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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 February 6 2020            Nº 336

Editorial: 

The authorities are worried about the moribund villages of the interior – where the young are leaving for the cities and the old are forgotten, as the bank closes, the farmacia becomes a weekly van-delivery and the main excitement is when a foreigner buys a house there. While many villages are, as it were, drying up (and, to be sure, whatever solutions are found by the various provincial councillors for ‘la Lucha Contra la Despoblación y Turismo’  (Ejem), it won’t include repopulating with foreigners), many have grown in the past two decades, often, precisely, because of foreign immigrants. An interactive map of Spain from El País shows growth and decline of all municipalities, as well as foreign resident numbers, in the past twenty years here. The article says that foreign immigrants have brought population growth in 550 Spanish municipalities. Meanwhile, the local and provincial councils will continue to promote rural hotels, el ecoturismo and interesting ruins… 

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Tourism:

A video from Catalan News here: ‘Catalonia received 19.3 million visitors last year, 23.1% of the total number of tourists in Spain’.

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Finance:

Unemployment was up in January. From El País in English: ‘Sluggish January sees 244,000 jobs destroyed in Spain. Registered unemployment rose by 90,248, making this the worst month of January since 2014’. 

A useful article here for those on the minimum wage (or less) from La Sexta: ‘If you earn 13,300 euros a year thanks to the rise in the minimum wage you are not required to fill out a tax declaration. Although the Salario Mínimo Interprofesional has increased to 13,300 euros gross per year, the minimum to make the declaration has passed to 14,000 euros…’.

Most of Spain’s 3,269,089 self-employed, or autónomos, pay the minimum possible in monthly social security dues – the sum of 286.10€ a pop. This supposes a theoretical income of 944.40€ per month. A few autónomos earn less than this, but most earn more. Why hasn’t any government grabbed this issue by the horns, asks El Confidencial here, to have the self-employed pay a percentage of their annual earning in social security payment? The answer – apparently – is that most of them would have to pay more and there’s no government that is prepared to go down that route…. 

A giant private trust fund called Medical Properties Trust (wiki) is looking around in Madrid at the regional public health and its opportunities says Kaos en la Red here. 

‘The Portuguese move to increase taxes on expat pensioners just makes Spain look bad in comparison’, says Spanish Property Insight here.

Following a number of demonstrations from the farming sector over the low prices paid for their fruit and veg (including one in Madrid on Wednesday), Pedro Sánchez has met with large distributors to insist on a solution.  The prices the supermarkets pay the farmers are well-illustrated here. An extreme case – broccoli for 0.45€ kilo to the farmer and sold to the customer for 4.22€ kilo. Yet, supermarkets are ever cheaper than general stores for fresh produce. In all, stick to the local markets for the best prices and freshest goods… 

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Politics:

‘Spain’s King Felipe VI on Monday presided the official opening of the new political term, addressing a Congress of Deputies partly occupied by the first coalition government since the 1930s, and where separatist lawmakers were conspicuously absent. “Spain cannot be about opposing one another. Spain must belong to everyone and be for everyone,” said the monarch to the lawmakers who won seats at the repeat general election of November 10, 2019…’. Item from El País in English here. 

The latest CIS poll gives good marks to the PSOE with a rise to 30.4%, the PP down to 19.9%, the UP up to 13.8%, Vox down to 13.4% and C’s down slightly at 6.5%. The right-wing press has little time for the CIS, which is seen as a socialist poll… 

The mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, thinks that Spain and Portugal should join up in a kind of politico-economic union similar to Benelux. It’s an idea which has been mooted several times before (wiki) as it would give a stronger voice in both Europe and Iberoamérica. The item comes from La Voz de Galicia here. 

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Gibraltar:

From The Guardian here: ‘Brexit trade talks: EU to back Spain over Gibraltar claims. Territory’s economy at risk unless UK reaches agreement with Madrid over ownership’.

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Corruption:

La Cadena Ser reports that ‘The PP Government spent 500,000 euros in reserved funds to protect the party from the case of its ‘black funds’.  The SER has seen information still classified as secret by the Government that reveals that the Ministry of Interior of Jorge Fernández Díaz allocated that amount between 2013 and 2015 to the political police, to spy on Luis Bárcenas (the erstwhile PP party treasurer) and destroy evidence that compromised the PP’. 

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Brexit: 

ElDiario.es reports from Alicante here: ‘The far from bitter ‘Brexitday’ of British residents in Spain: «Life will remain more or less the same the day after». Equanimity, accompanied in some cases of joy and in others of sadness by the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, reigns in Alicante where 70,000 residents of the old empire live’. From Candy Scobling at El Huff Post, a sadder tale: ‘I am British, I live in Spain and Brexit has destroyed my identity. After a decade living in several European countries, Brexit makes me feel as if a part of me had been taken away. And I can’t do anything about it’.

From Spanish Property Insight here. ‘Going, going, gone. So that’s it, the UK has finally left the EU after 47 years. Freedom say some, paradise lost say others, and many in the middle who aren’t really sure. Only time will tell. What happens now? There is an official EU-wide transition period until the end of the year in which British citizens can continue in Europe as before, during which time the UK has to negotiate the new terms of its relationship with the EU. So now we have to wait and see what sort of hard or soft Brexit gets thrashed out this year…’. 

Gestión looks at a single issue here with: ‘The Brexit virus’. It says ‘Public Health is a job opportunity for thousands of Spaniards in the United Kingdom and welfare insurance for thousands of Britons in Spain. Foreign residents of both countries fear that Brexit could destroy their life project’.

In the UK, support for Brexit in the 2016 referendum was 52% (wiki). In Spain, according to a piece in The Olive Press, British residents in favour of Brexit would have probably been about 25% – many Brits not being allowed or able to vote. In Gibraltar, Brexit supporters polled around 4% (wiki). Back in Spain with another English-language freebie, the EWN polled its readers last week and found that 81% of them were in favour of Brexit, which must be, in some way, an alarming reflection on the readership of that periodical. 

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Media: 

Público examines the stories the leading Spanish media failed to report, starting with the Vox financing from an exile Iranian group. 

The future of print newspapers is bleak, says this article in Media-Tics. ‘…The immobility of Spanish publishers is suicidal. Last year we saw a fresh collapse. The data at the end of the year is overwhelming and marks the road to extinction, but no one seems to react in line with this terrifying picture. In 2007, the four main nationals sold 1.15 million copies (El País selling 450,000 daily), last year, they managed just over 300,000 between them. Traditional advertising is heavily discounted. The gigantic audiences of the web editions are of little use. The sports press (AS, Marca and so on) is falling even faster…’. By the end of this year, no newspaper will be printing over 100,000 copies daily, says El Independiente here. In the local cafés across Spain, there’s usually a copy of the provincial daily and a sports paper to read (the owners say they pay a subscription). This means that the OJD distribution figures are bolstered by these sales (or perhaps complimentary copies), while the EGM readership is consequently much higher per copy. 

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Ecology: 

Returning to last week’s BoT editorial on the ley de las costas (here), we find an interview in El País with the Ministra de Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico who says “The modification of the Law of the Coast of 2013 was irresponsible”. Teresa Ribera has gone from minister to vice president for the ‘Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge’, a mega-department with environmental, energy and re-population skills’. 

Storks are no longer migrating to North Africa says El País here. They have found year-round food locally as one can appreciate from the photograph.

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Various:

Motorbike Magazine (Esp) says that classic cars and motorbikes will be paying higher taxes from next year. 

‘Israel and the U.S. have been discussing a deal that would see the U.S. recognize Moroccan sovereignty in the occupied Western Sahara and Morocco take steps to normalize relations with Israel, according to Israeli and U.S. sources…’. Item from Axios here. 

From The New York Times here: ‘A major Spanish hotel chain said Wednesday that the U.S. State Department informed the CEO he is barred from entering the United States because of his company’s business interests in Cuba. Meliá Hotels International S.A. said in a statement it believes more than 50 other companies have received similar notifications, but didn’t name any…’. 

From Germany’s NDR, ‘Opus Dei – die heilige Mafia?here: A report on Spain’s powerful Opus Dei. ‘At the time of Franco, the Opus Dei was at the height of its power, but then the ultraconservative sect became quieter. The various cases of corruption that currently shock the country and in which members of Opus Dei are involved (even in the high political spheres) demonstrate the influence that «la Obra» still has in Spain; with 35,000 members it is the European country with the most followers’. 

Hugh Grosvenor is 29 years old, is worth 12,000 million euros and is the largest landowner in the United Kingdom says El País here. ‘…In Spain, the Duke of Westminster has land and investments, including La Garganta, an exclusive preserve between Ciudad Real and Córdoba with 15,000 hectares and fifty workers. In addition, a few months ago he invested through the Grosvenor family group around 200 million in four real estate projects in Madrid, one in the Salamanca district and three in Chamberí, and intends to allocate another 100 million to the city…’. 

‘The European Commission moves to eliminate one and two cent coins as production ‘costs more’ than value’, says The Olive Press here. 

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See Spain:

España Fascinante brings us ‘Five spectacular squares in Spanish towns’ with photographs. These are the main square in Peñaranda de Duero (Burgos), the Plaza Mayor of Aínsa (Huesca), the Plaza Jaume I de Monells (Girona), the Plaza Coso de Peñafiel (Valladolid) and the Plaza Mayor de La Alberca (Salamanca). 

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Letters:

Lenox, BoT 335 ended up in my Gmail spam folder, just so you know.

Mark

Check your ‘Spam’ if the BoT doesn’t arrive by Thursday mornings (then check the headlines…). 

We have been contacted by worried Britons who are not aware that the WA covers future residence, healthcare and Social Security for those legally resident before the end of this year. From British in Europe, a number of articles beginning with ‘The Withdrawal Agreement: What is it, what does it do and who does it cover?’

Michael Harris

Dear friend,

With all due respect, my name is Barr. John De Sousa, personal attorney to my late client, Mr,J,B Lenox, I am contacting you on behalf of my deceased client who is a national of your country who was assassinated in 2013, with his wife and their only child. Since the funds was left in open beneficiary status and there is no living relative to claim the funds, I am contacting you to stand as the beneficiary/next of kin to his deposit,$4.5 Million USD ) which he made with a bank here before his sudden death. After successful transfer of funds to your account, we shall share it 50/50%.Get back to me for more details.

Yours sincerely

Barrister John De Sousa Esq

(I tell you, if this pans out, I’m moving to Las Vegas!)

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Finally:

Julio Iglesias with Stevie Wonder – My Love at YouTube here. And, having set the mood, here’s Julio with Willie Nelson. 

 

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra