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Live News From Spain As It Happens

Keep up to date with all the latest news from Spain as it happens. The blog will be updated constantly throughout the day bringing you all the latest stories as they break.

Vodafone granted access to Telefónica's entire fibreoptic network
29 March 2017

AN HISTORIC deal between Vodafone and Spanish communications company Telefónica will allow the British network provider to access its entire fibreoptic network.

Reportedly, this includes the so-called 'non-regulated zone' – the 66 most heavily-populated cities and towns where Telefónica is not obliged to share its fibreoptic system, but has chosen to do so anyway – as well as a 'significant' chunk of its regulated network.

At present, Telefónica – which once held a monopoly in Spain and is still a major player in an increasingly fiercely-competitive market – has rolled out fibreoptic internet, or FTTH, to over 17 million buildings including apartment blocks and business premises, and Vodafone will be able to offer this extra-fast connection to customers based in a sizeable minority of them.

The deal between the two telecommunications giants will have a considerable impact on the digital connections market, substantially expanding Vodafone's potential slice of the market and rendering it more competitive than ever by multiplying the number of customers it can reach in addition to its own HFC and FTTH direct networks, as well as drastically reducing the investments needed by the British operator in fibreoptic infrastructre.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Theresa May pulls the trigger: Brits in Spain and Spaniards in UK wait for negotiations to begin
29 March 2017

BRITISH prime minister Theresa May has signed the paperwork to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, setting the clock to run on the UK's exit from the European Union.

Ambassador for the EU, Tim Barrow, will present the formal notice to Council of Europe president Donald Tusk today (Wednesday), which will officially be the first day of the two-year countdown.

The UK will now begin negotiations with the remaining EU-27, but despite anticipation on either side of the Channel, this does not automatically include trade agreements and how to handle movement of people: Article 50 is designed to start a process of settling debts, and does not cover anything to do with the outgoing member State's future relationship with Europe.

This means neither side is obliged to discuss or try to agree any measures to protect Brits living in EU countries, the highest number of whom are in Spain.

Neither does it mean Britain is required to make decisions about the hundreds of thousands of EU nationals living in the UK, of whom an estimated 100,000 are Spanish.

They include a sizeable Galician diaspora who moved to Britain in the 1950s, and surviving Civil War evacuees from all over Spain, as well as adults of all ages who have lived there for anything from a few months to 20 or more years.

Spaniards in Britain have the option to apply for UK citizenship after five years of residence, and joint nationality is available, but the situation for Brits in Spain may be very different.

Firstly, Spain only offers joint nationality to citizens of its former colonies, who can apply for dual or full citizenship after two years of residence, whilst everyone else has to prove 10 years of continuously living in the country.

Additionally, many Europeans in Spain – particularly pensioners and those living in 'expat belts' – speak little or no Spanish, which would preclude them from applying.

In practice, citizenship requirements are not very demanding – a multiple-choice quiz on aspects of legal, cultural, geographical and political life, and a test to prove Spanish language ability of level A2, equivalent to a good GCSE grade, are the only requisites besides not having a criminal record.

This is not impossible to study for from scratch in two years, and many town councils offer free Spanish classes.

But not everyone wants to apply for British or Spanish citizenship respectively, and many fear that doing so could cause problems for them if they need to spend an extended period in their native country, such as for caring for a family member.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Major expansion plans for Palma de Mallorca airport to cut delays
28 March 2017

PALMA de Mallorca airport is set to undergo a multi-million-euro revamp to meet increasing demand forecast for the next four years.

Air terminal governing body AENA plans to spend €297 million on Son Sant Joan, Spain's third-largest airport after Madrid's Adolfo Suárez-Barajasa and Barcelona's El Prat, having predicted that passenger numbers will rise from its current 26 million to an annual 28.5 million by the year 2021.

Already shifting 66 flights an hour, Son Sant Joan has now been given authorisation to transport 80 flights an hour, which means creating more space to keep delays to a minimum – especially during high tourist season.

The amount due to be invested in upgrading the airport is more than the sum it cost to build at the outset, and three times the bill for the controversial Palma Arena building.

Mallorca airport is not planning on increasing the number of flights beyond the 80 a day authorised, but says at least half the money will be used to expand the terminal for passengers' 'safety and comfort' and to cut down on delays.

The priority investment will be modernising the luggage-handling system, a job due to be carried out over 2018 and 2019, and security procedures will be improved over the next four years.

Additional corridors will be built from departure lounges to reach the suspension bridges used for passengers to embark, to avoid their having to walk or bus across the runway.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Spanish toy exports to UK plummet due to Brexit vote
28 March 2017

TOY exports from Spain to the UK have shrunk in the last nine months due to the uncertainty surrounding the impending Brexit process and the fall of the pound sterling against the euro.

The Spanish Toy Manufacturers' Association (AEFJ) says it had been seeing growth of nearly 18% per annum until the EU referendum led to a 'leave' result, and that 2016 had been its worst year of the decade for UK trade.

This does not mean the industry is struggling per se, however, says the AEFJ – already very international, Britain was its fourth-largest market and has now dropped to fifth behind Germany.

But purchases from the United Kingdom have definitely dropped, the AEFJ says, coinciding with the devaluing of the sterling on the very day the referendum results were known, on June 23.

Back in 2013, toy manufacturers in Spain – mostly based in the south-west of the province of Alicante, in towns such as Biar and Tibi, where the industry is overwhelmingly the mainstay of the local economy – sold just under €424 million of their wares abroad, or 7.1% more than in 2012, and thought at the time that it was their poorest year since the financial crisis.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Cable car opens again in Teide National Park after 238 tourists became trapped overnight
27 March 2017

TEIDE National Park's cable car was back in use again this weekend for the first time since over 200 tourists became trapped due to a mechanical fault.

The safety brake became blocked whilst a group of holidaymakers were halfway up to the refuge at the top of the Montaña Blanca mountain – one of the Tenerife volcanic park's most popular attractions – and led to another cable car full of visitors being jammed heading back the other way.

Meanwhile, dozens more were stuck at the top, and a total of 238 tourists had to spend the night in the ancient chapel.

None were hurt, and the mild weather conditions meant nobody had to be treated for exposure, but for safety reasons the cable car was shut down pending a full inspection and repair.

It was finally open again at the weekend, and tourists have now been up to the refuge and back without incident.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Ex-defence minister Pedro Morenés to become Spanish ambassador for USA
26 March 2017

FORMER defence minister Pedro Morenés has been named as Spanish ambassador in the USA in Spain's bid to 'get closer' to Donald Trump's administration.

Mariano Rajoy's cabinet wants to gain 'greater access' to the Republican leader's government through contacts Morenés maintains in the US military, given the North American nation's concerns about national security and defence.

Morenés will be the second non-diplomat to take on an ambassador role, after ex-education minister José Ignacio Wert became Spain's representative for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is based in Paris.

New foreign affairs minister Alfonso Dastis has said he prefers such roles to be given to actual diplomats – of which he is one – but the PP-led government says that in 'exceptional circumstances', this does not need to be the case and Morenés' contacts in the US make him the ideal candidate.

Among the opposition, left-wing Podemos has called for Morenés to speak to Parliament and explain his strategic plans for Spain's future relations with Trump's government.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Non-religious funerals a growing concept in Spain: Rock music, funny anecdotes and alcohol are replacing the traditional solemn mass
26 March 2017

TWO in three marriages are civil ceremonies and only half of all children are christened in Spain – and now, non-religious funerals are on the rise.

Traditionally, a Catholic funeral involves a sombre mass – normally in Latin – and an open coffin where no expense is spared in making the deceased look as attractive as possible.

The ceremony is normally held within 24 hours or a maximum of 48 hours after death, and once the religious rites have taken place, the grieving family and friends go home.

Misunderstanding has arisen between Spaniards and northern European expatriates – the tradition of setting up monuments such as benches with a plaque and photograph, of playing the deceased's favourite music, turning up in coloured clothes instead of black attire, and holding a boozy party afterwards to 'celebrate the life' of the departed loved one has often been considered macabre by the native Spanish population, or at the very least, disrespectful.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Debate rages on over Spanish time zones as clocks go forward tonight: Would GMT really make a difference to working life?
26 March 2017

SPAIN joins the rest of Europe in turning its clocks forward tonight (Saturday) – or rather at 02.00 on Sunday morning – as the debate continues on whether the country should drop back an hour to join the UK, Portugal and Morocco in their earlier time zone.

Experts in physics have recently refuted the ongoing assumption that Spain is an hour ahead of its geographic time because dictator General Franco wanted to align the clocks with his allies in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, saying it was in fact an agreement made with French president Général Charles de Gaulle to streamline inter-European communications.

And they do not agree that Spain 'acts as though it is jet-lagged', recalling that many other parts of Europe – such as western France, Belgium and The Netherlands – are in the wrong time zone and should be on GMT in winter and BST in summer, but that their inhabitants have, like Spain, adapted accordingly.

The 'jet lag' would explain a great deal about Spain's rather unique daily routine – shops rarely open much before 10.00; lunch starts between around 13.30 and 15.00, and evening dinner is somewhere between 20.00 and 21.00 in winter and as late as 23.00 in summer – and tourists mistakenly stay off the beach at noon to avoid the 'midday sun' when, in fact, due to the clock change, this would be at 13.00, but in Spain is at 14.00.

 

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Betanzos flies flag at half-mast in tribute to London terror victim Aysha, who had 'many friends and relatives' in Galicia
24 March 2017

THE Galicia town of Betanzos is flying its flag at half-mast today (Friday) in an official day of mourning for its descendant Aysha Ahmet Caldelas Frade, 43, who lost her life in the terror attack on Westminster Bridge in London.

A town of just 15,000 inhabitants and over 1,000 kilometres from the UK capital is feeling London's pain as though the massacre happened in its own market square – Aysha's mother was born in Betanzos and the deceased's sisters live and work there.

Aysha, whose dad is from Cyprus and met her mum in London, was born in the metropolis and lived mostly in the centre, spending several years in a flat in Ladbroke Grove, but she has a huge family network in the Betanzos area on her mother's side.

Her sisters, Silvia and Michelle, own and run two language schools teaching English to natives in the province of A Coruña.

Although a Londoner all her life, Aysha felt 'very Spanish', supporting FC Deportivo A Coruña and being a big fan of Enrique Iglesias and Colombian rocker Juanés.

“People were saying on Wednesday evening that someone from Betanzos had been affected by the attack, but nobody wanted to believe it,” admits mayor Ramón García Vázquez.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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Galicia woman, 43, one of the four dead in London terrorist attack
23 March 2017

THE woman known to have been killed on Westminster Bridge in yesterday's terrorist attack has been named as 43-year-old Aysha Frade, a Spaniard working as an English teacher in London.

Her father is from Cyprus and met her mother, from the Galicia town of Betanzos (A Coruña province) in the British capital, where Aysha, who has two daughters, has always lived.

Aysha's parents are thought to have moved back to Betanzos, where her two elder sisters own and run a language school teaching English to Spaniards.

The deceased is said to have spent her month-long summer holiday every year in Betanzos with her family and enjoying the town's patron saint fiestas.

Rumours had already reached Betanzos before Aysha's death was confirmed by officials, says mayor Ramón García Vázquez.

The 'quickie' attack took place on the anniversary of the Brussels bombing last year, and just as MPs were discussing the imminent triggering of Article 50 to start the Brexit negotiations.

Senior MI5 officials say the days of wide-scale bomb blasts and plane hijacking appear to be over, since they involve extensive planning, logistics and take several months to arrange, giving the Secret Services time to find out and thwart them.

Terrorists are now opting for quicker and more spontaneous methods to avoid their being frustrated by Intelligence – attacks which involve a lower death toll but are, nevertheless, designed to cause just as much media frenzy, says the MI5.

Movements such as the Jihad 'crusade' seek as much attention as possible, and thrive on social unrest and division.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com



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