot to build the apartments and have filed a complaint for fraud and misappropriation’. The company is named in the article as Grupo 21.


It looks like La Opinión de Murcia is happy to publish something which it (and we) know to be false. The article: ‘Tests on the water in the Mar Menor during November show that there are no nitrates present’. We read elsewhere that ‘Elevated nitrate levels in drinking water are often caused by groundwater contamination from animal waste run-off from dairies and feedlots, excessive use of fertilizers, or seepage of human sewage from private septic systems’.

Do we see anything ‘leading’ about this title from ECD? ‘Irene Montero will steal half a million votes from Yolanda Díaz in the June European elections’.

What happened in 2023? Here’s Miguel Charisteas video on YouTube with his comic Discurso de Navidad.

From The Olive Press: ‘The Olive Press is offering a special Christmas deal with an incredible 50% discount on our online subscription packages. The discount applies to the first three months of the monthly package, the first quarter of the quarterly package and the first year of the annual subscription’.


‘The European Commission has announced that it will report Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU for its "complete non-compliance" with community regulations on the collection and treatment of urban wastewater. "The information collected by the Commission shows widespread non-compliance with the Directive in Spain," the Community Executive said in a note, recalling that the Directive in question aims to "protect the health of people and the environment by requiring that urban waste water is collected and treated before being discharged into the environment…’. El Periódico has the story.

A judge prosecutes three companies accused of contaminating the Mar Menor (Murcia) with waste. The court highlights that the actions of the commercial companies were guided "by a deliberate and absolute contempt" for the law says La Verdad here.

‘A landmark agreement to safeguard one of Europe’s most important wetlands underscores the importance of harnessing public opinion to drive the green transition and help mitigate the effects of the climate emergency, the country’s environment minister has said. The Doñana in western Andalucía – whose marshes, forests and dunes extend across almost 130,000 hectares (320,000 acres) and include a Unesco-listed national park – has been at the centre of a furious national and international row over recent years. The Guardian here.

The plastic farms of Almería are either very good or very bad, depending on who one asks (an agronomist or an environmentalist, for example). A study led by the CSIC (Spanish National Research Council) with Almería taken as a model indicates that large-scale intensive greenhouse agriculture is presented as a threat to arid areas given that said productive model would lead to the depletion of water resources, their qualitative degradation – due to pollution and marine intrusion –, the loss of biodiversity, contamination by micro-plastics and the increase in carbon emissions in the region…’. Europa Press has the story here.


Valencia: ‘Vox has ordered the removal of the license for an NGO to provide food for the homeless living in a city dry river-bed "for generating dirt". The NGO "Ayuda una familia" must stop distributing by January 1st the 600 daily food rations that its volunteers prepare and distribute to the most disadvantaged’ says La Cope here.

Stories of how some of the PP leaders have been economical with the truth regarding their academic curricula are brought to us by El Plural here: Cifuentes, Casado and now Ayuso.

The Government plans to outlaw the Fundación Nacional Francisco Franco (wiki) says EPE here.

We shall just have to hope that El Mundo approves of the wealthy and sophisticated people that have taken over the smartest part of Madrid. Their title: ‘Meet the new Latin American jet set that has conquered the luxurious Barrio de Salamanca: "Madrid is the new Miami"’.

Every town over 50,000 inhabitants plus the Spanish islands will bring in the new down-town ‘Centres of Low Emissions’ (ZBE in Spanish) controls from January 1st. increasingly, vehicles with B or C will be restricted says Business Insider. You’ll need an Eco or Cero sticker to access anywhere in Madrid apart from the M30 Says El Huff Post here. ‘Historical vehicles’ (they have special number plates) are exempt says Mapfre here.

Have you seen those little Citroën Ami vehicles in the cities? It’s a simple electric box on wheels with two seats for drivers aged 15 and over with a top speed of 45kpm. Top Gear takes one for a very slow spin here.

Another Citroën of note was the old 2CV version equipped with two engines, one in the front and the other in the back. It was called the Citroën Sahara and was notably used by the Guardia Civil – presumably to keep up the chase after the evildoers even with one motor burned out. It was an eccentric version of a 4WD: two motors serving two wheels each built between 1960 and 1963 in France. Oddly, they had two separate petrol tanks located under the front seats. It’s rare to find one today (there are said to be only 30 left in existence).

One of the Vox firmament – Javier Ortega Smith – was in the news this week for throwing a plastic water bottle at a fellow councillor from Más Madrid in the City Hall last week during a debate (video). Following this, he was – unsurprisingly – not removed from his position as a Madrid city councillor by the party. Ortega Smith, known as the man who swam across the bay into Gibraltar in 2014 where he raised a Spanish flag there as a stunt (he is still wanted by the Gibraltar Police) is now in the running, says Libertad Digital (a far-right news-site), to push Javier Abascal from the leadership in the next party assembly.

Expojove is a fair ‘for the children and adolescents’ being held in Valencia through January 4th 2024. Theatre, music and entertainment. Lots of fun for all the family. Two items in the news catch our eye: the first is that there’s an armoured tank at the fair brought there by the army. This was attacked by some anti-war group who covered it in pink paint. ‘War is not a toy’ they say (video). The second is a stand at the fair which sells badges and other souvenirs. Including Fascist pins and flags. Valencia City Hall is controlled by the PP/Vox.

The three kings – los Reyes Magos – traditionally have Baltasar as an African – sometimes still played as a white-man in blackface. Other times, a Black Spaniard (or foreigner) will take over the role. The children like their traditions, during both la cabalgata (procession) and also for the dishing out of presents. This year, in Cáceres (PP), the poster shows the third king as having red hair and a freckled complexion, as a spokesperson says that the celebrations will be ‘more inclusive and accessible than ever’. The story is at elDiario.es here. Later: the City Hall says it will fix the issue in time for the parade.

Spain is not a strong supporter of the Israeli side in the current conflict. Thus, a Vox-inspired plan to award a medal of honour to Israel by the City Hall of Madrid has been cancelled after consultations, and the award will be given to the Jewish residents of the city instead.

Do you still carry the green certificate of residence in Spain? By now, you should have fixed this, but if not, the British Embassy has a letter for you to share with Officialdom.

See Spain:

‘The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, a jewel of Muslim architecture’. Fascinating Spain has the story here.

From The Olive Press here: ‘Pontevedra in Galicia is the most searched for 2024 holiday, according to Booking.com. It comes after the popular holiday website analysed the travel plans of almost 29,000 people…’ Also check out blogger Colin Davies and his useful ‘A Pilgrims’ Guide to Pontevedra’ here.

‘The curious slice of Spain in Africa. The city of Ceuta in Morocco offers the chance to feast on tapas against a soundtrack of Muslim calls to prayer’ from The Telegraph here.


Hi Lenox,

We’ve been very busy today because of news in France which has completely eliminated the 90-in-180 day problem for all second home owners. The French government has promised automatic visa entitlements will be given to all property owners.

This is fantastic news for those who own property, but it isn’t quite what we were hoping for in terms of inclusivity. Suffice to say, it’s good for our campaign, but is not what we asked for.

We were hoping to achieve something that would benefit ALL British travellers, as well as part year residents in France/Spain before Brexit who rent homes as well as own homes. Those with boats and motorhomes were also hopeful of certain easements, and we are still working to try to solve those issues

The new legislation comes with problems of course because it’s not clear if somebody’s spouse will also be entitled to this automatic visa or their children or their parents etc. Clearly homes have many residents, often more than just the owner. So an automatic entitlement to a visa for the property owner is great, but if you still have to get visas for your spouse or family members it somewhat misses the point. Also, will anybody be able to buy a small garage and automatically have the right to live in France?

In Spain, things are different because of the Supreme Court ruling back in June which cancelled the six month absence rule for temporary residency. This of course makes part year residency possible again and means that anybody who had residency before Brexit has not lost it, unlike in France. So the campaign in Spain has changed somewhat and will become about helping people apply retrospectively for registration, now that it will not be cancelled due to absence. We don’t know yet, whether people will manage to do this or not.

Maybe you will see why when we keep referring to it as the 90 day “rule”, it becomes a challenge for us when we want people to understand how the situation can be changed.

So long as everybody thinks this is a Brussels rule, everybody thinks the solution lies in Brussels. And it doesn’t.

The solution can only be found in Spain, as France has now proven.

So instead of the “90 day rule”, we talk about the “90 day problem” instead. Our goal is to help Spain understand how they can alleviate the 90 day problem for those affected.

Andrew Hesselden (180 Days in Spain on Facebook here)


Año Nuevo, Vida Nueva’: a jolly New Year’s song here.

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