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

22/11/21. 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:

Of small interest to the Spanish – and indeed most foreign residents – is the sad plight of those Brits who own property in Spain which they use for long periods; generally over the winter. They are sometimes called in journalistic shorthand ‘Swallows’ and they are non-resident - having no TIE or green immigration-card, they aren’t on the local padrón and, much beyond sundry local impuestos, they continue to pay their taxes in the UK.

Things had gone well-enough for this group as long as they remembered to spend six months a year outside Spain, but with the arrival of Brexit, this changed to a movable 90 days in any 180 limit for the whole of the Schengen area (as it is for any other non-EU citizen).
Now, their plans must be rearranged, and the question comes to them – is it worth it to own a home in Spain that we can only use for three months during the winter season? After all, the whole point was to avoid the UK from October to Easter (Brrh!).
While most Europeans think -if anything- that they brought it upon themselves, the British press has taken them to heart.
From The Express (which has grave doubts about any and all Europeans anyway) to The EWN, with its baffling mix of cruise-ship’s news and British-abroad editorials (why won’t the natives kowtow to us?), we read that something must be done. From The Costa News, a rather more sober newspaper, we find in the letters page: ‘…One simple change in the Schengen rules could help so many smaller businesses. British (and European) tourists like to visit southern Spain for the winter. Many have even bought holiday homes or take the long trek south in their motorhomes – the counterpart of the American ‘Snow-birders’…’. It makes the point that ‘…The majority of holiday home owners and motor-homers are of retirement age and the warmer winter climes and relaxed lifestyle benefits their health and well-being. So – a boost to Spanish tourism and a reduction of the strain on the NHS’.
It all sounds logical enough – change the rule to allow Britons to stay longer: it’ll help the Spanish economy!
The Spanish authorities aren’t particularly bothered by what they see as the small economy of the foreign home-owners and sundry long-term visitors, and even less so by this particular subset. While tourism is a key attraction to Spain’s GDP – we have a minister, a budget, an agency, endless promotions abroad and the second-biggest tourist fair in the world (FITUR: January 19th – 22nd), foreign residents (who clearly spend more in Spain than tourists do and are here longer) are blithely unrepresented and ignored.
In a country where even the sheep are counted down to the last animal (there are 15,371,420 since you asked), they don’t even know how many homes are owned here by foreigners.
Thus the Swallows are ignored.
It’s a small issue after all.
But not entirely. We hear from The Independent that ‘Valencia’s regional president Ximo Puig has said the time limit should be extended’ and that ‘…the country’s industry, tourism and commerce minister, Reyes Maroto, has started assembling a “mobility” taskforce of Spanish and British embassy staff to find a joint solution to the restrictions’. Puig had also met with the Spanish ambassador to London while attending the British World Travel Market earlier this month. The Majorca Daily Bulletin ran a leader earlier this year titled ‘Fighting to resolve the 3-6 month trap for Britons in Spain. Bilateral agreements can be made, providing the will is there’. The article introduces ‘Andrew Hesselden, who has launched a number of campaigns to challenge and see that this is changed, at least in Spain…’.
One place to find Andrew and his supporters is on the 180 Days in Spain page on Facebook. Andrew says on the site ‘I estimate this issue probably affects more than 1.6 million British “part-year” residents that spend time (and money) in Spain each year…’.
So, not such a small issue after all.

Housing:

Where (and which) are the foreigners buying in Spain? El Mundo says that the Germans have now overtaken the British as the largest buying group (third quarter). A map of Spain shows us where the foreigners prefer to live. The British slump, says the paper, is down to Brexit, although in fact they are only just behind the Germans (10.4% to 9.9% total sales Q3). The sales-people are phlegmatic – the Germans, Dutch, French and Belgians are all buying more than before.

Presswire brings usWhere Can I Live launches their 2022 Moving to Spain Guide amidst surging British demand for Spanish homes’. The links are in the text.

20Minutos brings the pros and cons of prefabricated houses here: they are cheaper – and faster - to build, but maintenance costs are higher.

From The Guardian here: ‘If health and education are essential services in Spain, why not housing? A renters’ movement in Catalonia is saving families from eviction and trying to fill the gap left by the state’.

From The Olive Press here: ‘Homes built on unapproved land face new demolition threat in the Costa Blanca and Valencia areas of Spain’. The article says that a new Valencian agency ‘for the protection of the Territory’ will employ 35 people at their Elche headquarters from January and that their mission is 'to enforce land laws’ and that demolitions of homes on unapproved lands could begin forthwith.  The region used to fear the Land Grab, but now seems to be facing a version of the Andalusian demolitions for illegal homes (a subject which, post Helen and Len Prior and all -see here- was only recently largely resolved). Again, large numbers of houses could be involved (The Olive Press says that Valencia counts with anything up to 307,000 ‘irregular homes’).

Thanks to the pandemic, says La Vanguardia, the cost of building an apartment has risen by around 10% in the past year. Some items have gone up steeply – like aluminium (170%) and wood (now around 75% more expensive than before the crisis). Cement vigas are also up by 60%. A 95m2 flat could cost an extra 12,000€ to build says one architect.

Tourism:

‘A New Travel Authorisation for EU Visitors. Meet ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System - Coming in 2023’. Their page is here. From their site, we read that ‘Currently, there are approximately 60 countries whose citizens are permitted to enter the EU and Schengen member countries without the need to obtain a visa. These visitors are limited to three month stays for tourism, business or transit purposes’.

The Diario de Mallorca reports that a judge in Palma has ruled that airlines may not charge for a single cabin bag (in reference to a recent case brought against Ryanair).

Finance:

It’s hard to ‘let an employee go’ in Spain, as well as expensive. Thus, many employees are registered as part-timers, or on short contracts – both of which are open to abuse. The Government has tightened up the rules and as EPE says here, following increased work inspections, ‘the Ministry of Labour regularizes in just two weeks 82,000 ‘temporary contracts’ that have now been redefined as ‘permanent’’.  Meanwhile, those interns who have been at the same job in the Public Sector for five years will now be considered as permanent without having to pass any exams says La Vanguardia here.

‘Inflation rebounded to 5.4% in October due to the high cost of electricity. The annual rate is the highest level in almost 30 years’ says Levante here.

Think Spain brings us a full and useful article on ‘Cash and the law in Spain: A guide to payment methods, limits and what's legal’. We learn that, if it’s over 30€, the payer has the legal right to use a credit card. As noted elsewhere, cash limits out at 1,000€ per operation, as payments above this sum must show a record.

Politics:

The latest poll from the CIS gives the PSOE a lead of 6.7 points over the PP here.

The Otras Políticas event, organized in Valencia by the Valencian vice president Mónica Oltra last Saturday, brought together the most prominent political representatives of the left: Yolanda Díaz, Ada Colau, Mónica García and Fatima Hamed. El Huff Post says that ‘The five talked for two hours about their policy ideas, agreeing on the objectives, although without specifying any joint project’. Jordi Évole noted that ‘with this photo, the witch-hunt against Yolanda Díaz begins’. For example, a clip of the video with the five politicians posing in the street was manipulated by some news channels to include ‘boos’ from the crowds, says Maldita here. Ah well…

elDiario.es says that the PSOE are becoming a little concerned about the rise of Yolanda Diaz.

The future Spain will without doubt, says elDiario.es here, be run by a Díaz (Wiki looks at the history behind the appellation. It’s the 14th most common name en España). The two choices are either Isabel Díaz Ayuso or Yolanda Díaz. While they are both women, they are very different. One is far to the right, the other is far to the left. The article (elDiario.es is on the far-left) ends with: ‘Yolanda Díaz and Díaz Ayuso represent the two ways of understanding politics that will be faced by Spaniards in the coming years: public ownership versus privatization, care versus abandonment, understanding or confrontation, the people and the elites, fairness against cronyism, the collective project contrasted with the ego of excess, feminism or populism’. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere nearer the middle (and, no, we don’t mean the third Díaz in politics – the ex-president of Andalucía and gorgeous PSOE phenomenon the Senator Susana Díaz!).

Our favourite right-wing news-site is ECD (El Confidencial Digital: Wiki) and here it introduces us to a retired colonel, and president of la Asociación de Militares Españoles, who reckons there will be a civil war if they don’t get rid of Pedro Sánchez!

Europe:

An illuminating video on YouTube made by a camper-owner called ‘Staying in Europe for more than 90 days. The Schengen area and the 90-day rule’.  In the sixties, we would just cross over to Morocco (or Gibraltar) for the day and get a stamp in our passport. Franco was a bit more elastic in this respect than the current Eurocrats.

North Africa:

Rabat is building a fish-factory in Spanish waters, says El Confidencial here. The plan is to locate the piscifactoría off the Chafarinas Islands (three small islands under Spanish control located a mere 3.5kms off the Moroccan coast Wiki). El Confidencial has the story here. ECD says the Spanish government was warned months ago, and Europa Press reports that the Government primly says it has ‘no knowledge’ of the fish-farm.

Six months after the Ceuta crisis (when the children were all abruptly sent across the frontier into Spanish territory) and the hospital visit of the Polisario leader Brahim Ghali, the Moroccan ambassador has still not returned to Madrid says Europa Press here.

Algeria and Morocco have long been rivals and La Razón compares their armed forces in an article titled ‘Is War Inevitable?’ One can see why Morocco wanted American and Israeli support! Indeed, Morocco has just signed a deal with Israel to build a joint military base just to the south of Melilla says El Español here.

Health:

Pedro Sánchez announced on Wednesday afternoon that those over sixty together with all health workers will get a third vaccination shortly.

From El País in English here: ‘Coronavirus contagions in Spain accelerate, as incidence hits 82 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. With hospital admissions on an upward trend and infections jumping 67% in two weeks, some regions are considering new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19’. Spain seems to be reasonably low in its numbers of negacionistas, as the ABC reports from Seville: ‘Andalucía has some 113,000 anti-vaxers – that’s just 1.34% of the population’.

Following from last week’s editorial on the Spanish public health system, La Vanguardia, regarding waiting lists, says that currently, it is ‘121 days on average to be operated on and 75 days to be seen by a specialist’.

A collective of Andalusian doctors has labelled the new euthanasia laws (still yet to be recognised in the region) as ‘homicide’ says La Ser here.

Courts:

The new members of the Constitutional Court have been decided, although one of the Partido Popular’s candidates has raised more than a few left-wing eyebrows. Indeed, dismayed, a number of Government deputies broke ranks and voted against the deal.

A fine piece of double-speak from Pablo Iglesias at ctxt here on the subject of impartiality from the fine folk in the judicial robes. It prepares the reader for the video to follow below.

Pablo Iglesias: ‘El Lawfare anula uno de los fundamentos formales de la democracia, la independencia jurídica’. A short video here at Twitter (via Reddit). Does lawfare exist in Spain?, he asks rhetorically.

‘Vox has filed a complaint in Alicante against the councillors of Compromís, Natxo Bellido and Rafa Mas, and the municipal spokesman of Unides Podem, Xavier López, who accuses them of incitement to hatred, baselessly claiming that Vox is responsible for increasing attacks on homosexuals, women and immigrants’. ABC reports here.

From El País in English here: ‘Spanish government makes legal move that could see Franco-era crimes prosecuted’. An overturn of the amnesty which (wisely?) attempted to wipe over the crimes of the past.

Media:

Público says it is against censorship, period. An article from Carlos Sánchez Almeida, director of the Plataforma para la Libertad de Información.


A documentary film called Hechos Probados which deals with the excesses and zealotry of the Hacienda inspectors will never be shown on TV, says the director over the phone (amid strange buzzing sounds) to the journalist at El Debate here. Happily, you can see it on the Internet for a modest outlay here.

A documentary appears on RTVE (see it here) about José María Ruiz-Mateos (Wiki), the businessman who managed to create Rumasa, a holding of over 230 companies which employed 65,000 people until his peculiar brand of fraud, populism and media-manipulation brought him down with the Government of Felipe González expropriating his company back in 1983. The film deserves a wider audience says El Español here.

The ex-deputy of Unidas Podemos Alberto Rodríguez was the protagonist of the Salvados program broadcast on Sunday on La Sexta TV where Gonzo interviewed Rodríguez for almost an hour (some cuts from the interview here). Rodríguez was recently condemned by the Supreme Court as the author of a crime of assault on authority for, supposedly, kicking a national policeman during a demonstration in 2014’. Público recalls some of the Tweets over the kangaroo court-case. The Supreme Court has refused to reverse the sentence says 20Minutos here.

Ecology:

For those who are in the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ community, there’s always the popular magazine Jara y Sedal which, incidentally, finds itself very much beholden to Vox and the PP for their support for its readership. Ejem: ‘2,780 municipalities are going to say ‘no’ to the new animal protection law, says the PP’ here.


Various:

From La Sexta here: ‘The situation on the island of La Palma continues to be very complicated after 60 days of volcanic eruption. The lava continues to flow fast and fluid, confirming that the eruptive process is still active’. It’s not going to end yet.

It’s no secret that The Administration likes to use confusing and complicated web-designs and pages to befuddle Internet visitors. 72% of all official web-pages are ‘not clear’ and many people throw up their hands and give up the effort. elDiario.es says ‘Unfamiliar language is the worst element when dealing with administrative procedures according to a report, followed by usability –how easy or intuitive it is to move around a given website and get where one wants–, design that facilitates reading, and accessibility, in that order’. When you’re a foreigner… it can be even harder!

The Government is working on a partial repeal of the Law of Civil Security (aka Ley Mordaza) which gave the police extra powers (like the use of rubber bullets). ECD says that over 140,000 police, Guardia Civil and prison guards are against any tinkering with the law which ‘might leave the forces of order unprotected’ and they will join a major protest in Madrid on November 27th.

ECD says the average spend on groceries has risen since the pandemic started by 6.5%.

When you wanted to say one thing, but then almost say another. A ‘Whoops’ moment with Pablo Casado here.

From Catalan News here: ‘Spain sets new 2026 date for finishing Mediterranean coast train link’. Work on the AVE moves forward, slowly.

From The Guardian here: ‘Spain scraps visa requirement for UK touring musicians. Music industry welcomes move by Spanish government as ‘hugely welcome’ and a ‘big victory’’.

Spain’s first space rocket, the Miura I, will be ready for launch in 2022 says 20Minutos.

‘Alfonso XIII of Spain was “the most tone-deaf man I ever knew,” remembered Artur Rubinstein. “From the time he was seven, he was accompanied by a man assigned to nudge him whenever the national anthem was played.”’. Item from Futility Closet here.

The fly-swat remains an essential item in our household for a while to come. My article on being Bugged here.

The way customs is charging a fortune for every package that arrives from the UK, there's going to be a large fuss from the expats come Christmas in España.

See Spain:

Eye on Spain brings usLa Casa de las Cuatro Torres’ in Cádiz here. From the same site, but from the other end of Spain, here’s ‘A Fantastic Stop-off En Route To France – Olite (Navarra)’.

31 castles at Escapada Rural here. In reality, there are around 20,000 castles or castle ruins in Spain, but here are some of the best of them all.

Finally:

Selling some smoke. CGI Animated Short Film: "El Vendedor De Humo" by Jaime Maestro at Primer Frame on YouTube here. Cute.