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
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January 30 2020 Nº 335
Rather than concern ourselves with the Brexit troubles (there’ll be time enough to do that shortly), coastal home-owners in Spain (British or otherwise) must now look to the skies. The storm called Gloria visited us recently and left havoc along the beaches of the Mediterranean. One mayor of a Costa Blanca town is talking of not repairing the beach promenade as it will, he says, only get chewed up again by the next one. But if the beaches are washed away, or the sea rises a few centimetres, or increasingly habitual storms take away the sand and the beach-huts, what about the Ley de Costas, the peculiar coastal law that states that the playa belongs to everyone?
‘The Spanish Coastal Law (ley de costas 1988) defines a public domain area along the coast and a further zone where special restrictions apply to private ownership. The aim is to make the whole length of the coastline accessible to the public and to defend the coast against erosion and excessive urbanisation…’ says The Ibizan here. The idea is sound enough – to stop the wealthy or the hotel chains from putting up signs saying ‘private beach’, but the law also refers to houses which are close to the sea. They are seen as ‘lease-hold’ by the State (and the State wants them and will get them back in 98% of the legal cases mounted against it), and they may be used, normally without any major repair, for thirty years from official notification. A reform in the law from 2013 to grant extensions of 75 years was passed by the PP government, but so far, has not been tested.
As the shore moves inexorably inland, for the reasons stated above, a process known as climigration ensues, where societies must move their entire communities elsewhere. Not perhaps happening in Spain – apart from the Ebro Delta – but a worrisome sign of the future. Thus the Ley de Costas moves with it, and as El Confidencial warns, ‘The unprecedented series of storms leaves thousands of houses on the coast open to the risk of expropriation’. The rule is that the (PP’s 2013) law considers in the public domain land that is within the limit marked by the highest waves of five storms over the last five years. Since 2017, the Mediterranean has already lived four ‘gota frias’ (now known as una ‘Depresión Aislada en Niveles Altos’ (DANA). One more heavy storm, and many apartment blocks, homes and businesses will be potentially open to expropriation by the State.
It’s no secret that the Mediterranean coast is heavily built up, with Málaga, Barcelona and Valencia having urbanised over 60% of their share, and it falls to our friends the ecologists to threaten the unspeakable: ‘We can’t call to demolish everything, but some things will have to go’ says a spokesperson for Ecologistas en Acción. Experts in ‘natural risk’ from the Official College of Geologists say the same ‘…to deconstruct the coastline to facilitate the natural reconstruction of the beaches as a measure to avoid future catastrophes such as the one generated by Storm Gloria’.
The Olive Press asks (with video) ‘Did Climate Change cause Storm Gloria?’
Or is it, perhaps, just a bad patch we’re going through.
House-sales in Spain fall again strongly after the brief good-news from October. Reuters reports. ‘The number of home sales in Spain during November 2019 was 9.3% lower than the one registered a year earlier, given the political uncertainty and the recent entry into force of a new mortgage law’. Rentals are up by 35% from ten years ago says Idealista.
Spanish Property Insight looks at the issue of the Government’s meddling in the ‘amnesty’ of ‘illegal homes’ in Andalucía here ‘Madrid determined to prolong the illegal building chaos in rural Andalucía, trapping elderly expats in homes they can’t sell’. Mark Stücklin says that ‘At the heart of the matter lie badly-drafted town planning laws inviting chaos and corruption. You can safely buy and sell property in Andalucía, but you do need to be aware of the risks, and get good help’.
Over in Ibiza, there a stone hut for rent at 1,200€ per month, one year up front! See it here.
From Emigrate.co.uk comes a better deal: ‘Expat investors offered Spanish ghost villages for free’. It says that ‘…according to Spain’s National Statistics office, some 2,900 such abandoned villages are scattered across the country…’.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development has reported favourably the reprogramming of the General Urban Plan (PGOU) of Barbate (Cádiz) agreeing that there will be no significant effects on the environment, when the plan is to urbanize no less than 1,642,239 m2 of coastal land of ‘high ecological value’ and to build 2,488 new homes in a shrinking municipality. The Plan includes the urbanization of 200,000 m2 of the famous pine forest of Barbate. The story is at Ecologistas en Acción.
From TVE on YouTube, some home-owners from Denia worry about the encroachment of the sea towards their property and the possible fall-out from the Ley de Costas. Here on YouTube is a fly-by video of the damage at Denia’s Playa Les Deveses.
From El País: ‘Villages that die, villages which are reborn’. It looks at two pueblos with a very different story here. ‘While Yebes (Guadalajara) has quadrupled its population since 2009, San Fulgencio (Alicante) is the town that has lost the most inhabitants. This is the story of both sides of the demographic change in Spain’. In ten years, San Fulgencio has lost 35% of its population, which now stands at 7,855 (possibly down in part to tightening up the padrón, San Fulgencio being a foreigners’ town). One resident of the pueblo blames the youth, for moving to find better lives in the city. Another blames the Brits: ‘…According to the INE data of 2018, they account for more than 50% of the population of San Fulgencio, whereas Spaniards do not reach 30% of the census. «Since Brexit began,» says Josefina, «they are leaving, because it is seen that Spain is no longer so affordable.» «First they invaded us, and now they leave.»…’.
‘How might Brexit change the taxes British expats and property owners have to pay in Spain?’ Spanish Property Insight provides a legal viewpoint from Del Canto Chambers.
‘Unemployment fell by 112,400 people in 2019, 3.4% less than in 2018, registering its seventh consecutive annual decline. This drop is the smallest since 2013, when unemployment fell by 85,400 people. The fall in unemployment was four times less in 2019 compared with 2018. The jobless rate stood at 13.78% at end-2019, a percentage which is six tenths lower than 2018 and its lowest level in eleven years. The total number of unemployed closed the year at 3,191,900 people, according to data published by the Survey of Active Population (EPA) on Tuesday…’. Item from The Corner here.
Good old, er, Bankia. From February 23rd: ‘…To avoid having to pay commissions – six euros per month is the ‘standard’ -, Bankia customers (BKIA) must have a wage-packet equal to or greater than 700 euros per month or a pension -or unemployment- for an amount equal to or greater than 400 euros, in addition to one of the following conditions: two purchases per month with credit cards – there is no minimum established -, an insurance premium (home, car, health, life and accidents and deaths ) of at least 135 euros; or 30,000 euros in investment funds, individual pension plans or savings insurance…’. Valencia Plaza reports.
The Banco Santander and the BBVA are looking at charging similar commissions according to El Confidencial here.
‘Bankinter offers to take its larger clients to Luxembourg against the threats from economic policies by Podemos’: an item found at La Información here.
The Vox party received major funding from The National Council of Resistance of Iran (wiki), based in Paris. This includes a million euros in 2013 and, as here, eight months of wages for two leaders of the group (as to why?, there are no ready answers…). One of the Vox leaders, Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, has now admitted to receiving some aid from ‘Persian exiles’ in 2014. The item doesn’t appear to have made the headlines in the ‘serious press’ says Público here. As the humorist ‘tweeter’ Gerardo Tecé says ‘Do you remember when all the big newspapers released the fake news that Podemos was financed by Iran, Venezuela and Mordor? Well, you won’t believe it, but today they have all lost the golden opportunity to report that Vox was funded by an Iranian terror group’.
From The Huff Post (with video) here ‘How Spain’s Far-Right is exploiting a local political fight to start a culture war. Homophobic Franco nostalgists are using the controversy over Catalonia’s 2017 independence vote to polarize what was once a beacon of tolerance in Europe’. A write-up of the party’s activities and program follow.
The Murcian regional government has decided to sign into law the Parental Pin introduced by Vox. Meanwhile, Vox has dropped the motion for a Parental Pin in another stronghold of theirs – El Ejido (Almería).
‘Catalonia’s parliament has stripped the head of the region’s pro-independence government of his rights as a regional lawmaker, angering supporters who scuffled with police outside the assembly. The parliament’s speaker, Roger Torrent, said the assembly in Barcelona had to comply with a Spanish court ruling against regional leader Quim Torra to ensure future votes are not deemed invalid, but said he would seek ways to overturn the decision. Torra will now be unable to vote in parliament but will remain head of the Catalan government, despite opposition parties’ demands that he be removed from the post, Torrent said…’. More at The Guardian here. Pedro Sánchez will meet Quim Torra in Barcelona on February 6th. Torra announced on Wednesday that Catalonia will go to the polls after the 2020 budgets are approved (a process due to take two or three months).
A proposal to cut the tension between Madrid and Barcelona arrives from Manuel Valls – to make Barcelona the second capital of Spain. El País reports: ‘The City Council of Barcelona approved on Wednesday a proposal from the Barcelona municipal group pel Canvi led by Manuel Valls in which he urges the government of Mayor Ada Colau to establish the foundations of a new stage of institutional relations with the Spanish Government…’.
From El País in English here ‘…Oriol Junqueras and five other politicians were transferred early on Tuesday morning from two prisons in Catalonia to speak in the Catalonian parliament, an exercise which is being viewed by anti-independence parties there as a platform for pro-secessionist propaganda…’.
‘Don’t let them mess with the waters of the Canary Islands’. Ángel Víctor Torres, the president of the island government, has alerted the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, over the Moroccan plans to annex Canarian waters in its new border delimitation. Last week, Morocco approved two laws that conflict with International Law and that directly affect Spain by overlapping with the waters that Spain also claims. The reason lies in the wealth below the surface: both fish and minerals. ABC reports here. Spain will take the matter to the UN if it becomes necessary, says El Confidencial here.
Brexit, midnight Friday January 31st:
‘Boris Johnson has formally signed the EU withdrawal agreement, smiling as he described it as a “fantastic moment” for the country. His enthusiasm came in sharp contrast to the sombre tone of EU officials, who earlier added their signatures to the document before it crossed the Channel…’. Item from The Guardian here.
In a dire video reportage, Channel 4 asks ‘Will Brits who migrated to Spain stay post-Brexit?’
El Español brings us ‘The 47 years of (un)love between the EU and the United Kingdom: a rapid chronology. The British have always maintained an ambivalent relationship with Brussels: support for the single market but suspicion towards political integration’.
‘Yes, life in Spain will become more complicated but I’m backing Brexit’. An opinion piece from The Local here begins ‘Tim Appleton, who has lived in Madrid for 15 years knows his life will be made more difficult with Brexit but has written a book backing Britain’s divorce from the EU. Here he explains why he can enjoy the benefits of EU membership but still want the EU to come to an end’.
The cyber newspaper OKDiario was created by political concerns to fight the rise of the Podemos using, as often as not, fabricated news. A study into the site, and its flamboyant editor Eduardo Inda, is at ¿Quíen Financia la Cloaca? here. Spanish Revolution also takes a swing (well, twelve swings) at Inda here.
From La Opinión de Murcia comes ‘A devastating report by the German television on the Mar Menor. The ZDF chain reviews in seven minutes the links of agriculture in the Campo de Cartagena with the degradation of the lagoon’. The article includes the video in German.
The Murcian coastline affected by regular floods here. ‘No one wants to live here anymore’.
From El País in English here: ‘In photos: How climate change is affecting Spain. Heat-waves, violent storms and drought are already taking their toll on the country, according to a report by Greenpeace’.
The Alhorín el Grande (Málaga) sewage solution is becoming extreme; with ‘the equivalent of 10,000 Olympic swimming pools full of fecal water’ now beginning to run off into agricultural land says Diario Sur here.
From La Vanguardia here: ‘Fifteen countries have called on Spain to guarantee the right to expression and protest, during a round of talks at the UN on human rights. These include Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Iceland and Germany, who say they are concerned about the «restrictions» on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The Government defends itself by justifying the interventions “when a meeting loses its peaceful character”…’.
Spain has the best health system in Europe and ranks nº3 in the world. Redacción Médica makes the claim here.
How Spain is preparing for the Coronavirus here.
The gambling industry is hitting back at the Unidas Podemos – inspired plans to stiffen up the laws on the ‘games saloons’. In a recent statement, the politicians were given to understand that the gaming industry has both the most expensive lawyers and the deepest pockets. El Boletín has the story here.
The ‘Parental Pin’ controversy took a turn this week when Unidas Podemos wondered if ‘flat-earthers’ were allowed to stop their children from learning that the world is round-o.
The latest population numbers for Spain have now been released by the INE. There are 250,392 Brits on the padrón in Spain (as of Jan 1st 2019). The Germans come in at 111,911. Total foreigners in Spain are 5,036,878 (the numbers here). Statista has completely different (but equally exact) figures here, with 287,292 Brits and 138,642 Germans. It gives USA citizens at 47,209 and the Dutch at 49,727. In contrast to the above, the City of Granada has a population of 232,208 souls (wiki). La Voz de Almería looks at the towns with the most foreigners by percentage and comes up with Torre del Burgo (Guadalajara) at 90.7% foreign (mainly Bulgarian). Second is Partaloa (Almería) at 69% followed by Rojales (Alicante) 68.7% and Arboleas (Almería) at 66.7% (official figures via the padrón register).
A supposed son of Julio Iglesias (he of the thousand beddings) has sold his putative inheritance to a group of Mexican investors. The paternity trial continues… The story here.
Ticbeat lists the best places to order second-hand books in Spanish here.
In April 1928 ‘el Huracán de Chocholita’ hit the coast of Almería. ‘Drowned fishermen were being washed up on the shores for weeks afterwards’ says a report on the storm which was named after the Chocholita steamship which sank during the tempest with a loss of eight lives.
‘The professor at the University of Cambridge, Elizabeth Drayson, believes that Spanish textbooks that address the time of Al Andalus should be reviewed to be more faithful to reality. After eight centuries of Arab governance in the Iberian Peninsula, she considers that it is more fair to speak of civil war between brothers than of a territorial ‘re-conquest’. Salam Plan has the story here.
The Spanish customs hooked your slippers or your kimono? Spain’s notorious red tape is much in evidence among the customs department, handled by Correos, and just in 2015 alone, around 490,000 packages were abandoned by their owners, as we read here.
Bullfight tickets produced eight times more taxes in IVA than Spanish-made movies in 2018, says Cultoro here.
‘Picasso’s lost paradise: how a corner of Catalonia brought inspiration. As a new Picasso exhibition opens at London’s Royal Academy, we visit Horta de Sant Joan, the hilltop village that the artist said taught him ‘everything’’. An article from The Guardian here.
From Eye on Spain here: ‘The Lobo Park in Antequera (Málaga) is an unspoilt nature and wildlife park in the heart of Andalucía; where you may look at a wolf eye to eye for the first time in your life!’
Pencil in to your diary a visit to the Castillo de Belmonte (Cuenca) to see the World Championships of Medieval Combat between April 30th and May 3rd!
British in Europe is launching a gofundme appeal to help us keep going over the next crucial eleven months. I have been in the BiE Steering Team for three years and I have never had the privilege to work with such dedicated, competent and talented people. As well as covering the expenses of lobbying in Brussels, London and elsewhere, BiE is asking for money to pay for some of the work of some of the team over the coming months.
So please, donate as much as you can and share, share and share with friends and family.
With best wishes,
Re BoT‘s link to the Fitur-Mojácar article.
Over 30 years ago, on our first visit to Fitur, Spain’s biggest tourism trade fair, we came across an attractive stand for a place called Mojácar. We were plied with wine and leaflets and left with a colourful poster which graced our wall for years.
The place looked too good to be true, but later that year, we booked a week’s holiday there. We have been going back once a year ever since.
Of course the place has changed and it is hard to say for the better. And the beautiful bougainvillea in the poster was long ago butchered.
I am always reminded of the song:
«They called it paradise, I don’t know why. Call some place paradise – kiss it goodbye….»
Grammys 2020: Rosalía wins with her album El Mal Querer. YouTube here.
Her song Malamente with lyrics on YouTube here.
Enviado por José Antonio Sierra