Sunday, September 07, 2014

Portuguese tolls; Spain and the EU; New wine; & Podemos.


A year or three ago, the Portuguese government resolved to try and reduce its deficit by introducing tolls on every decent road into and through Portugal. To say it was badly done would be generous. For it was chaotic. For a while, no one knew which were the relevant roads nor how to pay the tolls on roads where pay-booths weren't installed. The height of the nonsense was having to pay €50 for a thingamajig that went on your windscreen and deducted the amount as you went past unmanned booths. But you could only buy these once you got to a Portuguese town. Worse, if you were charged €10 on a day trip to Portugal, you lost the €40 balance after a month. Anyway, things were eventually sorted out to the extent that electronic doo-dahs (and cameras) were installed on all relevant roads so you could be charged as you moved from a free road to a toll road. The problem was that was nothing to stop you - other than the risk of being stopped by the police - from driving all over Portugal without paying a cent. In other words, gambling that you wouldn't be pulled over and handed a large bill. But that was yesterday. The Portuguese have now announced they're owed €11m euros by drivers from Galicia and that they intend to get it back from individual drivers who've been photographed on a toll-free spree. Allegedly, several thousand letters have already been delivered and many more are to come, especially to the owner of a Galician transport company which has run up a million euros in fees and fines. But where, I ask, did they get the details of vehicle ownership from? Is there a central EU register? I think we should be told.

Talking of the EU . . . I predicted years ago - it wasn't difficult - that the Spanish love affair with it would end sometime soon. Two recent examples are the Vigo fishermen and the Asturian coalminers, both of whom have seen their work reduce as a result of edicts from Brussels. The Asturian miners are particularly annoyed that, while their mines are being closed, new ones are being opened in, guess where, Germany. And who can blame them? The Spanish government has tried to help them but has been told its subsidies are illegal. So that's that.

Vid is the Spanish for 'vine'. My neighbour, Jacobo, this week showed me a wine new to me - Vid Vicious. See here for the foto on the bottle.

Finally . . . Click here for a progress report on Spain's newest political party - Podemos.

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