Happy British Expats

For a number of years around 2018 – 2012 I conributed paid for columns to a number of the English Speaking Newspapers here in Spain: The Reader, The Sol Times, The Round Town News and The Euro Weekly News to name but four!

Reading through my notes for these columns, I was taken by a) how relevant many of them still are today, and b) I had no online record of them of my own.

So I have added the original submissions to this blog, so if you want to read them just search for expatarticles.

There are a LOT and I have no record of which were submitted to which paper so I have grouped them together into a series of short essays!

Happy British Expats

Not sure what made me laugh the most this week, the fact that a book has alleged that the King of Spain is a serial womaniser who once made a pass at Princess Diana while she was on holiday with Prince Charles, remains a ‘professional seducer’ who regular receives vitamin injections and anti-ageing treatments, and has not shared a bed with his wife for 35 years, or the survey claiming that Spain is where British expats are most happy.

The Lloyds TSB survey ranked Spain, Canada and Germany as the countries we British expats are happiest, based on cost of living and financial well being, although New Zealand ranked highest for quality of life and the United Arab Emirates as best for financial prospects: that will be the tax free bit then!

And, not only are we happiest in Spain, but overall Britsih expats are happier in their adopted countries than in the UK, which I can believe.

After careful consideration I have decided that the King of Spain gets my vote, not least because he appears to be the only story in Spain with an errr upward direction involved!

Heading in a downward direction this week in Spain: the birth rate with 230,537 babies born in Spain during the first six months of 2011, 1.1% fewer than during the same period a year earlier, continuing the fall in birth rate that began in 2009, and no doubt proof that the ongoing financial crisis is making people think twice about starting families.

Also in decline is life expectancy here in Spain as latest statistics show that life expectancy in Spain has fallen, not by much, but still breaking an upward trend which has lasted nearly half a century.
For men the life expectancy now stands at 78.87 years, while for women it is 84.82 according to the National Statistics Institute. That makes the average for the country 81.87, down 0.8 on 2010.

Sticking with downward trends, but this time an encouraging one, signs of investor confidence returning to Spain as the recent 10-year bonds auction attracted significantly lower yields, despite last week’s move by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade Spain’s debt by two notches and Moody’s forecast of a recession in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy.

And last but not least on the way down this week is Spain’s economy which has contracted in the fourth quarter of 2011 and is predicted to shrink 1.5% this year.

To think ……… this is the country where we are at our happiest!!!

On a far more positive note, and one that made me genuinely happy a flaming-horned bull trampled and fatally gored a man early Saturday during a festival in eastern Spain. Large balls of flaming wax are traditionally affixed to the beasts’ heads before they are let loose to rampage through squares and narrow streets in such festivals.

Well done to the bull I say!

And finally, one that should make us all smile, happy expats that we are, a seven year old that got his arm stuck in a vending machine for two hours said he didn’t suffer any pain because he was the ‘Incredible Hulk’ ….. which brings us back to the King of Spain.

That’s it for this week, have a happy one!

The Demise of Spanair

One can only hope that the Iberia pilots have watched the overnight demise of Spanair with a sense of shame at their recent strike actions. Spanair is the 15th Spanish airline to close down since 2000, and 2000 jobs are likely to be lost along with an additional 1300 at the ground maintenance company Newco.

Of interest to sad people like me is that the final notification of closure was release on social networking site Twitter : “Nos despedimos no sin antes ofrecer nuestras más sinceras disculpas a los afectados y agradecer la confianza depositada. A todos, gracias“.

In brief: thank you and goodbye!

Sticking with airline and airport for a while: remember the strikes last year regarding the proposed sale of a number of Spanish airports? The ones that resulted in the National Guard taking control, and drastic and severe penalties promised against the air traffic controllers. Well to date I can recall only a couple of minor fines being made, and the Transport Minister Ana Pastor announced last week that Spain will ditch a plan to privatise airports and come up with a new management model. Given gloomy economic conditions, especially in Europe, there was little chance of attracting a large number of bids for the airports, the transport minister acknowledged.

No details on the new ‘plan’ other than that it will allow for future inclusion of private investors: which seems a bit pointless to me! If the market conditions meant you couldn’t sell, why think that you can attract investment, unless of course you are giving huge equity percentages away for stupid prices!

The AENA have been busy this week as in addition to the above they have announced that our local airport, Almería, is parts of a large viability study by the government looking at loss making airports.

With debts of 110€ million, and drop of 35% in passenger traffic since 2008, Almería was on the list to be part privatised, but is now at risk of being closed as the government has confirmed that it will consider closing unnecessary or underperforming airports.

Back on terra firma the National Statistics Institute says Spain’s unemployment figures has surpassed the 5 million mark, with the jobless rate shooting up from 21.5 percent to 22.8 percent in the fourth quarter. With the highest level of unemployment out of the 17 Eurozone countries the Popular Party are going to have to have to look at labour reforms urgently.

If that wasn’t going to be tough enough Fitch have downgraded Spain’s credit rating to A, despite better performances of late on the bond market, influenced no doubt by the fact that the IMF has predicted two more years of recession, saying that Spain’s GDP will shrink by 1.7 per cent this year with a budget deficit of 6.8 per cent.

About the only positive news regards the economy was that the IMF has praised the substantial spending cuts and tax cuts adopted to date by the PP, but as we have seen above more, much more, is required.

All of which brings me to the new online utility that I read about on the Lloyds TSB International Web site which allows expats to compare living expenses in various cities across the world. Although it only looked at 50 major cities it was interesting to note that Spain’s two entries were, not surprisingly, Madrid and Barcelona. What was sup rising though was that they were ranked 35 and 46 respectively, putting to bed the myth that Spain is a cheap country to live in.

Next week I promise I will try and find some good news to comment on!

Enjoy your week and keep smiling ….

Same Old, Same Old

It is pretty hard going at the moment writing a weekly column about life here in Spain. Take this week for example: I promised last week that I would seek out positive news, so I thought at the same time I would look for a whole bunch of new stories.

Well good news and bad news: the bad news is that it is the same old roundabout as far as the news in Spain goes, the good news is that I looked so hard I found the needle in the haystack!

All the main stories this week that are worth any comment are all old stories: Spain has formally asked Britain to reopen talks over the sovereignty of Gibraltar, terrible crimes were committed during and after Spain’s 1936-39 civil war that no court has yet examined or judged, Spain’s opposition Socialist (PSOE) party have elected Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba as its secretary general replacing former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as party leader, and the United States is offering technical assistance to Spain to clean up land contaminated by radiation from undetonated nuclear bombs that accidentally fell on the area in 1966.

Actually the Gibraltar debate is interesting because it was held on Twitter, as UK Europe Minister David Lidington responded to calls from Spanish Foreign Minister José Garcia-Margallo to debate the rocks sovereignty via a couple of tweets:

“The UK will not enter into sovereignty arrangements or negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content”

“The UK’s sovereignty commitment to the people of Gibraltar is clear and unchanged: we will respect their wishes.”

So there you are Spain you have been told ….. or in this cases tweeted, so case closed!

I am actually interested in the Civil War story as well, not because they are trying to convict the people responsible for the torture and murder, but because they have put on trial the man that wanted to investigate them! Judge Garzón faces criminal charges that could suspend him from the bench for 20 years for defying an amnesty enacted in 1977 to smooth the transition to democracy. He counters that under international law, there can be no amnesty for crimes against humanity and that unsolved disappearances constitute a continuing crime.

Surprising one this as we all know that once under the carpet always under the carpet here in Spain.

While there is no surprise that Rubalcaba was elected, after all he is credited with coordinating the sustained legal and police battle that has brought Basque separatist group ETA to the point where it declared in October it had laid down its weapons for good. For a moment it looked like it might get a little interesting as the candidate he beat was Carme Chacon, a 40 year old female, who would have become the first leader of the PSOE party.

As I said …… not much changes in Spain!

Still not sure? In Seville nine local Police Officers have been charged with fraud after pocketing traffic fines, and in Valencia a 49 year old man has given himself up to police after reportedly stabbing his partner to death.

But, finally, some good news! A 61 year man in Sevilla has been charged with domestic animal abuse after he killed his neighbours dog, yet the farmers are still getting away with the murder and abuse of 250,000 Spanish Galgos a year!

As for us Expats, apparently the thing we miss most about home is the countryside, followed by the sense of humour and pubs, which I found truly amazing given how many English style bars there are in Spain. What did make me smile though was that it was expats living in Germany that missed the sense of humor the most!

Some good news and the headline of the week to end with: according to a Spanish survey the fry up may not be so bad for you after all, soloing as you use olive oil or sunflower oil.

And the headline story of the week: well to be honest there are two, the rising number of tattoo removals in Spain as people try to impress at job interviews, and that 40% of people that are run over in Spain are on zebra crossings at the time.

A More Mature Spain

Picking through the headlines for this weeks column I found a few that could indicate that Spain is finally getting it’s head out of the sand are starting to grow up!

The fact that Spain’s new conservative government has passed the labor market reforms that will be crucial to creating jobs to reduce Europe’s worst unemployment record and slowly restore confidence to the (almost) terminally ill economy should not be taken lightly.

By admitting that the changes are aimed at encouraging companies to hire young people, the long-term unemployed and people with dependents, the Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, has taken a huge risk implementing the changes which include open-ended contracts and tries to limit temporary ones that are very common in Spain and make the country’s workforce vulnerable to swings in economic growth.

The sense of maturity was reinforced by the frank admission from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that the current level of 23% unemployment will get worse throughout 2012, and the economy is heading towards a recession again.

The banks have also come over all grown up as well announcing they will set aside an additional 6.1€ billion to meet a new government demand for all banks to boost their buffers against troubled real estate assets. Banco Santander, Europe’s biggest bank by market capitalization, said it would make allowance for an extra 2.3€ billion buffer to meet the government requirement.

It could be argued that Spain has no choice over any of the above, and if they ever needed a Eurozone bailout the above would be nothing compared to the austerity cuts that would be imposed, but they did not need to stop the puentas the ‘bridge’ days between public holidays that if managed properly can extend the 36 legally mandated days off to a staggering 50 days off.

In one of several measures designed to boost productivity in a sagging economy, Spain’s unions and business associations have agreed to suppress three bridges by moving the holidays to Mondays. The two sides, which rarely agree on anything, say the bridges cost the Spanish economy hundreds of millions of euros in lost production, as they result in idle plants and half-empty offices.

On the other hand ………. appears that there is still a long way to go before Spain fully grows up!

As I write this Iberia have announced a further strike, canceling 121 flights, just as Air Nostrum have announced redundancies and Spanair as we know has gone pop.

Just up the coast from us Albox residents are once again steeling themselves for property demolitions as lawyers acting for the regional government (the Junta de Andalucía) successfully argued that the property risked provoking an urban nucleus. The revocation of the building licence was upheld and the retired couple were ordered to pay costs.

As predicted by many the new anti-smoking legislation which banned smoking in closed public spaces a year ago, has not had the expected effect on the number of smokers. The Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR), has presented a report, the first since the new regulations were introduced in December 2010, which shows that currently 17.65% of the Spanish population smokes, 0.5% more than their last report in 2007!

Not only are revenues down for the bars, cafes and restaurants across Spain, but this increased level of smoking isn’t putting cash into the governments coffers either as illegal imports now account for 7% to 8% of Spanish cigarette sales, compared with almost nothing a year ago, according to the country’s tobacconists association. In southern provinces such as Cadiz, Seville and Malaga, the proportion is 20 percent. Some reports claim that taxes from tobacco sales in Spain are down as much as 14% from 2011.

And finally: stupid story of the week goes to the headmistress of the Virgen de la Encina de Hoyo primary school in Manzanares who has decided to take meat off the menu to mark the beginning of Lent, proving that politics correctness isn’t just confined to the UK. ‘No surprise there’ award goes to the story that bankruptcies in Spain have increased in 2011 with one third of all bankruptcies being in the construction or property sector.

Tabloid headline of the week: Spain’s King Carlos ‘had an affair with Diana’

Bullfighting Back On TV

The economy dominated the news again this week in Spain with another recession becoming more likely by the day, a village in Cuenca accepting pesetas, and tens off thousands protesting the labour law reforms in Madrid.

The story that caught my attention the most though was that the Partido Popular supports the decision of TVE Spanish state television to show bullfighting on TV again. At the moment the broadcasting of bullfighting between 6am and 10pm, known as the hours of child protection, is prohibited, and as bullfights tend to be between these hours they aren’t shown on TV.

Apparently something called a Broadcast Stylebook has been drawn up by the Administrative Council of the TVE, and they have decided to omit the above conditions thus allowing bullfights to be shown on TV. The PP are drawing up legislation for Congress to approve at least 10 bullfights to be broadcast on TVE each season although broadcasts are said to be unlikely as TVE are having to feel assets to make ends meet and there is no money to broadcast the fights as the TV rights for the main ferias are expensive.

The economy though was the main story of the week again with data showing that output shrank to 0.3% in the final quarter of last year, causing stocks to tumble, and putting yet more pressure on the banking sector, not helped at all by the ongoing issues in Greece. Although the yield on sovereign debate declined and volumes were solid, the general consensus is that Spain is heading towards another recession at the end of the first quarter that is expected to last throughout 2012 and into 2013.

Sometime ago I was asked what I thought would happen to Spain and the Euro i.e. would Spain revert to the pesetas. Personally I don’t see that happening but at the time I said that I would allow people to use their old pesetas to stimulate some spending. As pesetas can still be exchanged at the Bank of Spain in Madrid my argument was that at least some money would start circulating again. Interesting then that businessmen in Villamayor de Santiago in Cuenca are now accepting pesetas once again. The town, which has a population of about 3,000, is governed by the Socialist Mayor, José Julián Fernández. Over the past month 29 shopkeepers in the locality have taken 1.25 million pesetas, (7,512 €) and they say the initiative has ‘saved the month’.

With tens of thousands taking to the streets recently to protest against the labour reforms, the government is finding itself between a rock and a hard placed seems, which I suspect is somewhat more comfortable than the government in Greece is feeling these days! Here in Spain the government is likely to be punished for delaying the budget announcement until April which just so happens to be after the March 25th regional elections. Blatant manipulation by the Spanish Government …….. no change there then!

The Other Side Of The Fence

As I write this I am sat in the UK digesting a Sunday Carvery and reading the first edition of The Sun on Sunday.

The Carvery was excellent, but at £9.49 not cheap, especially considering that it only included a main course. Starters and desert were extra, although you could visit the carver as many times as you wanted for extra vegetables, not for additional meat. Must be about 15 years since I last had a Carvery and back then you got starter, desert and as many trips back to the counter for meat etc as you wanted.

That said one plate was enough for all of us and it was certainly all exceptionally well cooked, and good quality. How did it compare to the ‘equivalent’ one plate Sunday Roast available in many a English Bar along the Costa’s? Well it was certainly more expensive, but I suspect made from better quality ingredients and with a wider range of vegetables on option. we all though the price was a little expensive and could have included a starter or a desert, but we had no complaints as far as the value went, and no regrets paying the price.

So better than I have encountered here in Spain quality wise, but more expensive. The most notable feature of the meal though was the amount of people that they served. The restaurant could hold 100 easily, we arrived at 1pm and it was already pretty full and my mate and I left about 6pm after watching the rugby over a ‘few’ pints and they were still going strong. They must have served 600 people at least during the day, and it was refreshing to be honest to be sat in a busy restaurant for a change!

As for The Sun on Sunday. It was horrible! Absolutely nothing like the News of the World content wise and the layout was just far too fussy and busy with loads of little text boxes and snippets of information all over the place. I did a bit of a survey of the people around me and they all agreed that it was just too messy to read, it was hard to stay focussed on a story with all the other bits and pieces on the pages.


Back in Spain then a few stories caught my eye:

Some good news for Malaga and Motril which are further down the coast to us as the government has derailed plans to bring the so-called Mediterranean Corridor inland through the Serrania de Ronda… and decided it should run along the coast. PP leader Mariano Rajoy has announced that the rail route should go from Algeciras to Almeria, via Malaga. The new proposal, which will cost 11.7€ billion, is now being taken to the EU for its final approval.

I had to smile at the story that Mijas police lost a fleeing fugitive because they couldn’t cough up the 3.20€ toll fee quickly enough. I have actually seen this happen when a police car with its blue light flashing has had to stop at the toll to pay to get through. Surely it is time to lift the charge on the police, fire and ambulance services.

The weather back in the UK was very mild and we even saw the sun, but they have had a pretty bad winter recently. Unlike Spain where this winter has been the driest for seventy years according to the State Meteorological Agency with only sixty litres per square metre of rain since December. The past three months surpasses the previous record, set in 1981, of 81 litres per square metre and the quarter so far is the driest since 1940. Most reservoirs are at around 60% capacity, however, due to the rains of the past couple of years but odd ones are already in trouble, down to 40% in some cases.

So the question I leave you with is: which country has a hosepipe ban in place already?

Channel Tunnel To Allow Mobile Phones

Back in Spain this week, but the first story to catch the eye relates to the Channel Tunnel and reports that a French technology group had sorted out a way of connecting the tunnel with mobile phone networks.

The report claimed that the systems would be live in time for the Olympics in London in July which sort of makes sense. Given the current state of the roads infrastructure in the UK I suspect many a ticket holder will still be stuck in the Tunnel when the games have started.

A spokesman for Eurotunnel, which manages and operates the tunnel, could not confirm the report, but did confirm that the idea was being looked at.

Here is my advice: don’t!!! The 35 minutes that you are on the Shuttle is nice and peaceful and a great time to just switch off and unwind after a drive so please don’t go spoiling it by allowing some obnoxious business type to rabbit on in a loud voice about how important they are. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t mandatory to open your windows on the Shuttle so there would be no escape!


I am starting to like Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on the grounds that he seems prepared to stand up to the EU bullies must have something about them! Spain has told Brussels that they will miss the 2012 deficit target that had been agreed due to soaring unemployment (close to 6m soon in Spain) and the likely return to recession next quarter.

Rajoy said his conservative government would aim to hold the public deficit in 2012 at 5.8 percent of gross domestic product, way above the previously agreed 4.4 percent.

Spain now faces sanctions from the EU, but has said that the additional 4.7% spending cut would in effect be the straw that breaks the camels back.

One effect of this stance has been a drop in European Shares and a weakening of the Euro, which I suspect will please more than a few Expats.

Now if only he could be as tough with the Iberia pilots who have called another 24 one-day strikes during the next three months as part of their continuing protest at the airline’s plans to set up a low-cost airline, Iberia Express. The strikes are due to take place on: March 6, 19, 23, 25, 26 and 30th, April 2, 4, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27 and 30th and May 2 , 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 and 28th.

Also on his “To Fix” list should be the problem of age discrimination here in Spain as nearly 293,000 over-55s have been on the dole for a year and the number of official complaints concerning age discrimination when applying for jobs has rocketed. In total, 15 per cent of dole claimants – including those signed on whose entitlement has expired – are aged 55 or over, and 15.5 per cent of people in this age-group are unemployed. This means nearly three million of Spain’s jobless are those whom companies consider ‘too old to work’. A total of six per cent of those interviewed say they have personally been discriminated against because of their age, whilst a further 15 per cent say they have witnessed such segregation.

An EU-wide survey has revealed that 58 per cent of citizens in member states believes their country’s job market actively rejects applicants over a certain age, whilst this figure rises to 61 per cent in Spain.


And finally this week I was amazed when I read that Italy has the highest percentage of children in poverty in Europe. It isn’t an issue I have really thought of before to be honest with the TV and Charities tending to draw your attention to the third world countries, but even so Italy is not a country I would ever have put at the top of such a problem.

Close to 2 million kids live in poverty in Europe’s third-largest economy, according to a new UNICEF report.

I will finish with a quote from the article:

“Every morning, hundreds of thousands of children in Italy’s poorest regions wake up hungry. Some have never used a computer because the schools can’t afford them in the classrooms. Many don’t go to school at all, or when they do they drop out, hoping to find scarce jobs. While their parents try to eke out a living, infants are left alone with young children as caregivers because of a lack of public day care. A growing number of children work as laborers on farms. Others are pushed into the sex trade to help support their families. Thousands live without basic amenities like hot water, regular meals, or simple health care—all in picturesque Italy.”

And a question: with all the money we pay into the EU how can this be happening in this day and age?

I Can’t Blame Ryanair

Much debate and disappointment this week in our neck of the woods at the news that Ryanair have done a U Turn and have pulled out of the Almeria to Liverpool route.

Background to this is that Monarch used to fly from Manchester and Birmingham into Almeria, but recently withdrew the Manchester flight. Ryanair stepped forward announcing a twice weekly service to start at the end of March.

Good news for all, Ryanair were to be the single handed saviour of the all but non existent tourist business along the Costa Alameria and overnight would become the airline of choice for many a second property owner.

Only it wasn’t to be! Ryanair pulled out claiming that the landing fees at Almeria are too high (they are) and the Almeria does virtually nothing to attract the airlines aka tourists (again true).

So never mind that Almeria airport is over 100m€ in debt and on the list to be reviewed to be closed following the reversal in the governments decision no to semi privatise the airports. Never mind the fact that Almeria’s Tourist Board have a stated aim to turn the region into area of Gastronomic Tourism and as such are targeting a specific market with a higher disposable income that the ‘traditional British tourist’. And then there is the fact that Almeria has always been set as a second property destination for Spaniards, as well as the Brits, Germans, Swedes etc etc.

No there was a bandwagon to be jumped on: the let’s hate Ryanair one! Now it is no secret that as an airline I don’t really like them. I am not a fan of the ‘budget approach’ and the ‘extras’ soon add up BUT as a business they have to be admired, and dare I say it encouraged! In a age when hardly anyone is making any money the fact that they are is impressive, and one way or another we need them.

They pulled out of Granada for similar reasons not so long ago you may remember so for those that are saying that it is just a publicity stunt, a way of making money by getting bookings paid for when they had no intention of flying I can only muster two words: grow up! If the economics made sense I have no doubts that of all the airlines Ryanair would be making a go of it. Monarch couldn’t and they pulled out, so why can’t Ryanair? The fact that they hadn’t communicated and refunded deposits before people started getting in touch? Conspiracy? Rubbish, this is the age of the Internet and things move so quickly these days I doubt they had time to set the processes up before the news was spread like wildfire.

The facts are in the story: Almeria doesn’t want the classic British Tourist. It has figured out that the likes of Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, Tenerife and Gran Canaries are going to get them. They are del establish, popular and a safe bet for the tourists. Almeria like many a destination has to re-invent itself and they are totally entitled to do what they want, how they want. If that sits uncomfortably with some that is just tough I am afraid.


Sticking with airlines interesting to read that Iberia has announced plans to take its striking pilots to court by commencing legal action against their union, SEPLA. According to the airline, it loses three million euros a day when the pilots down tools in protest. The upcoming strikes will hit every national public holiday between now and June, which could cost the airline substantial amounts of money.

Over half of the team of 390 pilots working for the now-defunct flight company Spanair have been taken on by other carriers at home and abroad, say sources from the company. Around 50 have been employed by Qatar Airways and several others by low-cost company Vueling, whilst 150 are now with Hong Kong Airlines – part of the Hainan group.


Jose Padilla is the bull fighter that ended up with a bulls horn going through his lower jaw and out of how left eye. He now wears a eye patch and talks with a lisp, but has returned to the ring five months after the ‘accident’.

Good for him: gives the bull a chance to finish off the job!

Stop Whinging About Mossies!

I am bored already with people moaning about Mosquitoes. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the little b*****s, and you only have to look at the horrific number of people still dying every day from Malaria to see how dangerous they can be but seriously when you came to live in a hot country, that is when you made your informed decision, under no pressure, to come in live in a hot country, with golf courses, stagnant water and a partially tropical climate during the winter months what did you expect?

Snow is cold, the antarctic is full of ice, and Spain is hot and full of creatures and insects that always have and always will thrive in the conditions.

As I said I am no fan, and it certainly doesn’t help when the local authorities say they can’t control the situation because they have no funds. That is wrong, should be unacceptable in this day and age, but the world is pretty s*****d up these days and ‘what used to be’ and ‘how it should be’ just don’t apply at the moment.

Inconvenient as it is some repellent and an avoidance strategy will ensure you avoid the worst, and falling that stop and think of all of those that are dying for the lack of a £5 donation (www.sportreliefe.com).


My ‘love affair’ with Rajoy is in danger of ending pretty much before it started. His reluctance to give in to the EU demands to reduce the debt deficit even further appear to have been short lived, and he has been bullied into even further cuts. At the moment Rajoy is refusing to give into the EU’s demands that he raises IVA but ……. Minister for the Economy, De Guindos, has refused to rule out a possible increase in 2013.

Sticking with the economy it has to be encouraging that inflation fell to 1.9 percent in February on a 12-month basis, its lowest level since August 2010, from 2.0 percent in January although given the amount of driving I do with www.alstrays.com it certainly wasn’t good that transportation costs soared 5.3 percent during the month due to higher oil prices although this was offset by a 3.5 percent drop in telecommunications costs. I am not happy that the government is considering the tax on diesel either! Maybe it is time to consider an Electric vehicle as I read recently that Spain now has over 100 charging station installed by Iberdrola.

Also encouraging to read that repossession laws on mortgaged homes are to get a complete overhaul forcing banks to take a more flexible stance in order to prevent owners from being left out on the street. Those households where all adult members are unemployed and with no income will be able to request a ‘payment holiday’ of up to four years, during which they only pay interest on the loan; an extension of the mortgage term to 40 years, and the reduction of interest rates to the current Euribor plus 0.25 per cent.

And finally a few other stories caught the eye:

Spain is among the countries of the world which has the most holidays. Both Spaniards and the Portuguese have 22 days holiday a year by law, while the Norwegians have 21. In addition to the 22 days holiday, the Spanish also enjoying 14 fiesta days taking the total of 36 free days. Only Austria and Malta have more free days, at 38 per year.

Two thirds of Spanish people have had a dispute with their neighbours for reasons such as noise, non-payment of community charges, or pets. For the Spanish in particular, noise is by far and away the most common cause of conflicts between neighbours.

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