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A LITTLE SERIOUS A LITTLE HUMOROUS

 

News in Spain

November 2013

 

Without English there is no graduation-Nov 12, 2013 - 11:51:13 AM: Cataluña is obliging students to have a B2 level in a third language to graduate, that’s equivalent to a First Certificate in English, a Mittelstufe in Germany, or the fifth course in the Official School of Languages in Spain...

The Catalan Government wants to introduce this in the next academic year for those who will graduate in 2018 and 2019, in the 12 universities, both public and private that are in the region.

A statement from the Catalan Government said ‘We want to guarantee that all the university students have no problems with English when they leave university’.

Although the measure is basically in English, student will able to chose between, German, French or Italian.

This year a new Language Certificate has been introduced to the Catalan Universities, a test which costs 75€ which will give a student’s level of English.

English language tuition has always been the weak spot in Spanish education. You only need to look at the Prime Minister and the members of his government. Esperanza Aguirre is the only one who is easy to understand.

Everyone remembers José María Aznar, trying to speak English at Georgetown University, saying ‘another piss in the Islamic world’, and then just recently the Mayor of Madrid, Aznar’s wife, talking at the Spanish Olympic Presentation and talking about her lovely cup of coffee. One presumes not much English is spoken in the Aznar household.

Back in Cataluña concerns have been raised about the plan. Worry about those students with fewer resources, and the opinion that it is the job of schools to teach English.

The Catalan plan is not the first in Spain. The polytechnics in Cantabria and the Baleares both ask for languages to graduate.

The experts say it would better if language education started in the school.

Tarragona shelters a cemetery of forgotten soldiers and sailors. The British Crown maintains the 'Fossar dels Jans' cemetery in Tarragona.


Nov 4, 2013 - 7:50:14 AM
The space, now surround by luxury homes, is not open to the public.
A padlock stops the opening of a corroded iron gate at 28, Paseo Rafael Casanova.

From the street you can see some bushes, and undergrowth taking over the site, with stone walls in a state of collapse.
The cemetery is in sharp contrast to the luxury villas which surround it.

It’s a busy street, with cliffs which fall to the sea and in the summer many people use it as a way to the beaches of Miracle and l’Arrabassada.

There is no sign to say what lies behind, but just high walls protecting what is in reality an abandoned cemetery.

Inside those walls dozens of sailors, consuls, and soldiers are buried, most of them British and of the protestant religion, shared out in crypts and mass graves. They died in the war of succession and those which are buried here were allies of Austria and defended Tarragona from the troops of Felipe V.

The cemetery is property of the British Crown. Before it opened the deceased were buried near the city walls, as being Protestants, Catholic cemeteries were closed. After first being moved to a site near the port, finally the men are at rest in the cemetery.

From 1849 other Britons who died in Tarragona were buried at the site, but we don’t know how many are there. There are two crypts with 83 people and under them a mass grave.
‘The names of those buried has not been registered’, according to a spokesman in the British Embassy in Madrid.

tarragonacemetry.jpg
The 'Fossar dels Jans' cemetery - Photo Josep Lluis Sellart - El País


Adolfo Alegret published a book in 1924, ‘Tarragona through the 19th century’ and is says the Fossar was a place ‘destined to the burial of pilots, sailors and other foreign people, which he vulgarly called ‘Jans’.

‘Jans’ were the people who came to Spain from far-off lands and who were outside the Catholic communion. This could have led to the name of the cemetery.

Alegret writes, ‘Is is an indomitable place, quiet, the voice echoes, its breathes sadness and melancholy’.
‘There is no lack of tombs and niches with worked marble with verses and dedications. The place is the object of legends, mystery, the desperate, and witches’ who search uselessly for the way to heaven’.

Sailors who were killed in Franco’s time in 1938, in two attacks from the Franco air forces ended up hitting the British Merchant Fleet, are also buried here, according to the British Embassy spokesman.

The last person to be buried there was in 1992. A man of British origin who lived in Tarragona, and reports say was Catholic.

In 2008 the crew of a British warship cleared away the undergrowth, and family visits are only one or two a year.

The Embassy says there are plans to clear away the vegetation in the next weeks, even though the cemetery remains closed to the public.

 

July 2013

Foreigners to get free medical care in Catalunya – whether legal or not, says regional government
Monday, June 24, 2013

CATALUNYA'S regional health authority has handed out over 106,000 cards entitling foreign residents to free State medical care – despite a national law which states they are not eligible.

The department, CatSalut, says it is against the legislation passed by Spanish health minister Ana Mato which means non-EU immigrants without residence rights cannot be treated without paying except for immediate emergencies, pregnancy and childbirth, unless they are under age 18.

Technically, European Union citizens who do not have a valid 'green certificate' dated on or before April 24, 2012 are not entitled to free healthcare either, unless they pay Social Security every month at 270 euros or have a job contract, whereby their employers will be paying this for them.

But in many cases and particularly at family doctor level, medics are continuing to treat both unqualified EU and illegal immigrants through a conscientious objection.

And Catalunya has decided to follow this trend universally, giving 97,100 permanent SIP cards – which entitle the bearer to use the public health service – to foreigners who have been on the padrón, or census, for more than a year, and another temporary, renewable form of SIP card to 9,100 others who have been on their town halls' books for less than a year.

This is irrespective of whether they have a valid and current residence card or not, and a further 10,000 or more cards will soon be handed out to other non-registered, non-EU foreigners.

Letters have been sent to all of them, although around 2,000 have been returned by the post office.

Spokesman for CatSalut, Boi Ruiz, says the Spanish Constitution provides for healthcare for all residents in the country irrespective of their financial, professional or legal status, and that for medical attention to be on condition of paying Social Security went against Spain's Carta Magna.

Ruiz says 600,000 people in Catalunya would not be able to get free healthcare if the regional government obeyed the Royal Decree passed by Mato last year.

These include 200,000 immigrants who do not have their residence papers in order or whose existing cards have expired and not yet been renewed, and another 400,000 foreigners – EU citizens, nationals of countries elsewhere and even native Spaniards – who are not paying Social Security.

Of these 400,000, some do not have enough, or any, income to enable them to pay it; some belong to religious orders or so-called 'liberal professions' which are exempt from paying this; some are early retirees living off a private pension or other income from savings; and some are non-workers with an annual income of 100,000 euros a year or more.

Those in the latter two categories are not permitted to pay Social Security as they are not part of the workforce.

Ruiz says all of these people, if they live in Catalunya, will be allowed to have free State healthcare.

He says as well as being unfair, not allowing those who cannot afford to pay to be treated for free is extremely dangerous, particularly as it is likely to lead to epidemics of contagious illnesses.

Tropical diseases are often found to be carried by immigrants from African and Latin American countries, and these can be treated successfully if caught in time – but without attention, some types of these can spread rapidly, Ruiz explains.

And HIV and AIDS is more prevalent in third-world nationals, and where untreated can reach epidemic proportions because of the risk of its spreading to others.

Hospitals elsewhere in Spain have already raised grave concerns about this issue.

 

MAY 2013

Dear All,


This is a copy of an email I received from the Mossos with photos of recovered goods which they have not been able to return to the owners as perhaps they have not bothered to make a report of theft.

Please spread it amongst anyone you know so that the most people possible can be informed.

There is also at the end of the letter a note advising us that a white van Nissan Trade, reg  CS 1886 AG, it is driven by two gypsy looking men in their mid 20s, one is big and with a moustasche while the other is thin with a badly marked skin.

T'adjunto un recull fotogràfic d'una sèrie d'objectes que van ser recuperats de diferents robatoris a la nostra comarca, per tal que facin la màxima difussió possible entre els veïns de la vostra associació. En cas que algú reconegui algun objecte del recull fotogràfic, que s'adreci a la comissaria de Mossos d'Esquadra de Tortosa de l'ABP BAix Ebre,les diligències son les 312730/13.
>
Son objectes que després de revisar les denuncies que ens consten,no s'ha trobat el seu propietari,possiblement per no haver presentat la corresponent denúncia.
>
També et comento que hi ha una furgoneta NISSAN TRADE de color blanc,matrícula CS1886AG,conduïda per dos persones d'ètnia gitana,d'uns 25anys,un gros mig calvo i amb bigot i l'altre molt prim i amb la cara marcada per alguna enfermetat o grans.
>
>
Atentament,
>
Agent Miquel AYUSO
Oficina de Relacions amb la Comunitat
ABP Baix Ebre
Regió Policial Terres de l'Ebre
Policia de la Generalitat - Mossos d'Esquadra
C. Ferran Arasa, 5-7 | 43500 Tortosa | 977 923 120
ext. 68607 | fax. 977 923 139
itpg711@gencat.cat
>

Please click here to download the pdf file of photos>>>

EHIC health card warning for tourists

PUBLISHED: May 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm  • 

HOLIDAYMAKERS are being warned to think twice about their medical cover before embarking for Spain.

Tourists are being warned not to rely on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is supposed to give all EU citizens access to state medical care in all member countries.

It comes after several British tourists were refused treatment unless they paid for it first.

It comes after how mother Samantha Fryer was refused treatment for her son Josh, 15, after he had punctured a testicle, unless she paid €400 in advance. In the disgraceful case that shocked the coast, the public Hospital de Alta Resolucion insisted she stump up the cash before a doctor would even consider stitching up his wound that was haemorraging blood.

She ended finding a private doctor around the corner who stitched up the wound for just €30.

The problem is so rife in Spain, as well as Greece and Portugal, that the  European Commission has been forced to launch an investigation. Several leading insurance companies have lodged official complaints and the  Association of British Insurers is investigating 120 cases of holidaymakers being turned down by Spanish doctors.

Typically, British tourists – who number 11 million coming to Spain each year – are being asked if they have travel insurance not the EHIC card.

With the country currently in the depths of an economic recession, there have been huge cuts to its public services, which have left state hospitals operating on extremely tight budgets.

An EU spokeperson said: ‘We have been  receiving an increasing number of complaints about the EHIC card being refused in Spain.

“Many of these hospitals provide public and private healthcare and some tourists say they have been pushed to accept private treatment and use their travel insurance.”

The Association of British Insurers says in most cases when an EHIC card is refused the insurer should pay up, and advises that if you are forced to pay on the spot make sure you gather as much evidence as possible to prove that it was an emergency.

You should also complain to the British Embassy  and report the problem to SOLVIT, which investigates breaches of EU law. These cases also underline the vital importance of taking out travel insurance before you go on holiday, even if your destination is within the EU.

 

Sean Connery threatened with arrest over Marbella house sale


The Connery's have, as yet, failed to answer the judge's questions asked some three years ago.

By Howard Brereton - May 18, 2013 - 12:43 PM

82 year old Sean Connery has been given six months to answer questions about the sale of his Marbella home Casa Malibu in 1999 or face being arrested. The Connery couple had owned the property for 20 years and sold it for a reported 5.5 million €.

The judge thinks that there were irregularities in the sale, and he is investigating 17 people in what has become known as the ‘Goldfinger’ affair. Among the 17 are the ex Marbella Mayor, Julián Muñoz and the real estate planning chief in the Marbella Town Hall, Juan Antonio Roca, both of whom are wrapped up in other corruption cases.

After the sale a block of 72 flats were built on the site, despite planning permission for only 5 houses. The development gained a 53 million € profit, which is understood to have been sent offshore.

Spanish tax officials think that Connery and his wife had dealings with a company involved in the scheme and a developer called ‘By the sea’. Both companies had the same lawyers, and many lawyers are also under scrutiny in the case.

The judge in the case has been trying to interview Connery, who now lives in the Bahamas, for some years. At the last attempt in October 2010 Connery said he was too ill to travel.

So now, three years on the judge has lost his patience and given Connery six months to explain the details of his house sale.

If they don’t respond reports indicate that it is likely that the judge will add them to the list of the already accused, and International Arrest Warrants will be issued for Connery and his wife.

Connery’s wife, Micheline Roquebrune, is reported to have said some years ago that ‘the money laundering allegations are nonsense’. She continued, ‘We have nothing to do with this. We sold the property and that is it’.

 

The British Parliament is to address the working conditions in Ryanair.


Cabin staff are paid by the hour, but only when the aircraft is airbourne

By Howard Brereton - May 20, 2013 - 12:11 PM

The British Parliament is to address the working conditions in Ryanair.

Lucinda Berger, MP for Liverpool, has taken a complaint from a TCP in Ryanair, Sophie Growcoot, about her labour conditions in the Irish airline. Among other things she has worked for days with no pay.

According to the Independent Sophie Growcoot’s account of her time as a contractor for Ryanair, although disputed by the airline, makes painful reading. An hourly rate of 13.07 pounds may not appear too miserly, but cabin crews are only paid for when the plane is aloft.

Ryanair employs staff on a nine month basis, for the rest of the year they want you to pay 2000 € to go on a course on working security, and staff also have to pay for their uniform at 426 €.

Ryanair has said the accusations are false and that Sophie Growcoot was not employed by Ryanair but another company. That company is called Crewlink, and it is a Ryanair subsidiary.

The Independent moves on to the conditions for Ryanair pilots. They are employed as contractors only, cutting costs and upping stress level says the official union Ryanair Pilot Group.

The paper says that what Ryanair are doing is not illegal, but it does show the weakness of employment law in Britain.

 

APRIL 2013

Expat Couple refer Spain to EU Court of Human Rights- 28th April 2013

After months of preparation, since the case was first announced, a British family from Albox have today formally taken Spain to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on the basis that Spain, and in this specific case, the Junta de Andalucía, does not respect their human right to property.

The claimants, who for the moment wish to remain anonymous due to ill health, are represented by the lawyer Gerardo Vazquez and supported by the property owners associations AUAN, SOHA and AUN.

Maura Hillen, President of AUAN states: “We believe that this claim is the first of many such claims against Spain for not respecting the fundamental right to private property. This couple’s case is particularly acute. Their house has planning permission granted by the town hall but the regional government challenged it on the basis that the house risked creating an urban nucleus. What the administration gives with one hand it takes away with the other. Citizens should not be expected to suffer the consequences of disputes between two branches of the same administration”. She added “It would be funny if it were not so tragic – this house is surrounded by other houses constructed without planning permission. These houses, without planning permission, are at no risk of demolition because the government failed to act against them in time but the most legal house with planning permissions has a demolition order!”

Mrs Hillen summarised the complaint of the British family in this case “They say that the Spanish system has failed them, as it has failed thousands of other people who are affected by these planning issues. They say that the Spanish state does not sufficiently respect the right to property established in the European Convention of Human Rights, that there is no clarity in the Spanish legal system and that to demolish their house would be an arbitrary and disproportionate measure which would not achieve anything. They also claim that the demolition of their property would be a de facto expropriation without any guarantee of compensation”.

The couple’s lawyer, Gerardo Vazquez, is collaborating with the UK based solicitor, Jonathan Hoggett, and a specialist in Human Rights Law, Dr. Jose Luis Bazán. Like Sr. Vazquez, they are convinced of the material justice of the complaint.

Asked if this case is like that of Mr & Mrs Prior, Mrs Hillen said “It is very similar, except that sadly the Priors are living in their garage some years after their property was demolish and have yet to receive adequate compensation. The claimants in this new case do not want this to happen again”.

To try to improve the situation going forward Mrs. Hillen states that AUAN is trying to promote legislative changes at a state level whereby the Ley de Suelo (State Land Law) would adopt measures to expressly recognise the fundamental right to property in a manner that is more consistent with the international obligations of this country. Maura explains “There are precedents; such changes have been made in Cantabria”. She added “It is a shame that politicians will not deal with those affected when trying to resolve these problems and as a result laws that do not take account of social reality are condemned to failure. I hope that the Development Commission of the Congress of Deputies, the Ministry of Development or anyone has the courtesy to recognise that we exist, that we have made proposals, and that they dedicate some time to consider what we have to say because we live with these problems every day. “

“We are the consumers of the Spanish brand, a brand that the government wants to develop, and we say that the brand has some shortcomings that require fixing” she concluded.

Recommended Reading

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Bilingual education thriving in Andalucía-The plan was started in 2005 and has grown ever since

Apr 28, 2013 - 8:48 AM

Bilingual education is extending across Málaga and Andalucía. More than 20% of the children in Andalucía who are studying in English, French or German are from Málaga province.

It’s always said that speaking languages opens doors and here the foreign language is used in teaching of subjects such as Maths, Science and History.

The plan started in 2005 in colleges and institutes in Andalucia, and since then it has grown with every school year. An example is the Félix Revello de Toro school in Teatinos Málaga. It is now the college in most demand in the city for what has become a tradition of teaching in English.

General strike could be in the pipeline 

Saturday, April 27, 2013. UNION leaders have threatened another nationwide strike if the government does not change its economic policies, saying the PP is 'out of touch' with what Spanish society needs.

Ignacio Toxo and Cándido Méndez, leaders of the Labourers' Commission (CCOO) and General Workers' Union (UGT) respectively say they will 'do whatever it takes' to make the government sit up and listen.

Toxo said Rajoy's cabinet 'knows nothing' about what people in Spain need, which includes urgent solutions and 'a chance'.

“The government needs to give them this chance, by leading a national commitment to fight against mass unemployment and the precarious situation people are currently in, and to offer protection – given that millions of people in Spain have absolutely no income whatsoever,” Toxo told reporters during the military demonstration outside the Ministry of Defence building yesterday.

“They need to use every resource in the country to protect people and fight against unemployment.

“Residents in Spain have had their own resources expropriated by way of preferential shares being reduced to nil, costing them their entire life's savings, and through being thrown out of their own homes thanks to mortgage laws that would have been more appropriate to the 19th century than the 21st.”

 

Woman dies after being refused medical assistance five times in less than a week 

 Thursday, April 25, 2013. A FULL-SCALE inquiry is under way after a woman died in the doorway of her house despite having been turned away from health centres and hospitals on five occasions in as many days.

At least four major associations are pushing for answers on behalf of Soledad, a Bolivian national living in Valencia, and believe there was a certain level of 'racism' involved.

She went to her local GP clinic in the Ruzafa district of the city, the Fuente de San Luis, on February 15, suffering from a persistent cough, but was refused treatment after being told her SIP card – entitling her to State healthcare – was 'invalid'.

The associations now fighting her case posthumously say this was not the case at all.

Two days later, she found she was struggling to swallow when eating and went to A&E at Valencia's Hospital Clínico (pictured), where she was given a perfunctory physical examination and told there was nothing urgently wrong with her and to speak to her GP.

When her condition was no better by February 18, she returned to A&E and was not given any examinations whatsoever, but just told to 'go to her GP' as she had been advised the day before.

Staff also told her that the Hospital Clínico was 'not in her catchment area' and that she should have gone to the Doctor Pese Hospital instead.

Workers at the Clínico allegedly said: “If you turn up here in A&E again, we're going to charge you.”

Feeling steadily worse, that same day Soledad went back to the Fuente de San Luis health centre in her neighbourhood, where she was told again that the Hospital Clínico was not in her catchment area.

She was not examined, but was given an injection for nausea and sent home.

In the early hours of the next day, February 19, Soledad began to cough up blood and her husband tried to get doctors to go to their home to attend to her, but was told: “We don't do home visits just because someone's got a cold.”

The couple went to the health centre later that morning, where they were just told to take the same cough medicine she had been given the previous day.

By the early hours of February 20, Soledad's condition had worsened considerably, and her husband rang the emergency number, 112, to get an ambulance.

But he was once again told: “We're not sending out an ambulance just because you've got a cold.”

Seeing that he would get nowhere, the woman's husband called a man who worked for him and asked him to bring his car so they could take Soledad to hospital.

This man also called for an ambulance, but was refused assistance, so he called the Local Police in Valencia.

Officers, once on site, called the emergency line and demanded an ambulance 'immediately'.

Paramedics arrived two hours after the first call to 112 was made, by which time the woman was already dead.

The exact cause of her death is not known, and a post-mortem is due to be carried out among other investigations to ascertain whether medical negligence was involved.


British man pretends to be the Tarragona Mayor on Facebook

tarragona facebook mayor

The photo was spotted by someone from Tarragona living in Britain recognised the Mayor

Apr 24, 2013 - 11:51 PM

Facebook has removed the profile of a British man, Derrick Arthur Anderson, who used a picture of the Mayor of Tarragona, Josep Fèlix Ballesteros, in his attempts to meet people and attract women.

It came to light when a tarraconense resident in Britain recognised the Mayor and got in touch with the Town Hall.

The Town Hall asked Facebook to remove the photo and they did so yesterday.

Toni Cantó defends the right to learn Castellano in Cataluña-The actor is in the habit of making controversial declarations

Apr 17, 2013 - 6:51 AM

The UPyD deputy, Toni Cantó, has once again made some controversial statements comparing the linguistic policies of Valencia and Cataluña with paedophilia.

In an interview with Jotdown.es the actor said we have to put limits on a policy which, in his opinion, does not respect the freedom for children to study in Castellano.

‘They cannot go over my freedom’, he said. ’In the same way that you can decide to allow paedophiles to roam’.

Cantó thinks that in other countries with several languages there is less controversy, because they don’t ‘prohibit’ the choice of language when it comes to study.

‘They accommodate different languages naturally, where they don’t let me study Castellano in Cataluña and in some parts of Valencia.

Cantó is in the habit of making off the court comments. Earlier this week he tweeted that the majority of domestic violence is false.

Catalan court rules that Castilian must be “vehicular language” in schools- Judgment anticipates change from catering to individual demands to making whole classes study in Spanish

The Catalan regional High Court (TJSC) has ruled that if a single student asks to be taught in Castilian Spanish, the entire class will be obliged to do so as well.

“The system must be adapted to the entire class of which the student forms part. What has been agreed upon will affect that student and his classmates,” the court ruled.

The demands of parents in the region for greater exposure to Castilian — currently all classes are imparted in Catalan and Castilian is a separate subject — was upheld by the court, which stated that the two languages should have a more balanced presence in the classroom. However, the exact percentages were left in the hands of the regional government.

The TSJC ruled in 2009 that a child could be placed in a single language class or receive individual tutorship but has now decided that such practices would be “discriminatory” and defended the right of the student to receive classes in their main language “whether that is Catalan or Castilian.”

The TSJC ruling comes three weeks after the Supreme Court said the right of a student to receive Castilian classes “will not be met by individual attention but by the transformation of the entire system so that they and their classmates use — in the proportion the Generalitat finds reasonable — Castilian as a vehicular language.”

The court considers that the measure is compatible with the rights of other students “whose parents may prefer that the current linguistic model is not modified.”

La Caixa to sell properties for 1.5 bln euro- April 10 2013

Spanish banking group La Caixa is looking to sell a package of 12,000 properties for more than €1.5 billion, in what would be a rare large-scale disposal of housing assets held by lenders, a source with knowledge of the talks said.

Spanish banks, crippled by the country's real estate market crash five years ago, are starting to make a big push to purge their books of repossessed homes and buildings after writing down troubled property assets last year in a government-enforced clean-up.

Major deals such as the one La Caixa is eyeing have been very rare, however, despite interest from international investors such as private equity firms and hedge funds in picking up bundles of discounted property deals.

Price has so far been a key obstacle, with investors seeking discounts that banks often consider too low.

"The process is at a very early stage and could be done in various stages, so for now the numbers are just an estimate," the source said.

Barcelona-based La Caixa, which controls commercial banking business Caixabank, declined to comment.

The package of properties would include flats and housing in the Spanish capital of Madrid, Barcelona, and other major cities, the source said.

These type of assets, which are easier to sell on or rent out than properties in remote developments built up during Spain's real estate boom, have so far found many willing investors, who may pay more than for other assets.

But so far most sales of repossessed housing by banks have happened piecemeal, or in small packages.

Spain had to rescue several banks hurt by the property crash last year with €41 billion in European funds. Those banks have transferred soured property loans and assets to a so-called bad bank, which will also be hoping to sell the assets on.

Healthier Spanish banks now want to get much of their property exposure off their books before sales from the bad bank pick up, to avoid having to compete.

International investors have also been circling Spanish companies that manage properties or service mortgage debt, many of which are owned by Spanish banks.

La Caixa has hired Morgan Stanley to sell a stake in its property management company, sources previously told Reuters.

Ambassador has "No Knowledge" of Castellon Airport Deal April 9 2013

The Spanish ambassador to Libya, José Riera, said today he is not aware of the intentions of the Spanish-Libyan investment group with regards to their offer to purchase Castellon Airport.

The Ambassador made the comments during a lunch meeting in Valencia with the Regional Chamber of Commerce, who were enquiring as to how the deal was progressing.

Riera claimed instead only to know the details that had been reported in the press, and through casual conversations with colleagues.

The €200 Mln offer to buy the airport - which will equate to a €67.5 Mln loss for the regional of Valencia once costs, fees and charges have been applied - is however allegedly not accompanied by a Bank Guarantee.

As such the deadline to complete the sale by the end of March (and before that, February) was not met.

 

MARCH 2013

 

 

Catalunya 'alone' ia: Region's secession from Spain would be 'a disaster' March 15th

INDEPENDENCE for the region of Catalunya would be 'disastrous' for its long-term future, says the Madrid-based Institute of Economic Studies (IEE).

If Catalunya were to become a separate country from Spain, it would automatically leave the European Union and the euro, meaning it would not be entitled to any help from the Central European Bank (BCE) nor would its people be able to rely upon the protection from EU legislation where national law did not do so.

Catalunya would have to have its own currency, which could suffer a devaluation of as much as 50 per cent when it first came into circulation.

And it could only seek help from the BCE if its banks were Spanish entities, which means their head offices would have to be in Spain – and therefore, technically, abroad.

Customs duty would apply when transporting goods in and out of Catalunya for sale, and the 'new country' would find exporting and attracting investment extremely difficult because of its not being an established economy and no longer being part of the EU.

This would mean the GNP would plummet.

Also, Catalunya would effectively separate itself from much stronger economies such as France and Germany – not only Spain – which would leave it rootless and vulnerable.

Plus, the part of Spain's national debt which currently relates to the region – around 150 billion euros – would become Catalunya's sole responsibility.

The IEE says that if those who want Catalunya to become a separate country believe it would benefit financially from the secession, 'they do not know what they are doing'.

European court rules against Spanish eviction laws, March 15th

Spanish laws are too tough on homeowners who default on their mortgages, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The court found that Spanish legislation goes against EU law because it prevents judges declaring the terms of a loan agreement to be unfair.

Spanish rules make it hard for homeowners to contest an eviction by a bank.

Several recent suicides have been blamed on evictions.

An estimated 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes since Spain's property market crashed five years ago, and Spanish banks suspended evictions for the most vulnerable people last November.

Spanish homeowners under threat of repossession cannot stop the eviction process while they fight contentious clauses in their mortgage contracts.

If they win a court case, they may seek compensation but will not necessarily recover their homes.

Some contracts contain clauses allowing for a sharp increase in interest if a borrower falls behind on payments and Spanish law also gives the lender the right to start accelerated proceedings to evict the borrower if a single payment is missed.

Even after a home is repossessed by the lender, the borrower can still be held liable for the remainder of the loan.

Moroccan evicted

In its judgement, the European Court of Justice said Spanish judges should have the power to halt evictions while homeowners take legal action against clauses in their contracts.

"Spanish legislation infringes EU law to the extent that it precludes the court which has jurisdiction to declare unfair a term of a loan agreement," the court ruled.

A Barcelona judge had asked the European Court of Justice to decide on the case of a Moroccan man evicted from his home and unable to pay off the balance of a 138,000-euro (£120,000; $180,000) mortgage.

There have been demonstrations against the eviction laws and several people who had been evicted from their homes have killed themselves.

Reacting to the European Court of Justice decision, Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said: "We commit ourselves to revise all aspects of the law that have been declared in breach of the European legislation."

Campaigners against evictions welcomed the ruling.

"We are very happy with the news because it's a clear show of support for what we have been demanding and denouncing for the past four years... that the procedure is illegal and violates fundamental rights," said Ada Colau from Stop Evictions.

Spanish airports to charge trolley toll 14 March 2013

Spanish airports Aena has announced that during this year it will be introducing a charge of €1 for the use of baggage trolleys.
A spokesman said that the measure was aimed at increasing income with the first airport to employ it being El Prat in Barcelona.
The new system will also be installed in airports in Alicante, Málga, the Canary Islands and Palma de Mallorca.

Living longer in Spain 7 March 2013

A GLOBAL report issued this week by the Lancet, shows that Spain has the highest healthy life expectancy in Europe and that is also beats Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA.
The report said that Spain has an excellent healthcare system which was ranked seventh in the world by the World Health Organisation in 2000, the only time it has compiled such a league table.
In the same table the UK was ranked 18th.

No cash allowed 4 March 2013

Road fines can no longer be paid cash, the DGT traffic department has announced. The ruling comes into effect on Monday (March 4).

Payment can be made via a credit or debit card, in the Santander bank offices, at post offices, by calling 060 and on www.dgt.es

 

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2013

Pickpocket rings victim to ask for his credit card PIN
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

pickpocketA MAN who stole a wallet and then rang the owner to ask for his credit card PIN number has been arrested.

The accused pretended to be from the credit card company, and the account-holder gave his four-digit number over the phone, believing his story.

But the thief had already managed to block the card by typing in the wrong number combination two many times.

According to the Mossos d'Esquadra – Catalunya's answer to the Guardia Civil – the victim, from Solsona (Lleida province) reported in early December that his wallet containing two credit cards and 200 euros in cash had been stolen.

The thief, who lives in Sabadell (Barcelona province) tried to get money out from cashpoints in various locations in the city of Barcelona, but as he could not crack the PIN code he called the card's owner on his phone.

Given that he had his wallet with his ID card, he knew enough information about the victim's identity to pass for a customer services representative from Visa and convince him to give out his PIN.

Officers have arrested a 28-year-old Spaniard called Joan Carles M.M., who fits the description of the pickpocket.

 

Common cancer myths dispelled by Catalán Institute of Oncology
Sunday, February 3, 2013

cancerA list of the most common myths about cancer has been published this week by Catalunya's Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the regional health authorities.

This claims that the illness is not caused by stress, depression, being pessimistic, mobile phones, microwaves, bras or deodorant, and cannot be cured by positive thinking or medicinal herbs and plants.

Neither, in most cases, is it hereditary, say Dr Carles Constante and Dr Ignacio Blanco, from the regional health ministry and the ICO respectively.

Although research into DNA changes is paramount in tailoring treatment to the individual patient and his or her particular case, the actual genes a person was born with do not have any bearing on their propensity or otherwise to suffering cancer – in the case of identical twins, one may be diagnosed with cancer and the other free from the illness.

And it is also an urban myth that the 'big C' is always a death sentence, says the team – some 60 years ago, only two per cent of patients survived, but nowadays, those who survive for five years or more after finishing treatment account for 65 per cent.

In around five to 10 per cent of cancer cases, a genetic predisposition has been found in certain types of cancer which are repeated in several generations of the same family, but on the whole, the fact that a direct relative has had the condition does not mean you necessarily will, the study claims.

Another of the myths they have dispelled is that cancer always causes pain – in the initial stages, this is not always the case, although it may be the presence of ongoing pain that causes a patient to seek examinations that lead to a diagnosis.

However, in 75 per cent of cases, cancer patients do suffer pain of some description throughout the process, although where the cancer is advanced to the point it may be terminal, treatment such as radiotherapy may be given to reduce the pain.

Budget cuts in healthcare have not affected the number of cancer cases dealt with, nor the survival rate, the ICO insists – in fact, these cases have actually increased due to a greater level of multi-disciplinary treatment and research and a rise in numbers of palliative care units.

No scientific investigations have ever shown that using mobile phones, microwaves, bras or deodorant are linked to cancer in general or to breast cancer in particular, although severe weight gain or obesity after the menopause, doing little or no exercise and excessive consumption of alcohol increase the probabilities of cancerous tumours appearing, says the ICO.

Being a pessimist in general, suffering depression or stress does not increase the likelihood of cancer in any way, only insofar as those who are depressed or stressed tend to have a less healthy lifestyle such as smoking more, drinking to excess or overeating food with limited nutritional value.

And being positive and upbeat does not mean you are more likely to recover quickly or to survive, despite numerous claims by patients that they got through it because they 'refused to let it beat them' – although a positive frame of mind can help because it means the patient is more attentive to and willing to follow specialists' recommendations, rather than ignoring them as is more frequent in those with a resigned and fatalist attitude of 'I'm going to die anyway, so what's the point'.

Even this is not necessarily the case, Dr Blanco and Dr Constante say – if the cancer is detected in the early stages, a complete cure is more likely.

These days, over half – and nearly two-thirds – of cancer patients survive, and it is normally considered that past the five-year mark, if there has been no recurrence, all cancerous cells originally in the body will have been wiped out since they would otherwise have had time to metastasise.

Where cancer 'comes back' after much more than five years, it is normally a completely separate incidence of the disease and not related to the first.

Early diagnosis and detection, largely helped by preventive programmes, mean these days cancer is likely to be found at a much earlier stage – as is often the case with breast or prostate cancer – or prevented by detecting pre-cancerous cells, such as via a smear test.

Last year in the region of Catalunya alone, 1,000 cases of breast cancer were detected at a very early stage, meaning the chances of a complete cure for the patients in question.

Nationwide cancer research and care charity, the AECC, is pushing for the Spanish government to include bowel cancer testing for everyone as a routine procedure, not just for high-risk cases or those over a certain age, since this is another form of cancer which is highly curable if detected early but can be fatal if it goes unnoticed.

Catalonia’s parliament adopts declaration of sovereignty-24 Jan 2013

Catalonia’s parliament has adopted a declaration of sovereignty, the first step towards a possible referendum on breaking away from Spain.

The nationalist resolution was passed with 85 votes for and 41 against, increasing the pressure on Madrid.

Catalonia’s two main nationalist parties signed a pact last month pledging to hold a referendum next year.

Speaking in Catalan before the vote, the president of the regional government Artur Mas said it would be historic.

“Maybe it will not resolve our problems in 24 hours, but it will lead our country towards its destiny,” he added.

A few smaller parties backed the declaration, but it was opposed by the Catalan Socialist Party and Spain’s governing centre-right People’s Party.

Alicia Sanchez, head of the People’s Party of Catalonia said:

“Most Catalonian people do not want independence, they do not want this division. What you are doing today is applying pressure in defiance of the Spanish government.”

Catalonia’s nationalists were boosted by the unexpected size of a pro-independence rally in Barcelona last September, when up to an estimated half a million people took to the streets.

The declaration voted by parliament says the path towards self-determination, which is opposed by Madrid, will involve dialogue with the Spanish state, European institutions and the international community.

 

'Saucy' Carnival poster banned by Reus town hall
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reus CarnavalCARNIVAL organisers in Reus (Tarragona) have been ordered to take down a poster advertising the event featuring a woman's naked breasts.

Mayor Carles Pellicer (CiU) says he 'understands' the 'transgressive spirit' which is part and parcel of the Carnival – held the night before the first day of Lent – but considers it 'sexist'.

It 'does not represent the diverse public' who take part in the celebrations, Pellicer adds.

The provocative picture is a close-up of a young woman's breasts – and nothing else – with the slogan 'I [heart] Carnaval de Reus' painted across them in black, the heart symbol being in red.

It was designed by two local men, Josep María Figuerola and Joan Andreu, for the annual Carnival poster competition and was chosen for first place out of 14 entries.

But the organisers are more apprehensive about copyright than about the subject matter, since the breasts behind the slogan seem to belong to a pornographic website in the USA.

About 5,000 people are expected to go along to Reus' colourful Carnival, one of several hundred being held across the country between February 6 and 13.

Private firm offers to buy Castellón airport
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

castellon aiportA MULTI-MILLION offer to buy Castellón's brand-new, unused airport is under scrutiny by the Valencian regional government.

Since the new terminal was officially opened in March 2011, not a single plane has taken off from or landed there.

Now, a capital risk company – the name of which is being kept under wraps by ministers in Valencia – has put in a bid of 200 million euros to buy the doomed airport.

If the sale goes ahead, the new owners anticipate being able to create between 1,200 and 1,400 jobs directly and indirectly related to the terminal.

The airport is owned by Aerocas, the chief executive officer of which is Carlos Fabra, a family member of regional president Alberto Fabra, and the Generalitat Valenciana is the majority shareholder.

This means the airport will never get off the ground for as long as the regional government has no money in the bank.

But with a private company offering to invest in the inside of the terminal and in services elsewhere on the complex, flights from Castellón could take off as early as June this year.

Inditex founder buys BBVA office in Barcelona for 100 million euros
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

BBVASPAIN'S richest man has bought the BBVA bank headquarters in Barcelona.

Amancio Ortega, founder of the Inditex clothing chain, is said to have purchased the head office for 100 million euros.

The 13-storey building, in the central Plaça de Catalunya, was previously owned by German estate agency Deka Immobilien.

Ortega is said to have bought the bank building with assets not linked to his retail empire.

This is the third property in Barcelona bought by Ortega in the last year, after the one which houses the Burberry shop and another which is used as the Apple store, both on the main shopping street, the Passeig de Gràcia.

The BBVA bank will continue to occupy the building as a tenant.

Amancio Ortega, officially the richest man in Spain and the second-richest in Europe, founded and owns the high-street retail firm, Inditex, which includes various well-known international chain stores.

These include budget fashion outlets Zara, Stradivarius and Bershka, streetwear store Pull&Bear, upper-end high street shops Massimo Dutti and Uterqüe, underwear retailer Oysho, and interiors store Zara Home.

 

 

 


Pension, Benefit and Healthcare Team

THINKING AHEAD
On 6th April 2010, the rules surrounding the UK State Pension changed. You may know that the UK State Pension Age for women has started to gradually increase since the Pension Reform Act came into force last year. However, did you know that there are also other changes that could affect you and your UK pension? If you have not yet reached UK State Pension age, you should be aware of the following:
- Men and women now only need 30 qualifying years of UK National Insurance contributions to get a full basic UK State Pension - Men and women now only need 1 qualifying year of National Insurance contributions to get some UK State Pension - Parents and carers, past and present, may be given new National Insurance credits that will count towards a UK State Pension. For full details on all the changes, and how they could affect you, see www.direct.gov.uk.

WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
Although the PBHT can help customers in many ways, Martyn, PBHT Officer in Alicante, pointed out last month that there are some questions we cannot answer as we do not have the expertise to do so. One such topic is tax. However, our website of the month for October, www.hmrc.gov.uk, might be able to help where PBHT can't. And it's not just tax that is covered. National Insurance numbers, National Insurance contribution records, paying voluntary contributions… It's all there, so why not take a look.

CONSULAR BIRTH REGISTRATIONS
Did you know that if a British child is born in Spain, the parents can choose to register the birth of the child in the
Consular Birth Register in Madrid? It's important to be aware that, although you must register the birth with the Spanish authorities, there is no obligation to register it in the Consulate, and it won't affect the child's eligibility for a British passport which you, as parents, can apply for at any time. However, many do choose to register. Benefits include the possibility of purchasing a British-style Consular registration certificate and having a permanent record of the birth held at the General Register Office in the UK. Full details on how to apply, documents required and fees can be found at: http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/help-forbritish-nationals/living-in-spain/births-deaths-marriages/birth-registration

ACCEPTANCE OF THE EHIC
As we have highlighted previously, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is designed to cover a person for necessary treatment in a public hospital whilst they are on a temporary stay in another country.
Unfortunately, there have been cases in Spain in which a person has been asked to pay a deposit and/or sign a payment agreement at a public hospital despite producing a valid EHIC. In these cases the hospital wished to charge the cost of treatment back to the persons travel insurance, rather than accepting the EHIC.
While taking out travel insurance is important, private medical insurance should not take precedence over the EHIC, providing the card is valid and being used in the correct way. If you, or someone you know, has had their EHIC refused at a public Spanish hospital, it may be possible to apply for a refund of any costs incurred via the Overseas Healthcare Team who can be contacted on 0044 191 218 1999.

eu your europeWEBSITE OF THE MONTH
http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/index_en.htm
Our website of the month for September really has something for everyone. The Your Europe section of the European Commission (EC) website is specifically for those who are working, living and travelling within the EU. For example, if you want to know more about social security and tax matters as a worker in another EU country, or are looking for a job abroad, see the "Work‟ section. Or perhaps you want to know more about accessing healthcare whilst living or travelling in Europe? There's a great healthcare section too! And while you‟re on the internet, why not also browse the rest of the EC website – the amount of useful information, including specific information for Spain, may surprise you!

KEEPING AN EYE ON YOUR PASSPORT
Do you know where your passport is right now? For the majority, the answer is probably yes. But if the question was 'Do you know when your passport expires?' The positive responses would probably drop rapidly.
'Being aware of when your passport expires is becoming increasingly important', says Andy Hamilton, Head of the Regional Passport Centre in Madrid. 'If you don't have a valid passport, and need to travel urgently, you'll have to pay for an emergency passport, which is an expense most of us could do without. We understand that it's not always easy or convenient to send your passport in to be renewed at the exact point it expires, which is why people can send in their renewal application any time in the 9 months before without losing any validity'.
'Over the next couple of years, customers will see some changes to the current passport service. We're working toward a single system where all persons can apply directly to the UK, something our customers tell us they want.
During this period of transition, keeping an eye on when your passport expires will be really important to ensure you're not unduly inconvenienced'. More information on the upcoming changes can be found on our website, http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk.

Tpdehe Plataforma en Defensa de l'Ebre (PDE)

 

We would like to offer you news stories relating to our struggle to protect the river Ebro and its eco-systems. The first is in English but the other news items are in Catalan or Spanish so we offer a brief summary.

 

1. The European Comission will take the Spanish state to court regarding the more-than-two-delay in publishing the River Basin Plan for the Ebro. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/729&type=HTML

EU Press Release Brussels, 16 June - The European Commission is referring Spain to the EU Court of Justice for breaching two pieces of EU environment legislation.

The EU Water Framework Directive requires Member States to publish a management plan for each river district by 22 December 2009 at the latest. Spain is required to adopt 25 plans in total, but has so far only adopted and communicated one (the Plan de gestión del Distrito de Cuenca Fluvial de Cataluña).
Despite earlier warnings (see IP/11/91), as the plans have still not been adopted almost a year and a half after the deadline, the Commission has decided to refer Spain to the EU Court of Justice.

2. The lack of flow in the Ebro (closely related to the delay in publishing the Basin Plan, and hence a "minimum environmental flow") is causing serious problems. An excessive growth of river algae, for example, has led to serious health and social problems for the local population due to the massive expansion of the "black fly" (Simuliidae). Another potentially more serious problem occurred recently when river algae blocking the water pipes of the cooling pumps at the nuclear power plant in Asco, led to a 40% drop in power.

The Plataforma en Defensa de l'Ebre (PDE) is a group of volunteers campaigning to protect the river Ebro, its eco-systems and, consequently, the livelihood of many people who live on and around the river. Please Contact the Platform for the Defense of River Ebro : briansilvia@hotmail.com for more information.

 

Pension, Benefit and Healthcare Team CALLING ALL PENSIONERS!! The International Pension Centre (IPC) recently started a "life certificate" campaign and will soon be sending forms to many of you in Spain. As we´ve mentioned before, the life certificate is a form you must complete, within a certain time period, to demonstrate you continue to have the right to a pension. It is important the letter reaches you as soon as possible. We would therefore like to ask you to ensure the IPC hold your up to date contact details. Although you will have provided them with your Spanish address when you first moved over, if you have since moved house, or your address has changed due to increasing urbanisation in your town, inform the Pension Service on 0044 191 218 7777. Remember, you should inform the IPC of any changes in your circumstances, such as changes in address, within 28 days as you could receive correspondence from them at any time throughout the year. If "updating your details with IPC" is a resolution you keep all the way through to 2012, you´ll save yourself trouble regarding your pension in the year ahead!
A message from the British Consulate. We know that the withdrawal of the old "Residencia" ID cards has caused inconvenience to many British citizens living in Spain. However, ultimately this is a matter for the Spanish Government in the same way that not going ahead with the UK ID card project is a decision taken by the British Government. As you may know, Spain withdrew the Residents Card for EU citizens in order to comply with the EU Directive 2004/38/EC on the freedom of movement within the European Union which prevents a member state from issuing compulsory ID/residence cards to citizens of another EU country. Nevertheless, we will continue talking to the Spanish authorities in order to find an alternative solution that can help British and other European residents. In the meantime, the only legitimate form of ID for British citizens that is recognised by the Spanish authorities is the British passport, although you may find that a photo driving licence, a photo credit card or a certified copy of your passport is accepted in some shops and stores.

January 2011 ISSUE

LATEST NEWS: CEDULA CERTIFICATE

If you cannot get a cedula for your house, there is now a certificate you can get from an architect which states that the building does not conform to the cedula law, i.e it doesn´t qualify. ( This only applies to properties registered as viviendas)
If you sell your house with this certificate the status of it will not change. In the new escritura it will still say "vivienda", but with a small amendment? (I don´t know if that´s the right word) that says it does not conform to the law of the cedula. It basically means you don´t have the right to mains water and electric.
If it says in your nota simple "vivienda" that is what will go in to the new deeds, and it will get registered at the land registry as such.
To obtain this certificate you need to take your escritura and N.I.E to an architect. He does not need to come to the house and there is no time limit on it.

That´s all there is to it really, only took them a year to come up with it!!!
Perelló Properties Direct S.L
Tel: (0034) 977 490605
Fax:(0034) 977 490865
E-Mail: ppdsl@ppdsl.com
Web: www.ppdsl.com

FREE HEALTH CARE IN CATALUNYA

Provided by the Pension, Benefit & Healthcare Team here at the British Consulate.

I can confirm that those who are 'empadronado' (registered at the town hall) in the region of Catalunya and have no access to healthcare by any other means (either from Spain or the UK) can now access healthcare in Spain free of charge. This means that the Catalunya pay monthly scheme (87€ per month) or the means-tested route into healthcare are no longer in existence.

This change is due to a new law (Ley 21/2010, de 7 de julio, de acceso a la asistencia sanitaria de coberatura pública a cargo del Servicio Catalán de la Salud) which came into effect in Catalunya on 01 October 2010, further details of which can be found here: http://www.gencat.cat/diari_c/5672/10189023.htm

To apply for a health card in this way (Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual) applicants should go to their local 'Centro de Atencion Primaria' (CAP) where they will have to fill in an application form: http://www10.gencat.net/catsalut/archivos/240z214sol_cast.pdf and present photocopies of their NIE/DNI, passport and padrón certificate with an issue date of less than 3 months.

UK nationals will also need to present proof of no entitlement to healthcare from the UK which can be obtained by contacting the Overseas Healthcare Team in Newcastle on 0044 191 218 1999. Applicants under 18 will also need to present a copy of the 'Libro de Familia'. The health card, once issued, will be sent by post to their home address

Proof of Social Security number only needs to be presented if the person applying is the dependent of a contributor to the Social Security system.

I hope this answers your query however if you do have any further questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us again.

Kind regards,

Laura Leeman | Officer | British Consulate | Plaza Calvo Sotelo 1,2, 03001 Alicante
Tel.: +34 965 216022 | fax: +34 965 140528 | FTN: 8361 2004

Catalunya Data Portal Launched! The government of Catalunya has launched an open government data portal. The Catalan regional government has launched an open government data portal, adding to a growing list of international, national, regional and even local open data catalogues, where citizens can find public data for re-use. This is not just an important step for Catalunya, offering citizens a great resource, but also an important step and very good news for PSI and PSI re-use in Spain and Europe in general. The portal can be found at Dades Obertes Gencat (open data generality of Catalunya) http://dadesobertes.gencat.cat/




 






 



The SUPER SLICK new AVE train

This S103 model has a 200 metre long aluminium chassis carrying up to 404 passengers, it even has reclining seats that swivel to face the direction of travel, and these seats even have video and music players.
The aim of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to have 10,000km of high- speed track in Spain by 2020, meaning that 90% of the population will be no more than 30 miles from a station through which the train passes.
December saw the opening of lines connecting Madrid to Valladolid and to Malaga, which have slashed journey times and proved hugely popular. Carrillo describes the success of these two lines as “unprecedented and well ahead of what we expected. Traffic has doubled on the Malaga line, and grown by 75% on the Valladolid line.”
What the AVE offers is unavailable in the rest of Europe in terms of comfort, speed and punctuality. Do not read on if you are a British commuter used to delays, if an Ave train arrives more than five minutes late, passengers are reimbursed the full price of their ticket, the main problem for those hoping to get their money back is that the trains are almost 98% reliable.
New Rail Link Between Seville and Barcelona Announced
Plans were announced last week for a new high speed train route for Andalucia, to connect Seville with Barcelona and also Malaga with Barcelona without having to go to Madrid. A date has not been set, but the plan is to provide a link south of Madrid which connect the existing AVE lines from Barcelona and Andalucia.
ave train

 

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