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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 9 April 2021
09 April 2021 @ 11:51

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.  

- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'

NOTE: For about 18 years, I've had a page on Galicia and Pontevedra at www.colindavies.net but I haven't revised it or added to it for several years and it's now defunct. I've got a new site - www.thoughtsfromgalicia.com - where I'll be adding stuff as and when I can, And when I've worked out exactly how Wordpress works. If you go there now, you'll find a work-in-progress. And also this blog in exactly the same format as here. Except it automatically give more detailD of cited sites which use Wordpress.

Covid 

The UK: A year of fear.  Has the government achieved widespread conformity with restrictions on liberty through the unethical use of covert psychological strategies — “nudges” — in their messaging campaign? . . . The covert psychological strategies incorporated into the state’s coronavirus information campaign have achieved their aims of inducing a majority of the population to obey the draconian public health restrictions and accept vaccination. The nature of the tactics deployed — with their subconscious modes of action and the emotional discomfort generated — do, however, raise some pressing concerns about the legitimacy of using these kinds of psychological techniques for this purpose. The government, and its expert advisors, are operating in morally murky waters. Click here for more on this

Personally, I'm getting tired of people telling me - in the open air even - that my mask has slipped a fraction below the tip of my nose.

Cosas de España/Galiza

A reader has has reminded me that Spain's birth rate is so low as to be insufficient to even maintain the population, never mind increase it. Thus, he/she/ze writes in respect of the 7m increase in population since 2000: All 7m are foreigners. [The alleged Spanish births of 1.5m] are the children of those migrants who've already acquired a Spanish passport. Had it not been for immigration, Spain's population would now be lower by at least a million, at 39 million or so. 

Guy Hedgecoe is an estimable British journalist, writing from near Madrid on Matters Spanish. He sort of went off my radar after the demise of the Spanish news website Iberosphere but I’ve been catching up via his blog page. Here are posts on subjects I cover from time to time, albeit more briefly . . .

May 2017: Corruption: Why so much here?

July 2018: The effusive Mr Rhodes

Feb 2019: The Real Spain. A personal view

April: 2019; The Editor. Ex, that is. Of El Mundo.

Feb 2018: The Brother-in-Law Part 1

June 2019: The Brother-in-Law Part 2

Jan 2020: The dreadful facheleco garment

April 2020: The blame game Appalling Spanish politics

Oct 2020: After the second wave, how about a second Transition? The need for constitutional reform.

Jan 2021: A Resolution

María's Level Ground: Days 4 & 5. Also on 'political slime' 

The EU

For those interested . . . At the end of this post, there's a list of EU benefits provided by reader sp but drawn up by someone else. Below that are my comments on it.

The Way of the World

Novelist Philip Roth was right about our online witch-hunts as he foresaw the modern mania for denouncing anyone who doesn’t conform to the new puritanism. As we moved away from censorship - he said - we gravitated towards censoriousness. A nice line. Click here for more on this.

Spanish 

An interesting site.

Less informative but more amusing . . .

Finally  . . .  En Cataluña fue detenido un emigrante gallego que circulaba en dirección contraria y con un cadáver en el asiento.

THE BENEFITS OF THE EU TO THE UK

What has the EU ever done for us?  

Shock horror - EU membership costs £9 billion a year. But that's 34p per person per day (1% of Government budget) and in return we get a mind-blowing amount of goodness back:-

- Longest unbroken period of peace between European nations in history

- Free trade deals with over 70 countries

- Just in time manufacturing that supports millions of jobs, thanks to no customs checks or complex procedures

- Scientific and academic collaboration

- Support for the Good Friday Agreement & active promotion of the Irish peace process

- Shared space exploration

- Participation in the Galileo GPS satellite cluster

- Driving licenses valid all over the EU

- Car insurance valid all over the EU

- Pet passports to make travel with pets simple

- Simplified fixed compensation scheme for flight delays & cancellations

- European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

- Mobile roaming (calls, texts and data) at home prices

- Portable streaming services (can watch Netflix etc. all over the EU)

- Erasmus student exchange programme

- Simplified VAT reverse charge mechanism for those selling across the EU

- Safer food

- Clean beaches

- Enhanced consumer protection, including for cross-border shopping

- Horizon 2020 (funding and assistance for over 10,000 collaborative research projects in the UK as part of the world's largest multinational research programme.)

- Courses for the unemployed funded by the European Social Fund

- Disaster relief funding e.g. the 60 million euro we received for flood relief in 2017

- Free movement for musicians and their instruments, bands and their equipment, artists and their materials etc.

- Enhanced environmental protections

- Court of last resort (ECJ)

- REACH regulations & EU Chemicals Agency, improving human, animal and environmental safety around chemicals

- Pan-EU medicine testing and licensing

- Security cooperation and sharing of crime/terrorist databases

- European arrest warrant

- EURATOM for medical isotopes

- Support for rural areas

- Better food labelling

- EU funding for the British film industry, theatre and music

- European Capital of Culture programme, which has boosted cities such as Glasgow and Liverpool

- Service providers (e.g. freelance translators) can offer their services to clients all over the EU

- No UK VAT or duty on imports from the EU (great for online shopping)

- EU citizenship (it's a thing - look it up!)

- Cross-border collaboration on taxes, e.g. to hold huge firms like Amazon and Facebook to account more than we otherwise could

- Venture capital funding

- Legal protection for minority languages such as Welsh

- Mutual recognition of academic qualifications

- No credit and debit card surcharges

- EU structural funding (over £2 billion to Liverpool alone) with matched private funding requirement

- Supporting and encouraging democracy in post-communist countries

- A bigger presence on the world stage as a key part of the largest trade block in the world

- Use of EU queues at ports and airports

- Products made or grown in the UK can be sold in 31 countries without type approval, customs duties, phytosanitary certificates etc.

- Protection from GM food and chlorinated chicken

- Objective 1 funding for deprived areas and regions

- Financial services passport, enabling firms in the City to service the whole EU market

- Strong intellectual property protections

- Mutual recognition of professional qualifications

- Consular protection from any EU embassy outside the EU

- Minimum baseline of worker protections (which we can always improve on)

- Enhanced medical research prospects

- A friend to cosy up to against the might of the USA and China

After all that, do you *really* still begrudge 34p per day? If so, what's wrong with you?

MY COMMENTS

One overview I have is that the author is too young to have known what things were like pre-1973 and seems to assume that nothing can be done in cooperation with Europe unless one is a member of the EU.

Putting that aside, another general comment is that it would be instructive for the author - or sp - to divide the list into Essentials and Nice to Have, something done in business, to determine priorities and to provide perspective.

As to specifics . . .  I've said before that I don't subscribe to the major argument that the EU has saved Europe from war. Possibly one in which a (yet again) resurgent Germany invaded Belgium and tried to get back Alsace and Lorraine. Not to mention Prussia. It may well be, as sp says, that the founders of the EU forerunners had this as a motivation and aim - who the hell could blame them so soon after WW2? - but this is not a persuasive argument for events since then. Not for me, anyway. As the Romans put it - Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

A second way to divide the list would be:-

1. Those things lost to the UK which would have been retained if the UK had gone for an EFTA/ EEA model.

2. Those things lost to the UK which would have been retained if the UK had gone for Richard North's Flexcit, involving a gradual - and cooperative - exit over several years.

3. Those things lost to the UK because of Johnson's very poor and dishonest Brexit deal. These, of course, cover everything in the list above.

The purpose of this would to be show - admittedly academically - that it's not Brexit per se which has led to the current situation but the dreadful deal struck by the UK and the EU. It didn't really need to be this way.

The bottom line is that, with a bad deal done, no one really knows whether or not it'll prove beneficial to the UK in the longer run, whatever the near term hit on the economy (and my pension) turns out to be. As it is, Covid had considerably clouded the issue in the very near term, meaning that Boris Johnson is very much more lucky than competent. And that's something which surely must change. Possibly even before the next general election.

But, yes, some things have certainly been lost. For example the life enjoyed by Brits who lived here in Spain below the horizon and didn't seek residence and pay their Spanish taxes. As I've said, I find it difficult to feel sympathy for these folk. Likewise those who didn't live here for more than 60 days and rented out their property - tax-free - for much/most of the year. They've lost what they were never entitled to, it might be said. And they should have seen it coming and put their affairs in order before the deadline.



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