Política, Brexit, turismo, actualidad, finanzas, Cataluña, ecologismo, medios o corrupción son algunos de los temas que trata este boletín informativo

14/09/20. 
Opinión. El periodista Lenox Napier repasa la actualidad española en su boletín semanal Business Over Tapas, al que puede suscribirse por 60 euros anuales. Puede obtener más información en su web (AQUÍ) o en su perfil (AQUÍ). EL OBSERVADOR / www.revistaelobservador.com ofrece este contenido tres días después de su lanzamiento...

Editorial:

These days, Business is the manufacture of money, not service or production. Evidently, a change is needed. Not only that, it’s already here.
From Wolf Street here: ‘The contract between society and business has changed forever. The office will become a convening place where you get teams together, but the work will be done in people’s homes’. With people working from home, it’s clear that their home can be anywhere, even in another country.
I posted the following on Facebook and it went down well (maybe it was the picture). The blog original is here.
It’s Time to Switch Focus.

Domestic tourism is down and International tourism (where the money comes from abroad) is very down indeed. We think that Spain should smell the coffee and spend more time looking for foreign property buyers and less time listening to the hoteliers. There's no ministry or purse or spokesperson or international property fair or agency or promotion, but one foreign resident, living from his pension or his teleworking, with his house and his car and his permanency, is worth more to Spain than a hundred tourists.
And he takes up less room.
And he will be here next year.
And he won't be sick in the garden.

An interesting reply from Phil:
I worked from home in England and the company I worked for were quite happy for me to move out here. I bought a house, car, white goods, furniture. I’m in the Spanish tax system. I have to say I’m worth my weight in gold. But seriously now all the company are working from home, they are wondering why they need all this expensive office space in London. If Spain provided some sort of incentive scheme for re-location I’m sure they could attract a lot more people like me.

Housing:


From Spanish Property Insight here, is it time to buy? ‘Estate agents argue lower prices due to the Covid-19 pandemic mean now is a good time to invest in prime Spanish property, but the Bank of Spain cautions that the housing market recovery could be some time coming…’.

From Travel Daily News here: ‘Spain revealed as the place people are looking to relocate to most in the world’. It says ‘…Spain takes the top spot for the most searched for country, with 690,360 annual searches, 37,600 of which are from UK internet users, putting it over 194,000 ahead of Canada which comes in second place. With Spain’s economy increasing faster than the euro-zone average since 2010 (sic!) and creating a good environment for developing a career, as well as the country having a Mediterranean lifestyle that so many aspire to have, it proves to be one of the most popular countries in Europe for relocation…’.

So many items about okupas – is the alarm industry going through a growth period? Expansion says (April 2019) ‘The March family invests 557 million in Securitas Direct’. From El Confidencial (September 2019) here: ‘The reasons behind the millionaire alliance of Telefónica and Prosegur’. It’s probably just coincidental.

Thanks to the Covid-19, rental costs in Ibiza have fallen up to 50% says El Mundo here. Indeed, rental prices are moderately down in the larger cities of Spain for the same reason, although 20 Minutos also notes that defaults are up three times to 15%.

Tourism:

Losses up to the end of August: Forty million tourists and fifty thousand million (fifty billion) euros. Hosteltur says that foreign tourists January to August 2019 added up to 58.2 million. This year, estimates are around 15.5 million. And next year?

An interesting point was raised by El Independiente back in early 2019: not all the tourist money actually goes to Spain. Between agencies and airlines, only about two thirds of the tourist cash can be said to have made it safely to España. The article says (2018 figures) ‘Each tourist spends an average of 1,085 euros during their trip. But only 750 euros are actually paid in Spain’.

‘Log on, chill out: holiday resorts lure remote workers to fill gap left by tourists. The Canary Islands join a growing list of destinations wooing ‘digital nomads’ to help replace business lost to the pandemic’ The Guardian here.

La Razón says that travel agencies are recommending to the Government to expand the Imserso (Wiki) program to make it available to families as a way to help the tourist industry. The Imserso is of course partly subsidised by the State and is operated by the Ministerio de Derechos Sociales headed up the Second Vice President Pablo Iglesias. Spain’s hoteliers (la Confederación Empresarial de Hostelería representing 300,000 members) held a ‘concentración’ in Madrid on Wednesday (the tweet ‘Salvemos la Hostelería’ is here).

Seniors:

Early retirement seems more likely than ever says El Español in an article here. ‘…An increasingly common layoff formula is on the increase, which is to the liking of both companies and unions and affected workers: early retirement, which allows companies to reduce personnel costs by paying workers of a certain age only part of their salary and their Social Security contributions until the final retirement arrives…’. They expect 200,000 cases of early retirement this year.


Finance:

The Caixa and Bankia are likely to merge. As The Corner says, ‘Bankia and Caixabank will create the largest bank in Spain, streets ahead of BBVA and Santander’. We read: ‘Bankia and Caixabank have communicated that they are at a preliminary talks stage for a possible merger that would be carried out through an exchange of shares. For the time being, no agreement has been reached. The merger would create a lender with total assets of €664,000 million (or €664 Bn according to data from Q2’20). So it would be the leading Spanish bank by volume of assets, far ahead of BBVA and Santander. It would combine a network of offices (including those of CaixaBank’s Portuguese subsidiary) with 6,700 branches and staff of over 51,500’. The State, which holds 62% of Bankia, would have 14€ of the new entity.
With this merger, Spain’s three largest banks will have 61% of the national market.
Much of the media enthuses about this merger, El Español here and MSN here who says ‘Merger talk drives up Spanish banks — a bright spot on a tough day for European equities’.
VozPópuli however says that the fusion would cause job-losses for somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 workers.
El Confidencial Digital says that the merger was approved by Ana Botín (Wiki), the president of the Banco Santander (there’s one less major competitor among Spain’s lenders). They also claim that the merger has the support of 55% of the public.
Finally FACUA, the consumers’ association, says ‘It’s a scandal to merge Bankia without returning the 20,000 million euros from the FROB (the Fondo de Reestructuración Ordenada Bancaria), public money injected into the bank over eight years ago’ (Wiki).

El Economista writes of the ‘zombification’ of the economy – where companies receive cheap credit but are, in truth, barely operational. It says ‘The growing number of so-called zombie companies, generally defined as companies that are not profitable but remain on the market rather than disappear through takeover or bankruptcy, has drawn increasing attention in public debate. The Covid-19 pandemic has given further impetus to this debate as the crisis puts serious pressures on the business sector that governments seek to counter through large-scale support measures’.

From La Información here: ‘Ministers Calviño (Economy) and Escrivá (Social Security) propose to close the ERTE tap to 'zombie' companies. The two ministries reject a generalized extension of public aid that artificially supports companies that are unviable in the face of the change in the economy’.

‘Spain is the euro zone economy that is suffering the most from the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of GDP and employment, according to data published by Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Commission. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the euro area registered a fall of 11.8% between April and June (slightly better than the previous estimate of -12.1%), unprecedented in the entire historical series, after having suffered a contraction of 3.6% in the first quarter of the year, according to the first estimate of the data published by Eurostat, which indicates Spain as the economy with the worst evolution, with a contraction of 18.5% of GDP…. Item from El Economista here.

Youth unemployment in Europe, by country on Twitter here. Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union.

Mercadona has completed the process of selling 27 supermarkets (the real estate, not the business) for 180 million to the US investment firm LCN Capital Partners European Fund III to then lease them back. The company chaired by Juan Roig put up for sale in March a portfolio of 36 properties, which house supermarkets of the Valencian chain distributed throughout Spain, with the intention of attracting 200 million euros to continue with the transformation of its commercial network…’. From Las Provincias here.

Tax collected on petrol, smokes and alcohol in the first half of 2020 were down 13%, and – more worrying still – they were down 34% in June. El Economista reports here.

Politics:

Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Ciudadanos, is moving to the politics of the centre, while the far-right is held by Santiago Abascal, his Vox and his September moción de censura. Is there a place in the middle for Pablo Casado, asks elDiario.es here.

The PSOE says it is agreeable to supporting a Ciudadanos-led government for the Madrid Region, ‘for democratic hygiene’, if a moción de censura against the regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso were to occur. La Cadena Ser has the story here.

Europe:

‘Britons in EU: rights are safe says Michel Barnier. State pension rights – and other expatriates’ rights – are safe thanks to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement deal the EU’s chief negotiator said on Monday’. The item comes from the France-based Connexion here.

The Coronavirus:

‘How do we know that the coronavirus is real and not a big hoax? There are hundreds of thousands of scientific studies and evidence on SARS-CoV-2. However, denialism, the belief that the virus is not real, is considered by various experts to be instinctive and impervious to fact’. The ABC wonders at the denialists. Wiki: ‘In the psychology of human behaviour, denialism is a person's choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth. Denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of a historical experience or event, when a person refuses to accept an empirically verifiable reality’.

Saturday. ‘The Total coronavirus infections in Spain rise to more than 500,000. The new figure was reported by the regions on the same day that 13 people were arrested at a protest against Covid-19 safety measures and restrictions in Madrid’. El País in English here.

Why are there so many reported cases of Covid-19? It says here that of the 33 densest square kilometres of population in Europe, 20 of them are in Spain.

The Government has published the COVID Radar code under the Mozilla Public License 2.0 license to show how it works, at the request of academics and experts, and will allow the Spanish contagion tracking app to be audited externally to ensure its reliability.

Corruption:

This is becoming the news story of the week.
‘The telephone number of the former number two at the Ministry of the Interior under Mariano Rajoy reveals that the then minister Fernández Díaz controlled the espionage operation against José Luis Bárcenas, the former PP party treasurer now in prison (‘In 2018 Bárcenas was sentenced to a 33 year prison term and a €44 million euro fine for his role in the Gürtel trial. Wiki). The evidence found by the investigators place the Rajoy Government and the PP leadership as the instigators of the political brigade that also developed Operation Catalunya (Wiki) and the sundry manoeuvres against Podemos’. ElDiario.es reports here. A second article suggests the participation of the secret service, the CNI here. The Cadena Ser says here that ‘The report of the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office requesting the indictment of former ministers Jorge Fernández Díaz and María Dolores de Cospedal with evidence that implicates both and even holds allusions from some of those investigated that points to the complicity of former president Mariano Rajoy’. The ongoing inquiry, based on a plan to torpedo judicial investigations into corruption back in 2013, is known as ‘Operación Kitchen’. El País in English here: ‘A court investigation codenamed Operation Kitchen has become a new time bomb for Spain’s conservative Popular Party’.


What is the Operación Kitchen and what is the judge investigating asks RTVE here.
The Kitchen Operation is the seventh separate piece of the Tándem case - which investigates the businesses of former commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, as well as several of his alleged clients - that was opened by the National Court in November 2018. The investigation focuses on deciding whether there was an operation led by Villarejo and financed with reserved funds (i.e. non-accountable funds) from the Ministry of the Interior between 2013 and 2015 to recover compromising documents and recordings for the PP that the former treasurer of the party Luis Bárcenas would have taken, using for this the collaboration of Bárcenas' own driver and his wife, Rosalía Iglesias…’.

A wider view comes from elDiario.es here: ‘The tactic to reduce the Gürtel plot to a businessman who used the Popular Party to collect commissions began from practically the same moment when the case broke in 2009. Some of these manoeuvres, in the field of judicial investigation, are public. Others, due to the pressure suffered by the investigators and their bosses, led to dismissals, although the police and justice officials who suffered them are still silent. The espionage of Bárcenas went further and included the alleged commission of crimes, ordered from the very nucleus of the Government of Mariano Rajoy with the same purpose of sabotaging the judicial investigation. The investigation of the case reveals how the Popular Party did not hesitate to resort to the Cloacas del Estado, a somewhat vague name that the summary of the Villarejo case is helping to outline…’.

From El Español here: ‘The PSOE asks that the "current PP" be held accountable for the 'Kitchen operation'. Party spokesperson Adriana Lastra has demanded explanations from Pablo Casado about his knowledge as a member of the party leadership at that time’. From La Vanguardia here (Wednesday): ‘In the event that the legal services give the go-ahead, the PSOE will promote with Unidas Podemos a government investigation into the "dirty war" of the PP’.

An interview by El Mundo here: ‘Pablo Casado, on the espionage against Bárcenas: "I was a deputy for Ávila then and had no responsibilities in the PP"’.

Courts:

The renovation of the constitutional body that governs all the Judiciary of Spain, such as courts and judges, the CGPJ, should occur every five years (Wiki). The renovation has been postponed, says elDiario.es here, for the second time since the signing of the Constitution in 1978. ‘The president of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) has described the non-renewal by the Congress of Deputies and the Senate of the organ of "government of the judges" as a "serious anomaly", when almost two years have passed after the renewal should have occurred’. The effect is, of course, to keep the judiciary under the control of the conservatives.

A list of Vox deputies and their various brushes with the law.

Unidas Podemos meanwhile insists that it is a permanent victim of pointless politically-inspired denuncias, which it calls ‘lawfare’, here.

Media:

‘The Council of Europe issues media freedom alert over UK government blacklisting of investigative journalists. The formal warning comes as government claims environmental protesters are a threat to press freedom’. The Independent reports here.


News-outlets need to find a recipe to survive. Advertising is down and copy-sales are also falling. These days, we have a wealth of choice on the Internet to find our news, plus the service of aggregators (including BoT). Of the leading Spanish dailies, La Vanguardia is a good bet, with all of its content available to read freely. El País allows ten free articles a month (its various sections, including El País in English, remain open). El Mundo has special ‘premium’ pages. See, it’s unlikely that customers will pay to read just one title – unless there’s a favourite columnist they can’t resist – because, after all, the news is the news. And it’ll be in another news-site for free, anyway.
For aggregators, there’s a small problem, since even if we pay the monthly subscription, we can’t pass the item along to our readers, because they’ll hit the pay-wall. But, as above, there are plenty of other news-providers.

El País ‘claims 110,000 subscribers after launching digital subscription model in May’ here. Media-tics puts the figure for El País subscribers at a more modest 60,000 here.

Ecology:

From The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): ‘The environmental impacts of tourism’, (2001) here.


‘There are believed to be a million illegal boreholes in Spain, used to irrigate agricultural zones. The country’s water crisis and illegal water extraction is having fatal consequences, not only for the environment’. A video from Deutsch Welle (in English) called ‘Illegal Wells: Spain's water problem’ is here.

Various:

‘The clamorous gaffe of the Valencian PP during the debate on health management in the Valencian parliament has become popular during the weekend: the popular deputy José Juan Zaplana waving the photo of a poster hanging in the 'Alicante' Health Centre that complains that they are missing nine out of sixteen doctors there. It turns out that this centre is not in the Valencian Community but in Fuenlabrada, Madrid, and it is the PP regional leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso whom he is (was) trashing’ (A press note from El Español).

The end of puticlubs? Pedro Sánchez says in an RTVE interview that the intention of the Government is that prostitution will be abolished (Video).

El Mundo has an article on the life of the great magician Juan Tamariz here. Tamariz is awfully good fun, as this video from John Fisher's 'The Best of Magic' shows.

Facua, the consumers association, compares the 90 mobile phone rates with unlimited calls offered by 25 companies. ‘In offers with similar conditions, the differences reach 129%. With data starting at 20Gb, the lowest prices are offered by Xenet, Virgin, Finetwork and Global’.

‘Having a single glass of wine a day makes you fat and cause damage. Obesity and metabolic alterations increase with habitual alcohol consumption even at levels considered "moderate".’ El Español reaches for the tonic water here.

The Americans now admit that ‘there was radiation’ in the Palomares (Almería) incident in January 1966. More content here from the Air Force Times (December 2019) ‘Court rules vets exposed to radiation from 1966 nuke disaster can sue for benefits’.  The official notice from the US Department of Veterans Affairs titled ‘Aircraft Collision Cleanup at Palomares, Spain’ is here.

El Huff Post here with ‘23 things that young people don’t know about Franco’.

The story of the cataclysmic Lisbon 8.5 earthquake in 1755 is told at Hakai Magazine here.

Molly at Piccavey has an interesting article on the cost of living in Granada here.

See Spain:

From Think Spain here: ‘The quiet life: Seven coastal towns with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants’. One mentioned, Agua Amarga (Almería), we can recommend as a pretty place, full in the summer and dead in the winter.

From Eye on Spain here: ‘Great cycling routes in Spain. As summer comes to an end and autumn is just around the corner, it is time to share some of the best cycling routes around Spain for those who fancy pedalling a little and enjoying the fantastic temperatures that are gradually falling as the days pass, making a long cycle ride that much more enjoyable…’.

‘One of the most curious fortifications of the Middle Ages is located three kilometres from Palma de Mallorca. Bellver Castle is located on a hill 112 meters high, overlooking the bay and much of the island. It is peculiar because it is the only one in Spain and the oldest in Europe to have a circular plan, together with four large towers oriented towards the four cardinal points…’. Item from La Vanguardia here.

Finally:

A reader sends us this.

THE TIE EXPERIENCE  ONLINE APPOINTMENT APPLICATION

The points about travel and the ability to use the TIE as a photographic form of ID were the two key factors in making my decision to obtain the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero. Also, my green 'Certificado' had become embarrassingly tatty and was due for renewal for appearance purposes anyway.

I did not use a Gestor or Lawyer, but was helped by friends with good Spanish. This was only necessary for help in completing the two forms: the Modelo EX23 and the Modelo 790 (012).

I visited the site:
https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/index.html

I found this process quite easy and was offered three appointment possibilities. I had applied online on the 10th August and selected my appointment (cita) for the 28th August and at a time that suited me. I printed off the Appointment paper that included the Appointment Reference, the address of the office in Alicante, the time of the appointment and even the table (mesa) at which I would be processed.

I completed both forms, Modelo EX 23 and Modelo 790 Codigo 012 while on the site and printed them off for signing.  It is only the original printed-off copies of both these forms that will work at the police office; something to do with each form being unique. I made copies of both forms but 'presented' only the original copies.

COMPLETING THE FORMS ONLINE:

a. Modelo EX 23.
This form is relatively easy. Most of Box 1) is self-explanatory but:
In the 1) 'DATOS DEL SOLITANTE' section: 'Sexo' is either 'H' for hombre (Male) or 'M' for mujer (Female).
'Estado civil':  S = Single, C = married, V = widowed, D = Divorced, S = Separated.
Parts 2) and 3) do not need completing
Part 4).  Tick/X: (at 4.1) 'RENOVACION DE TARJETA' and (at 4.2): 'RESIDENCIA PERMANTE CON TARJETA DE FAMILIAR DE NACIONAL DEL REINO UNIDO'.
With the exception of the date and below it the 'FIRMA DEL SOLICITANTE' (signature), nothing else needs to be completed.

b. Modelo 790 Codigo 012. The first part of the form is self-explanatory.  Then:

'AUTOLIQUIDACION'. Tick/X: 'Principal'
'Datos de la Autoliquidación Principal si es complementaria:' 'Num. Justificante' and 'Importe'.  You do not touch these, numbers are entered automatically in the 'Num Justification:' boxes. The 'Importe' box remains blank.
'Tramitación de autorizaciones para la prórroga de la estancia en España'. Tick/X: 'Certificado de registro de residentes comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano'. This is low on the left hand side of the page.
'Ingreso' (bottom right-hand corner of the page) will automatically show, in 'Importe Euros', 12.00.
'Codigo IBAN de la cuenta:' Enter bank details.
There is no need to complete any other parts of this form.
The complete document is 4 pages and on the bottom corner of the first 3 pages is a box: 'Declarante' with a 'Firma' for the signature. I signed only the first page. I was not invited to sign more when presenting the documents.
The Modelo 790 has to be taken to and receive a stamp of proof of payment (12 euros) from the bank. This part of the overall process was quick and easy too. My bank had already had experience with this form.
I obtained ID photos from my local photographic shop and this was straightforward.  The staff there knew exactly what was required.

DOCUMENTS I BROUGHT TO THE APPOINTMENT

Proof of my appointment
Completed EX23 form
Modelo 790 and the payment receipt with the paragraph “Certificado de registro de residentes comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano” marked.
Passport + photocopy (of the details and photo page)
Original Residencia Certificate + photocopy
Photo (ID size)

*See BP notes below
[Certificado de Empadronamiento (Padrón Certificate) is not needed IF your current address is the same as that shown on the municipal register.   If not, you will need a valid Padrón Certificate (i.e. no more than 3 months old) *

THE APPOINTMENT (The Alicante office is Oficina de Extranjeria, Calle de la Ebanistería 4, Alicante)

On arrival, although there was a small queue and because I was less than 15 minutes before my appointment, I went straight into the building.  The use of a hand sanitizer was compulsory. Then the brief security check included an airport-like x-ray machine (for my briefcase) and a walk-through body scan. I then turned left and went into the large waiting room where I drew a ticket from the appropriate and obvious machine, similar to those used in banks, supermarkets and other organisations. I think I remember punching into it the code on my appointment slip. I sat down to observe the large TV screen on which the call-forward numbers were projected.  Almost immediately I was called. There were clear room and table numbers to indicate to where I must proceed.
The staff member behind the screen at my appointed table was extremely pleasant and, having checked my appointment paper, dealt with my documents quickly and efficiently.  She had sufficient English for me to communicate easily. She asked me for my documentation in her own order of requirement and all were satisfactory.  Once all my documents had been vetted, she then took fingerprints of my two index fingers.  I understand that others have had more than one finger fingerprinted.
Finally, she concluded the process by giving me an appointment paper, 'RESGUARDO DE SOLICITUD O RENOVACION DE TARJETA DE EXTRANJERO', to collect my TIE.  She emphasised that this will NOT be before 3 weeks have elapsed.
Although I had arrived only 5 minutes before my appointed time, my processing was completed in about 20 minutes.

Notes:
1. I heard that another applicant was asked for his Padrón Certificate, even though he had never changed address. Luckily, he did have it with him, but unfortunately he did not enquire why he was asked for it. Perhaps, it is handy to have with you anyway? – just in case!
And do not forget photocopy everything!! And make sure the photocopies are acceptable quality – (numbers or letters not chopped off, for example)
2. The address you put on your EX23 (assuming you have not moved and nothing has changed) should be exactly the same as that shown on your green A4 residence certificate or its equivalent credit-sized card.
3. Give yourself plenty of time to get there – arrive the recommended 15 minutes before the appointment. DO NOT MISS YOUR APPOINTMENT TIME, otherwise you will have to go through the whole process again to get another appointment.