Business over Tapas: October 22 2020 

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners

by Lenox Napier

Editorial:

Besides that sprinkling of Europeans looking to get their residence papers, or the new TIE card, the majority of those people in the queue outside the Police extranjería are from other parts of the planet.

Notably in regions with agriculture workers, like Almería, Cádiz and Murcia, or builders (Madrid and Catalonia).

The system is ‘first at the door’, but it doesn’t always work like that. You see, the sign outside says ‘Full, come back tomorrow’. Even if you got there precisely at 8.00am.

Of course, there are several ways to skin a cat. In Almería, one needs to pay some handy fellow 200 euros to get in. In Madrid, it’s the same, and in Catalonia (of course) it’ll cost you 300€.

Who shares this money? Well, it’s clear that someone in authority would have to turn a blind eye. But, hey, foreigners don’t have the vote, much less representation or a champion…

Maybe one can find a ‘reservation’ through some cheesy agency or with Wallapop (here) or Mil Anuncios (here and here). Antena3 runs a segment about this (found on YouTube here).

It goes without saying that the foreigners, los extranjeros, are sick of this. ‘Migrant groups protest at a police station in Barcelona due to the lack of appointments to regularize their situation’ says 20 Minutos here. If they don’t get their NIE renewed in time, it says, they could lose it altogether.

From Para Inmigrantes here, we read (Oct 2019) ‘Reservations in «re-sale» for appointments at the Immigration office.  Obtaining an appointment at Immigration is of vital importance for immigrants. However, getting a ‘number’ has been almost impossible for a while now. The damage for those interested is major: «Without an appointment, there are no papers. Without papers there is no formal job, no bank account, no rent. There is no tranquillity». It says that many people resort to locutorios (the small phone agencies that are found in working-class areas) where they can pay up to 300€ for an assignment.

El Mundo looks at the other issues for third-worlders: ‘…Gathering the necessary paperwork at the place of origin, receiving them after a few months and preparing them (or translating them, if it is not a Hispanic country) can cost more than 1,000 euros. In addition, there are the bribes that some officials of those countries demand for their role, say citizens of Pakistan and Senegal. The whole effort can be wasted if the supplicant can’t get a date and time over at Extranjería before the paperwork is timed out…’.

El País (July 11 2020) also reports on this here: ‘The collapse of the police stations blocks the procedures of foreign citizens. With thousands of pending procedures and the limited capacity to manage them, the pre-appointment business is booming again and they are sold in offices, call centres or Wallapop for up to 200 euros…’.

Noticias de Trabajo says that the Ministry of the Interior is aware of this situation and it adds: ‘…Both the National Police and the Ministry of the Interior are keen to discover how there could be certain people who know ahead of time the moment in which the appointments in Immigration are due to be offered to the public…’.

Between the Covid making appointments harder, and the long queues, and now the mafia, it’s a struggle to get one’s bureaucratic obligations resolved these days…

Tourism:

From Think Spain here: ‘’Proportional and predictable’: Spain praises EU’s travel ‘colour system’. Tourism authorities in Spain have praised the EU’s new regional system of ‘colours’ indicating contagion levels to help travellers make decisions before setting off, and has called for PCR tests at departure point and arrival instead of random quarantining…’.

From Hosteltur here: ‘The Alliance for Tourism Excellence (Exceltur) foresees that the Spanish tourism sector will close the year down by 106,159 million euros from last year, a figure that represents a drop of 69.6%, falling back to the 1995 levels, as reported this week…’.

FITUR – the Madrid tourist fair usually held in January – has been postponed until May.

Seniors:

‘Foreign retirees aged 55 or over living in Spain for all or part of the year are invited to complete the 2020 European Observatory on Gerontomigration academic online survey by clicking here (British version), here  (French version) or here (German version). The research is financed by the European Union and the Junta de Andalucía. We encourage its diffusion as widely as possible among would-be participants’.

Finance:

‘The budget plan sent by the Government of Spain to Brussels last Thursday announces tax increases with a budgetary impact of 7,000 million euros next year and another 2,000 million in 2021. These changes include an increase in personal income tax (IRPF), the Tax on Companies and the IVA … although what they will consist of is not detailed…’. Hacienda reckons on a boost of 4,200 million from the increases. La Cadena Ser has more.

The Government is to raise the IVA on sugary drinks from 10% to 21%, says El País here. ‘The Budget for 2021 that the Executive has sent to Brussels includes new fiscal measures to increase its annual collection by 6,847 million euros’. The reason is, no doubt, to improve our healthy lifestyle.

‘The Government is forecasting a 0.9% revaluation in public pensions in 2021, following the increase already applied this year…’. Item from The Corner here.

‘Spain’s long-awaited new legislation covering home-working employees has come into force, and answers some of the questions businesses and their staff had been asking – but remains fairly flexible overall. Key to all aspects of the new law is that a signed agreement covering all eventualities is required between firm and worker, and that nothing can be ‘imposed’ in either direction…’. Item from Think Spain here.

El Periódico says that Spanish banks penalize smaller customers with more commissions.

Politics:

The leader of the far-right Vox, Santiago Abascal, is the candidate proposed by his party for president, in the event that the Spanish parliament were to endorse his motion of confidence (‘moción de censura’) as debated this midweek (Wednesday and Thursday).

Since the chances of that happening are precisely nil, why is he bothering?

A few well-aimed darts at Pedro Sánchez?

To make Pablo Iglesias squirm?

No. The reason is to show that his party is the Champion of the Right, embarrassing and weakening Pablo Casado’s Partido Popular. However the PP votes, whether ‘yes’, ‘no’, or abstain (they say they wouldn’t vote ‘yes’ understandably), means nothing to the final count, but it means a lot to the right-wing supporters that make up a goodly amount of Spain’s electorate.

An editorial in El Español makes the point: ‘…Abascal…’, we read, ‘does not seek so much to wear down a numerically unassailable president, as to shift the axis of the opposition towards extremism. His true objective is to present Casado as a weak and powerless leader and offer himself as the strong man, the «iron surgeon» that Spain needs to combat congenital evil, the moral degradation of this government of «thugs and murderers» (as we heard in a recent parliamentary outburst)…’. It’s a sort of politics à la Trump.

More on the Moción de Censura on the BoT Facebook page here.

El Español provides its latest survey, and says that Vox is growing slightly at the expense of the PP.

Several deputies are moving to the centre, says El Español here, and joining Ciudadanos. The latest is Malena Contestí, who was a deputy for Vox in the Balearics. She joins Jesús Cuadrado (Ex-PSOE for Zamora) and José Miguel Saval (regional PP from Valencia).

Santiago Abascal has just bought a home with a mortgage of 736,000€. Some jokes here.

Catalonia:

The Catalonian government has decreed an up to 50% cut in the rental-price for certain bars and restaurants, according to their accounts and activity during the current crisis.

Europe:

From Spiegel International here: ‘A Looming Disaster Brexit Threatens to Become the Messiest of Messy Divorces. Britain will be leaving the EU common market at the end of the year and there are still important issues to be hammered out. Both sides could be facing a disaster in the form of huge traffic jams, job losses and rising prices’.

The European Network for Economic and Fiscal Policy Research  policy brief (pdf) here: ‘EU27 and the UK: Product Dependencies and the Implications of Brexit’.

Obtaining the TIE card (via The Local) notes ‘…is also the issue of the lack of TIE appointments being made available, which is particularly worrying for those who have never registered rather than for residents. “Those who are desperately trying to get their TIEs for the first time and benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement are very stressed because appointments are few and far between, says Ann Hernández from  Brexpats in Spain…’.

The Coronavirus:

‘The Spanish government is considering a nationwide state of alarm to implement a curfew. Health Minister Salvador Illa confirmed on Tuesday the possibility was being studied, but stressed it would require the support of the regions and opposition parties such as the PP’. The headline comes from El País in English here. Spain contemplates a ‘toque de queda’. From El Español here: «Toque de Queda» (severe limit to movement plus a curfew): what it is, how it is approved, where it has already been implemented and what is the background to it?’

Covid deaths are running at 120 a day in Spain since October 1st.  Spain, at 1,005,295 contagions, has now passed (Wednesday) the terrible figure of one million cases.

A useful map of the cities currently in lockdown or with severe limits to the public is here.

La Vanguardia looks at the opinion of the foreign media on Spain: ‘Correspondents in Madrid highlight political polarization and territorial structure as causes of both the spread of the virus and the ongoing economic collapse’.

‘Covid-19 in Spain: a predictable storm?’ The Lancet considers the fallout: ‘Spain was one of the most affected countries during the first wave of Covid-19 (March to June), and it has now been hit hard again by a second wave of Covid-19 infections. While the reasons behind this poor outcome are still to be fully understood, Spain’s Covid-19 crisis has magnified weaknesses in some parts of the health system and revealed complexities in the politics that shape the country…’. The article is covered by El País in English here, with the title: ‘The Lancet criticizes Spain’s management of the coronavirus crisis. The prestigious scientific publication says that ‘some regional authorities were probably too fast at reopening and too slow at implementing an efficient track-and-trace system’. They mean Madrid.

Catalonia hospitals are ‘at the limit’ says La Vanguardia here

‘The Government of Spain claims that it cannot lower the IVA on face-masks during the pandemic caused by Covid-19 because Europe does not allow it. However, the European Commission has confirmed to Maldita.es that «there is no intention of launching infringement procedures if this IVA reduction were to take place» (as it has, for example, in Portugal) and that this has been communicated to the Member States…’.

Courts:

And why shouldn’t the judge investigating the heinous Pablo Iglesias case of the stolen phone chip (by the political police in 2015) have a jolly dinner with several public figures associated with both Vox and indeed the Opus Dei?

Cadena Ser with the strongest commentary yet: ‘…The PP profited, to the hilt, with the dirty and shameful Gürtel plot. The word comes from the Supreme Court’.

Media:

From PRNoticias here: ‘If the audiovisual media lost in one year the same as it did between 2008 and 2013 in advertising, then the printed media has done even worse. Advertising sales are down by 30% and distribution-points and copy-sales are also diminishing.  This has caused publishers to increase lay-offs, which have every look of becoming permanent. The article in part blames ‘Social Media and Google for unfair competition’ (sic).

‘Is it possible to sell to the public a very harsh sentence from the Gürtel Inquiry that condemns the PP and former ministers, former deputies, former senators, former mayors, former councillors, former advisors, along with other positions and relatives of the PP, in some cases with up to 40 years in prison, as a success for the PP? Well, the right-wing press in this country has accepted the challenge…’. Público has a bitter laugh here.

An investigation at El Salto Diario looks at the 37 million dollar budget spent by Israel in the past two and a half years to persuade foreign journalists and politicians to boycott the BDS Movement (Wiki). ‘…In the Spanish context, José María Aznar, Pablo Casado and Isabel Díaz Ayuso must be placed in this line. The former president of the PP government is the honorary president of the Friends of Israel Initiative foundation (Wiki), while Pablo Casado was one of the four men who officially registered this body. For her part, Isabel Díaz Ayuso periodically publishes tweets in favour of Israel and for a time she had written «friend of Israel» in her Twitter profile header…’.

Pluto TV (Wiki) begins operations in Spain with 40 free channels including serials and films, starting from the beginning of November says Xataka here.

Ecology:

Hunters like to let fly at their prey, which sometimes turns out to be a mistake, as so far this year (to September 6), says elDiario.es here, they have managed to shoot 605 persons in Spain, killing no less than 51 of them.

From Diario de Huelva here: ‘Scandal in Doñana: an internal network that helped steal water and block sanctions has been discovered’.

Ecoembes, the garbage recycling company, is not as green as it claims, says El Salto here.

The Junta de Andalucía is to begin work on demolishing the Hotel Algarrobico next year. How far they’ll get can be surmised from the Andalusian president’s words on Tuesday: ‘…in the budgets there will be an item to finance the first part of the demolition of the Algarrobico, in turn, the first step for the subsequent environmental restoration of the area’. The story at La Voz de Almería here.  The 21 storey ruin is only part of the stalled urbanisation which, eventually, will be returned at great cost to become, once again, an unnoticed stretch of rubble, weeds and scree.  La Voz del Sur reminds us that the same regional government recently gave the go-ahead for a four star hotel in the Cabo de Gata – in the same natural park at the Algarrobico!

Various:

The Monarchist, Catholic ABC (paywall) is not certain whether a planned meeting between Pedro Sánchez and Pope Francis this coming Saturday at the Vatican is A Good Idea. Why on earth not?

From Magnet here (with video): ‘The Murcia Project. 50km north of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and in the empty district of Al-Jawan, on an area of more than five million square meters, a gigantic real estate and architectural project is being built: a kind of mini-capital in the middle of the desert. The «Murcia Project» is the name of this real estate development. The construction is inspired by the Spanish city but only very tangentially with replicas such as the Moneo Building (here) or by making a river cross its territory in half (like the Río Guadalentín), although in this case the river is going to be artificial (why? Because they can, of course)…’.

From El Órden Mundial here comes a map of Spain’s best cheeses (and another, with Europe’s finest cheeses as well).

‘The Prado Museum’s first post-lockdown show reignites debate over misogyny. An exhibition exploring how women have been treated in the art world runs into criticism’ says The Guardian here.

From Reach here: ‘Nicknamed “El Justiciero” (“The Avenger”), King Alfonso XI of Spain was the only European monarch to succumb to the Black Death. He died while he was in what is now known as La Linea de la Concepción in an attempt to re-conquer the Rock from Muslim rule during the Second Siege of Gibraltar (1349–1350) – a battle he did not win, although he was able to take the Kingdom of Algeciras…’.

An axe, thought to be at least three quarters of a million years old, has been discovered in the Cueva Negra, near Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia) say archaeologists from the University of Murcia. The story is at 20Minutos here. This relic becomes Europe’s oldest axe!

Colin Davies recalls a wonderful article from John Carlin on why he loves Spain. The reason, says John, is simple – En España, se vive muy bien.

An article on the traditional desayuno describes breakfast in Spanish as ‘a must’. English is soooo fashionable; one has to add a choice expression here and there in Spanish text or indeed, in Spanish life. So much so, that 20Minutos has an article that’s, uh, trending, about this very subject. Its original title is: ‘Briefing, Call, CEOvocablos en inglés se imponen en el mundo de los negocios y desplazan a las palabras españolas’. More popular words apparently used in Spain (Gawd knows how they pronounce them): Workshop; Startup; Deadline; Feedback; Staff; Stock and, of course (an old favourite), Backstage.

See Spain:

A photo-visit to some Mozárabe churches, with Público here: ‘Mozarabic architecture is one of the most interesting on the peninsula. It began in the 10th century and there are many examples of our heritage within this style. The Muslim influence in the design of these temples is reflected, above all, in the horseshoe arches that characterize them…’.

Eye on Spain brings us ‘Ten places to Visit in Galicia’ here.

From Caminando por la Historia here: Cantavieja (Teruel) in images – the refuge city of both Templars and Carlists.

Finally:

Here’s something: Adam Ben Ezra (Wiki) plays Flamenco on YouTube here.

 

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Licenciado en Filosofía y Letras, Magisterio y Estudios en la Escuela Oficial de Periodismo de Madrid. Residente 40 años en Francia, Reino Unido e Irlanda como profesor de español. En Irlanda fundó el Centró Español de Documentación y el Instituto Cultural Español, actual Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. Asímismo, fue corresponsal de: Agencia EFE, Diario Informaciones, Carta de España, Crónicas de la Emigración, España Exterior, La Región Internacional y Escuela Española. Jubilado.

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