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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.

BCE rates to remain unchanged until at least summer 2019
15 June 2018

CENTRAL European Bank (BCE) bosses have opted to keep interest rates at their current level until at least summer 2019, or longer if necessary, as part of their continued strategy to reach inflation objects and promote growth in the common currency area.

Lending to high-street banks by the BCE will attract interest at 0%, although the Eurozone governing body will continue to charge 0.4% for excess of reserves at one day, or marginal deposit facility.

It will continue with one-day lending rates, or marginal credit facilities, of 0.25%.

This conclusion was reached by the board of governors today (Thursday) at its meeting in the Latvian capital of Riga.

During the session, the BCE also decided to reduce debt-buying to a maximum of €15 billion per month and cease altogether after December.

This low interest policy also suggests the Euribor, or Eurozone consumer interest rate, will remain at rock bottom – having been below 1% for five-and-a-half years and dropping into minus figures for the first time ever in February 2016, the month of May closed this year on -0.188%.

A very slight rise is predicted for the end of this June, to -0.181%.

Spanish mortgages and some personal loans and credit cards are linked to the Euribor, and homeowners have been enjoying not only exceptionally low buying prices, but the cheapest mortgages in history.

Outside of major cities and sought-after beach locations, it is now possible to buy a medium-sized apartment with a mortgage of around €300 a month – albeit banks now require a minimum deposit of 20%, or 40% for a second or subsequent property, and taxes and fees in addition make up 12.5% of the purchase price.



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Government to make healthcare free and universal again 'within six weeks'
15 June 2018

SPAIN'S new government is working on a Bill of Law, or Royal Decree that will once again make free healthcare universal for everyone living in the country, irrespective of their legal status.

The previous right-wing PP-led government stopped healthcare for anyone who was not legally resident, except for emergency treatment, all care for the under-18s and for pregnant or post-partum women, back in 2012.

And hospitals and clinics did not always have the same criteria as to what constituted an emergency.

An overwhelming number of doctors defied the ruling, which they said was 'cruel' and 'leaving people to die or stay ill', and continued to treat anyone who walked through their surgery doors without asking questions.

One of the most vocal in this sense was the region of Valencia, whose newly-elected regional government, in 2015, announced healthcare would be available free to anyone who needed it – and who were ordered by the State and the courts to follow the rules.

Health experts have said restricting care and expecting those not eligible to pay for it does not actually save money – in fact, it costs more, because most of those left untreated would be unable to fund their own medical attention and would eventually become an emergency, costing more to assist because the problem had been left unmedicated for too long.

Also, with undocumented migrants refused all but emergency or childbirth-related care, the risk of infectious tropical conditions was high.



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Culture minister Màxim Huerta resigns over 'tax issues'
13 June 2018

CURRENTLY the shortest-lived minister in Spain's democracy, author and newspaper columnist Màxim Huerta has quit his role as head of culture, media and sports after leaked reports of how he has a previous charge of tax evasion against his name.

Between 2006 and 2008 inclusive, Huerta – who writes for the left-wing daily newspaper 20 Minutos– avoided paying €218,000 in income tax by setting up a front company for his annual declarations, meaning he was liable for less.

At the time, Huerta was a TV presenter, and the case was finally resolved last year by the regional High Court of Justice in Madrid with a verdict ordering him to refund the unpaid tax and stump up a fine to the tune of €366,000.

The dormant company was 'open' from 2006 to 2016 inclusive, but Huerta used it as a 'structure' for his tax payments for the first three only.

During these three years, he earnt around €800,000 for presenting the Telecinco show El Programa de Ana Rosa – which is still running and, famously, recently featured stage saboteur Jimmy Jump camping outside ex-Catalunya president Carles Puigdemont's prison cell in Germany.

Huerta insists that his dispute with the tax authority was due to 'a change in fiscal criteria' and that he had always been 'up to date' with his dues.

“Invoicing through a company was common practice in the profession and was not considered illegal at the time,” he insists.



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Fernando Hierro replaces Lopetegui as national team manager
13 June 2018

MÁLAGA-BORN sports director for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Fernando Hierro, will take over as national team coach today in place of outgoing Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked this lunchtime after Real Madrid leaked the news that he had been taken on as club manager.

He was due to give a press conference at 17.30 mainland Spain time at the Krasnodar Stadium, then hold the first training session with the national team ahead of their opening match on Friday against current European champions, Portugal.

Hierro was one of the names thought likely to take over from Lopetegui, who was fired after Real Madrid leaked his new appointment as manager taking over from outgoing 'Zizou' Zidane.

Another possibility was Albert Celades, current under-21 national team manager who had travelled with Lopetegui to Russia.

Hierro, 50 – a year younger than Lopetegui – is well known to the national squad both as sports director and former footballer.



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Spain sack manager two days before World Cup opening match
13 June 2018

Julen Lopetegui has been axed as Spain manager after it emerged that he had agreed to take over at Real Madrid after the World Cup.

Real Madrid announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui would succeed Zinedine Zidane on a three-year-deal with the club.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) said today (Wednesday) it had dismissed Lopetegui because the negotiations with Real Madrid occurred "without any information to the RFEF".

The Spanish Football Association president, Luis Rubiales, was supposed to be at the FIFA congress in Moscow on Wednesday but flew to Spain’s training base late on Tuesday night to deal with the matter.

“We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish him the greatest of luck,” said Rubiales.

“The negotiations have occurred without any information to the Spanish FA and we were informed just five minutes before the press release," said Rubiales, making it clear he was unhappy with the way the situation had been handled.

Lopetegui became Spain manager in 2016 following Vicente del Bosque's retirement, and remained unbeaten throughout his short reign.

Spain won 14 of 20 games under Lopetegui's guidance, drawing the remaining six.

No hints have been given as to who might step in for Lopetegui at this late stage, but the RFEF head: “We are going to touch as little as possible. We are working on it. When we know we will tell you.



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Urdangarín sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison
12 June 2018

KING Felipe's brother-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail after his custodial term was reduced on appeal by five months.

He will be able to choose which prison he goes to if he hands himself in rather than waiting to be arrested.

The former Duke of Palma, who lost his title when found guilty of a multi-million public fund embezzlement racket in which he took advantage of his Royal connections to gain publicity for his cause, had attempted unsuccessfully to strike a bargain in which he was sentenced to no more than two years, given that, for a first offence, anything less than this does not have to be served.

Urdangarín (pictured), who is married to HRH Felipe VI's youngest sister, the Infanta (non-Crown Princess) Cristina, set up what purported to be a non-profit association, the Nóos Institute, aimed at promoting and organising sporting and cultural events and attracting public funds to pay for them.

Urdangarín and his Nóos partner Diego Torres inflated the estimates and invoices involved and pocketed the difference.

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Spain's first 3D zebra crossing forces drivers to brake
12 June 2018

A THREE-DIMENSIONAL zebra crossing that looks as though pedestrians are hopping across raised blocks is being painted in Almussafes (Valencia province).

The yellow-and-white crossing looks two-dimensional to those on foot using it, but for drivers approaching it, their instinct is to stop dead so as not to collide with an apparent barrier of nearly half a metre in height.




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Spain to take in 629 migrants rejected by Italy
11 June 2018

SPAIN will take in the 629 migrants on board the Aquarius 'for humanitarian reasons' after Italy's right-wing government refused to let them dock in the country.

The would-be refugees were rescued by the charity SOS Méditerranée, but Italian authorities sent them to Malta instead.

Malta, however, also refused to let them disembark on national territory.

Pedro Sánchez's government volunteered to take them, and they are set to dock in the port of Valencia in the next few hours.

Regional president of Valencia, Ximo Puig – on the same party as Sánchez – says he has already given authorisation to Spain's deputy president Carmen Calvo for the craft to dock in the harbour of the country's third-largest city.

Puig slammed other European governments for 'abandoning' the migrants in the Mediterranean, calling it 'deeply unfair'.

Valencia's deputy regional president Mònica Oltra, from the left-wing party Compromís, recalled that her and Puig's cabinet had set up a complete refugee settlement system 'many years ago'.



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Spanish is 'world's sexiest accent', according to survey
11 June 2018

A SURVEY by travel guide giant The Lonely Planet has revealed that the sexiest accent in the world is Spanish.

Native speakers of the language of Cervantes in Europe even beat the French – albeit by a slim margin – and the Italians, who come sixth out of nine, for the most attractive accent.

A total of 700 people were polled on Facebook, although their own nationality split has not been revealed.

After Spain and France, the people of Ireland are said to have the third-sexiest accent, followed by the Scots, the Australians and mainland Italians.



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Madrid teen saves driver's life with CPR
11 June 2018

A 19-YEAR-OLD man saved the life of a driver who suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his car and mounted the pavement in Santa María de la Cabeza (Madrid) yesterday (Sunday).

Manu was walking through town when he saw the driver, 47, apparently 'drowning' and in pain as his car swerved onto the pathway, and rushed immediately to his aid.

He called emergency services and, seeing that the motorist had lost consciousness, began performing CPR.

Manu kept up his efforts until a SAMUR life-support ambulance reached the scene and paramedics were able to take over.

It is believed the patient has survived, although the Civil Protection, manning the ambulance, said he would have died or at least suffered irreversible damage had it not been for the teenager's presence of mind.



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