Are the European foreigners leaving... or staying? Are there more of us or less? Can you trust the official numbers handled by the Authorities as ‘Gospel’? Of course, no one knows the answers to any of these except for the last question. The National Institute of Statistics (the INE) provides an exhaustively detailed (and hopelessly wrong) number of foreign residents by adding up the information found on the town hall census (the padrón). Here is the information, by nationality, for January 2018. There are, for example, 240,934 Britons registered in Spain... and 673,017 Romanians.
A local foreign women’s group in Benitatxell is led by Margaret Hales. She tells the Levante newspaper that “I don't think the statistics fully reflect the truth. Foreign retirees are not returning to our countries. What happens is that many are reluctant to register”. She makes the point that many pensioners spend six months in Spain and the other six in their own country of origin, perhaps renting out their property while they are away. They and many others like to ‘keep under the radar’.
Then there’s Calpe. The latest data from the INE put the population at 20,804 inhabitants. In the last year, it has ‘grown’ (or perhaps ‘discovered’) another 1,213 residents. The town hall claims, however, that between 40,000 and 45,000 people live in the municipality for more than seven months a year...’.
All these numbers and these doubts mean little to the Ministry of the Interior, whose job it is to look out for the foreign residents who invest in this country – buying a house, a car and spending regular sums – generally sent from abroad – in the local shops and restaurants. Perhaps we need a little less talk of catching us on the (apparently illegal) Article 720 world-wide wealth declaration, and a little more in making our life easier – whether with a proper ID card or in resolving the issue of the British votes in May 2018’s municipal election.
An interesting essay from Mark Stücklin at Spanish Property Insight looks at the ‘Costa del Sol building boom déjà vu as investors encourage over-supply’. Here.
The University of Alicante is hosting the IV Congreso Internacional de Turismo Residencial on September 13, 14 and 15 this year. Those interested should apply here.
Nexotur reckons that we could see over 86 million foreign tourists in 2018. Plus all the home-grown ones heading for their summer holidays...
‘Valencia joins the fight against holiday rentals. The Mediterranean region is introducing new measures to tackle the rise of tourist apartments’. Headline from El País in English.
Unemployment has now fallen again after the small rise for the first quarter of 2018. Figures at VozPópuli show a rise in employment of 86,683 for April.
The budget for Education is the lowest since 1995, says El Mundo here. Health has also taken a hit. The percentage values for education are just 3.7% of the national budget while Salud falls to 5.6%.
While we are seeing some economies in the budgets this year, military spending is noticeably up. Indeed, the 7,600 million euros for the Ministry of Defence for 2018 has already been adjusted upwards by an extra 600 million euros. El Boletin has the story here.
El Mundo says that the increase in the price of petrol (thanks in part to the recent change in policy by the Americans towards Iran) will mean an extra burden of at least 8,000 million euros to the Spanish economy this year.
‘Ciudadanos (written as Cs) makes the most of the impact of the PP while the left lose ground’. The story comes from Público. ‘According to the latest CIS opinion poll, Mariano Rajoy's party would remain as the largest party, although it would lose 2.3 points compared to February's figure, achieving 24% of public support, its worst result since 1996. Albert Rivera's formation would rise to 22.4%; the PSOE would become the third force with 22%, and Podemos and its confluences would rise to 19.6%, gaining six tenths over the last barometer. The new parties are rising, while the old guard continues in free fall...’. El País also notes the move away from the traditional parties here.
Following from the surprise video of Cristina Cifuentes shoplifting – a video obviously kept in someone’s bottom drawer for the right moment – the head office of the Partido Popular in Calle Génova, Madrid, is understandable nervous about what might be kept by rivals under lock and key for a rainy day (one reads, for example, of Jordi Pujol’s little black book). Where will it all end?
El Español claims that the PP ‘manipulated’ the social networks to bring about a fall in the support for Pedro Sánchez in the 2015 elections. An army of ‘Twitters’ were allegedly employed with public funds to butcher the candidate and his party. The story here.
Cristine Cifuentes has now given up all political posts and, as such, now no longer enjoys parliamentary immunity. Says El Diario: the prosecutors are circling...
In Spain, there are currently 37 British councillors. Will they be able to return in the May 2018 municipal elections? VozPópuli asks the question here.
From The Olive Press: ‘Gibraltar has been named the fourth most polluted part of the UK (sic!). It joins more than 40 towns and cities across the country which are at or have exceeded air pollution limits set by the World Health Organization. In a new report by the WHO, data shows 31 areas have fine particle air pollution levels above 10 micrograms per cubic metre, with another 15 at that limit...’.
From BBC News: ‘The tiny British territory of Gibraltar has the harshest anti-abortion laws anywhere in Europe - the penalty for breaching the law is life imprisonment. But with Brexit looming and the Irish abortion referendum just weeks away, campaigners are hoping for change...’.
From The Local: ‘A 'No deal' Brexit could leave British pensioners in Spain reliant on NHS’. The story here.
La Comarca comes along to a meeting given by the mayor of Arboleas to consider what is to be dome post-Brexit (58% of the population of this Almerian town is British). It appears that the town hall will be setting up ‘assemblies’ to allow the future disenfranchised Britons the right to wield some influence in the town hall. ‘...For the mayor hosting the meeting, Cristóbal García, "the English vecinos have some concerns about how the Brexit will affect their citizenship rights, since if the break-up is completed in the worst terms, the law will treat them under the same conditions as those citizens who live with us but who come from countries outside the European Union. In the case of Arboleas, we are working on the creation of Local Assemblies, so that residents of British origin do not lose their voice (there are currently two British councillors in the Council of Arboleas) and the assemblies would become the institutional channel through which their concerns are channelled,"...’.
The Olive Press: Explaining Brexit to a Dutch couple in a chance encounter in a bar in Spain...
‘Brexit was supposed to be the French language’s chance at a comeback. For a brief moment after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, Francophones in Paris and Brussels allowed themselves to believe that French would regain its historical standing as Europe’s language of diplomacy. Instead, perhaps paradoxically, the opposite is taking place...’. From Politico here. (Thanks John!)
The Housing Sector: Sales
by Andrew Brociner
We have been looking at the housing sector and have seen that prices seem to have slightly increased, but that there are important differences between regions. This week, we continue examining the data and look at housing sales.
If we look at the total number of houses sold nationally, we see that there has been an increase lately.
From an average of 34,000 units sold per month in 2016, we have gone to 39,000 in 2017. There has been an increase of 15% nationally over the last year, even though for most of the period we have been in some sort of range of 30,000 – 40,000 although we are off the lows of some years ago.
There are quite a few provinces with an increase in sales.
Madrid has increased sales by 19% over 2016 and Barcelona by 13%.
Alicante has increased sales by 17% over 2016, Malaga 14%, and Valencia 21%.
The Canarias has seen an increase in sales by 10% since 2016. The Baleares has increased sales by 15%. Almería has surely not broken out of its range – it is where it has been for years.
The picture from sales is quite encouraging, with many areas having picked up at least 10% and with a national average which has increased by 15%. This increase in sales, however, has not significantly translated into an increase in prices, as we have seen in the previous issues. There have been very few provinces, notably Madrid and Barcelona, with a significant increase in price. Many others have not really followed suit, despite what we can see in sales.
‘...In the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2018* (here), Spain loses two places, now ranking 31st out of 180 countries. The report notes that the journalists were collateral victims of the conflict between the central government and the Catalan government, created by the illegal referendum of October 1 and the unilateral declaration of independence...’. Spain’s poor showing this year, says La Vanguardia, is down to manipulations by both the Catalonian and national media principally regarding the political situation in the north-eastern region. *Germany by the way is 15th, and the UK is 40th!
VerTele offers a number of examples of ‘manipulation’ by the Spanish news programs from the RTVE, and here shows a graphic of time spent in proportion on reporting our four major political parties on the Telediario.
‘El País and other European media outlets from the LENA alliance debate how to combat fake news’. Headline for a story with video on El País and its scrupulous adherence to the impartial facts – regardless of pressure from editors, politicians and corporate owners!
El Español has the weather forecast, by region, for the next hundred years. It’s going to be hot.
Endesa made an advert about contamination. Then they thought better about it and removed the clip from view. The advert says that it’s a false claim that carbon is the leading cause of climate change. Hmmm. Endesa of course produces more CO2 than any other company in Spain. Greenpeace has a copy of the ad here.
‘The Plataforma Solar de Almería, dependent on the CIEMAT (a Govt funded energy research program), is the research centre at the forefront of R&D in Europe. In the desert of Tabernas, near where the famous spaghetti western films were shot, is the largest research centre for concentrated solar energy in Europe. And it’s dying through the usual blend of bad politics... As early as November 2017, the PSA chiefs resigned and cuts in research staff were announced. But how did we get to this point? Here’s what has happened: the research groups, partially funded from Brussels, had to deal with the freezing of funds due to the Madrid government-driven spending restrictions. That’s right: they receive funds from the European Commission that they cannot use, even though their use would not affect in any way the Spanish national budget...’. The story comes from Nergiza here. There’s an interesting presentation video about the centre here.
A list of ex-politicians now on the boards of various power companies might help explain the above. From El Confidencial here.
Supermarket products that look healthy but aren't. Vegetable drinks, 'zero' jams, margarines, muesli, veggie-burgers and low-fat yogurts... are sold as if they were beneficial to the body, but nutritionists recommend staying away from them... From El País here.
From The Local comes an interesting article on the large bull-breeding estates, las dehesas: ‘"Here all animals are born and live free until they die," says Victorino Martin, pointing proudly to the herds of fighting bulls grazing by the Tagus River on a famous breeding farm in Spain...’.
Wednesday was El Día de Europa. Here’s an editorial from El País: ‘If nothing else is done, on 29 March 2019 the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, which is unprecedented because a Member State has never before ceased to belong to the Community project. We have discovered that the European project is not irreversible. Above all else, the Brexit is a mistake of historic dimensions, which is already marking the current momentum of the EU and the consequences of which will dearly cost both the Europeans and the British...’. The article asks if the EU itself, with its various problems, issues, threats and pressures, could break asunder... The piece comes from Esteban González Pons, the senior PP member in the EU parliament and vice-president of the European People’s Party.
Welcome to the AVE train station of O Páramo (Lugo). The village of O Páramo (pop. 1,500) doesn’t have much going for it – and the train never stops there. Ever. Perhaps because a high-speed train loses a lot of time slowing down, stopping, loading, taking off again. ‘Not a soul uses the train’, admits the mayor. The story in El País here.
Do you like horchata, that refreshing drink from Valencia? The main ingredient is chufa – tiger-nut’ (a kind of tuber). From El Salto Diario comes: ‘The biggest tiger-nut seller asks for the censorship of a documentary film. Tigernuts Traders, the world's largest importer of the tuber, denounces the director and the two co-scriptwriters of the documentary ‘Tigernut, (La patria de las mujeres íntegras)’ in which the harsh conditions of the tiger-nut workers in Africa are shown. The defendants have been subjected to personal pressure and have been threatened with prosecution by documentary film festival organizers if they screen the film...’. Here’s the trailer for the film.
The bar scene can be so noisy at night that some citizens from Murcia created an original protest – they took their beds outside last Saturday to sleep (or try to, anyway) in the street!
On May 26th, Móstoles is to install the first ‘hammockodrome’ of the country to claim the People’s right to be lazy. The residents of this town in Madrid have woven hammocks to "teach young people that there are times when we have the right to be lazy with nothing but nature at our side". Item from Antena3 here.
The Renfe monopoly has been broken, as Arriva (Deutsche Bahn) gets permission to open a rail-link between La Coruña and Oporto in Portugal. The story at El Diario here.
An eye-catching story: ‘An army man awarded by ex-President José María Aznar calls for a fight against the Left from the Franco Foundation. Retired Lieutenant General Emilio Pérez Alamán,, accuses Podemos, IU, PSOE, ERC and Compromís of wanting to subvert "the social and legal order" and calls for "alertness" to respond to this "threat" with "appropriate means at the moment"...’. Público has the story.
From Eye on Spain: ‘Morella is an extraordinary example of a Gothic town and has the designation of 'Place of Cultural Interest' and is well worth a visit if you are in the area...’.
The tourist season can now be said to be officially open...
Business over Tapas May 10 2018 Nº 256
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
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