Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Thoughts fron Galicia: 2.5.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.

More than half of Spain's university students - it says here - would prefer to work overseas than here in Spain, with by far the majority favouring the USA. One wonders how realistic these kids are.

As for Spain's adults . . .  Here's a Guardian article on the attempts by Spain's newish party of the Left, Podemos, to censure the corrupt PP administration for its limitless corruptionIt gives a good insight into the tribalism I've mentioned. I share the overview of professor Jímenez that Spain suffers from a particular kind of corruption. As he puts it: Public services here work pretty efficiently and without any corruption. What we have is grand corruption at high levels and it’s linked to high-level contacts between senior party members and powerful businesspeople. Which is not exactly a secret, of course.

There's another Guardian article at the end of this post. It comments on the allegedly disastrous meeting last week between the British Prime Minister and the EU President on Brexit. And asks how anyone could possibly be surprised it wasn't a raging success. Incidentally, a report in another British paper today gives the lie to Mr Juncker's claim that he was totally unaware of and shocked by Mrs May's demand for an upfront deal on citizen rights.

Which reminds me . . .  I read yesterday of the answer given to the question of what the head of the Spanish government would do next. This was: Nothing. He's a Gallego. I was tempted to see this as referring to our President Rajoy - famous for silence and masterful inactivity - but, in fact, it was said of Generalisimo Franco.

You have to laugh at the labels one is given on sites such as Tripadvisor and booking.com. I've been a Genius on the former for some time and the latter have just elevated me to Wordsmith: Level 1. This, of course, is because I write reviews. Most of them positive, some of them negative. Incidentally, yesterday I re-visited the booking.com page of the Casa Rural we stayed in in Vitorino de Piães last week. Several items listed as being therein certainly weren't when we finally got to the place. But I can confirm that Toilet paper was. As for the comment Guests love it, one's hard put to appreciate how booking knew this, given that we were the first ones. And as for We speak your language . . . Words fail me.

I've confessed more than once to bewilderment at the Pontevedra city retail scene, with places closing with monotonous regularity and then re-opening as – often - yet another jewellery store. Anyway, yesterday I passed what used to be a clothes shop, near the market in the old quarter. Now it's yet another health food shop. I think.


The line above the entrance reads: Healthy and Organic Food. 



So, I guess it's actually more than just another place selling the latest fashion in seeds, pulses and oils.

Finally . . .  There's a Bretoña up in the north, near Mondoñedo. And now I find there's one here in Pontevedra province, just outside the city. The former is said to be the site of a 6th century settlement of British monks, from either Grand Bretaña or Pequeña Bretaña in France. Does anyone know anything about the latter? One suggestion is that the name stems from the Brigante tribe but this seems unlikely to me.

THE EU ARTICLE

Why is anyone surprised the UK and EU do not agree about Brexit?

London’s pro-Brexit media and politicians should have known something was awry before May and Juncker’s disastrous dinner                                Dan Roberts: The Guardian.

Like a collision between supertankers, the clash between British and European Brexit negotiators has been a long time coming, but no less spectacular for it.

The EU course was set at least six months ago, when European commission negotiators first determined that the most practical way to disentangle Britain’s complex membership was to separate out the even more vexed question of future trade relations, which requires unanimous national approval, and leave it until later. Draft guidelines published in March by the European council confirmed that leaders in other EU capitals also viewed this as the best way to maximise their chances of getting Britain to help fill holes in the budget before it leaves.

But the direction of the UK government has been equally clear for almost as long. Relying in part on EU constitutional law for support, British officials have argued that it would be absurd to discuss how the country will leave without, in the words of article 50, also “taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the union”. The fact that it will be easier for Theresa May to write a cheque if she has something to show for it should not have escaped anyone.

Yet when it finally came, the revelation of these two diametrically opposed positions still had the capacity to send shockwaves throughout Europe. It took four days for news of a disastrous Downing Street dinner to reach public attention via a German newspaper leak. As if discovering gambling in Casablanca, the bank holiday air in London was thick with furious government sympathisers accusing the Europeans of trying to poison talks by revealing the proceedings of a supposedly private supper.

The surprise should have been that it took this long for London’s pro-Brexit political and media classes to notice something was awry.

Wednesday’s dinner was the third time May and her senior team have met senior EU leaders in recent days, to hear remarkably similar messages. The European council president, Donald Tusk, was first sent to relay the necessary information on 6 April. When the European parliament president, Antonio Tajani, made the same pointduring a visit to London on 20 April, his mobile phone rang within two hours of him leaving Downing Street, as the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, urgently sought to find out if the point was sinking in.

In the end, it was only when Barnier and his boss, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, delivered the message in person that the penny began to drop in chancelleries and newsrooms across Europe.

News of May and Juncker’s disastrous Downing Street bust-up was first relayed to Angela Merkel by the time the EU delegation returned to their London hotel. Juncker followed up the next morning with a personal phone call to the German chancellor, who incorporated her fury into a scheduled speech to the German parliament.

Whether they come back from this first act denouement in time to move on to the next drama depends in part on whether both sides start taking a more realistic account of their opponent’s position. 

German government sources are already hinting at a possible compromise, involving the UK agreeing to a rough formula for calculating its divorce settlement rather than a final figure. British ministers privately acknowledge the need to pay something, even if still riling their EU interlocutors in public by questioning the legality of any claim.

The fear among business leaders is that the political clash suits hardliners on both sides: British eurosceptics who favour a “clean Brexit”, rather than any further messy compromises, and Brussels officials whose real aim is to send a salutary warning to other nationalist movements tempted to agitate for their own exit.


Until the opposing politicians are no longer “shocked” to discover they have differing views of the talks, little else can proceed.

1 comment:

Patrick Glenn said...

If they can't get work in Spain they can certainly get work here. No documents required. But the violent crime here is so bad that I really would advise against it.

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