December 2013 Archive

Spain to Exit from bank bailout

No one really knows what’s in store for us in 2014, but in Spain there’s one thing that’s certain. In January, Spain will exit the EU’s bank bailout programme, as Ireland has just done.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, President of the EU’s Eurogroup, speaking at a meeting of the group of finance ministers, declared "Both countries have always shown strong commitment towards the implementation of their programmes. This has shown results, as the recent developments on the financial markets have demonstrated. The Irish and Spanish people have gone through a difficult period, but I am now confident that their efforts will pay off in the coming years. Now these economies are back on the road to recovery. We fully support Spain’s decision to exit the programme. Spanish banks are now stronger, more resilient, and supervision and regulation have been tightened.”.

Spain has taken the bold step of declining a precautionary European Stability Mechanism (ESM) credit line in reserve. The ESM is a rescue fund created to provide a safety net for heavily indebted governments. Well, that’s confidence for you, even though sadly, it’s not a confidence shared by quite a few reputable financial commentators

As you’ll probably recall, in June 2012, the Eurogroup approved up to 100 billion euros for the recapitalization of Spanish banks, who were hit by the collapse of the real estate/construction sector. In the event, the Spanish government only drew on the north end of some 42 billion euros of the funds available to it.

So what does Spain have to do from now on. Well 60000 firms are now exporters – that’s 9% up on last year. It’s reckoned this has been aided by lower wages, getting Spain’s labour costs quite close to those of Germany.

Experts say that Spain must continue to leave behind it’s old economic model – like the one that relied on speculative asset bubbles, such as property, and unsupportable private debt. They say an export driven economy, without brittle bubbles, is the way forward, and so perhaps there is now a little glimmer of light at the end of that gloomy economic tunnel.  

 

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Posted by on Saturday 28th December 2013

EHIC UK European Health Insurance Card

The people entitled to use this card are those who are in Spain temporarily (on holiday or staying at a second home for some months of the year). This assumes you consider that you still live mainly in the UK. Then, if you are a UK student, in Spain, studying as part of a UK course – then a UK EHIC is the correct way to gain health cover during your stay in Spain. 

On the other hand, if you live mainly in Spain, or are planning to do so, you have to register for state healthcare in another way and this will be explained later. If you are a UK state pensioner/insured person who is registered for state healthcare in Spain, the UK EHIC is only for use outside of Spain, while on holiday perhaps, but within the European Union.
 
If your entitlement to use a UK EHIC is without any doubt, the card will cover you for all medically necessary treatment for the duration of your temporary stay in Spain. Medically necessary treatment is defined as treatment decided by a doctor and will be given on the same basis as an insured resident in Spain. It can include routine or specialist treatment and the monitoring of existing conditions, as long as the treatment cannot wait until you get home to the UK.

The card cannot be used to see a private doctor and is only recognized in state hospitals and health centers. If you want to travel to Spain just to get health treatment, then the EHIC cannot be used. Instead, you need to obtain form S2 from your local health authority in the UK. The same S2 form is needed if you are pregnant and want to give birth in Spain, as once again, the EHIC will not cover you.

It’s important to emphasize that an EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not give you access to private healthcare or cover costs such as a return flight to your home country, and it most certainly does not cover the cost of lost or stolen property

As mentioned earlier, if your main residence is in Spain or are about to retire there, then healthcare is obtained in a different way. Assuming you do not work or pay social security contributions in Spain, and assuming too you do not receive Spanish state pension or benefit, and have never received Spanish unemployment benefit – then you need to acquire form S1 from the International Pension Centre or your local INSS in the UK.

This needs to be presented to your local Department of Social Security in Spain, where they will provide a certificate that confirms your status. This certificate is needed when you apply for your health card (TSI – Tarjeta Sanitara Individual). This card will give you the same cover as enjoyed by Spanish nationals. Once you have this TSI card, you take it to your local medical centre, to register with a doctor, and they will allocate a SIP card. You have to carry this with you at all times and present it whenever you need to visit your doctor, or collect prescribed medication from the chemist.

Finally, it’s important to say that, if you live in Spain and regularly visit relatives in the UK, you need to acquire and carry a Spanish issued EHIC card, to obtain free UK treatment. 

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Posted by on Thursday 12th December 2013

Emergency Numbers for the Moraira Area

When you own a property in Spain, whether it’s your permanent residence or your holiday home – it makes sense to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. Keep a list of phone numbers in a safe place ready for use if ever they are needed. The likelihood is that they never will be required, but better to be safe than sorry. Listed below are some national emergency numbers but it is better to use local numbers if you can.

National Emergency Numbers

All emergency services    112

Guardia                                062

National police                    091

Local police                        092

Fire (Bomberas)                085

Red Cross Ambulance (National)    902

When chemists are closed there’s likely to be a "Farmacia de Guardia” or Duty Chemist available. An out of hours rota is posted on doors/windows at each chemist in the area.


Emergency Numbers for Teulada/Moraira

Town Hall                          965 740 158  or   902 239 077

Guardia Civil                     965 744 044

Municipal police                965 740 946 or 902 239 092

Medical Emergency         965 740 176 (Teulada) or 966 490 204 (Moraira)

Red Cross Ambulance    965 740 950

Fire                                     965 780 080 or 965 780 085

Electrical Breakdowns    965 730 281

For emergency chemist/or vet, emergency water leaks & Electrical After Hours emergencies Contact Municipal Police


Emergency Numbers for Javea

Town Hall                        965 790 500

Guardia Civil                   965 791 085

Municipal Police             965 790 081

Medical Emergency       965 792 500

Red Cross Ambulance  965 791 961

Fire                                    965 780 080

Electrical Breakdowns   965 791 184

As with Teulada/ Moraira, you should contact the Municipal Police in case of emergencies involving chemists or vets, electrical after hours emergencies and emergencies that concern serious water leaks.

Calpe and Benitachell each have a similar list of their own emergency numbers. These can be obtained via the Internet.                         

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Posted by on Sunday 8th December 2013

Creating a garden in Spain

When you buy a property in Spain, once the interior is developed to your satisfaction, you’ll want a garden that looks as good and is appropriate for an outside lifestyle. There are many ways to approach this and I'd just like to pass on some ideas I have come across.

Most plots here are not flat, so it’s surely a good idea to create steps, pathways and terraces that utilise natural slopes. Many Moraira villas have terraced gardens of various sizes that give either shade or sunshine according to the time of day. Comfortable cushioned chairs and a small table make an excellent seating area for reading or relaxing with a cup of coffee. Then there are interesting materials that can be used on these terraces to make them really attractive, like

natural stone in an informal crazy paving style – running this same stone through all steps and paths.

Then coloured pots can be positioned to add interest to the terraces, perhaps planted with colourful sweet smelling geraniums. On the other hand, if there’s a terrace where you enjoy an evening glass of wine or two, be sure to place a plant called "Galan de Noche” nearby. In English it’s called "Lady of the Night” and that’s because its little white flowers release their intoxicating scent at night.

Planting shrubs at an early stage of garden development is a good idea to quickly create shade and wind protection. The evergreen Oliander is a good choice for this purpose. It’s hardy and drought tolerant and will grow into a large tree-like shrub. Flowers can be white, pink or red. One slight negative is that it’s poisonous, if the nectar is sucked or the leaves are chewed, so even if you’re hungry, don’t do that!  Another evergreen shrub that will look good is Callistemon or Bottlebrush. As the name implies, the red flowers are bristly like a brush for cleaning bottles. It will grow to a couple of meters in height, and will look very impressive. That’s also true of sun loving Hibiscus plants, and here it’s the range of flower colours that’s impressive

Bignonia Campsis is a favourite since it flowers in early spring and lasts all summer. It blooms in clusters and each tubular shaped flower on the cluster is some 8cm long in a beautiful deep fiery orange colour. Ideally for Spain, it doesn’t want to be over-watered, and will cover a wall, a fence or a pergola in no time at all, giving welcome shade to the spot

Another plant that will grow and cover speedily, is the trusty.Bougainvillea. Its flower colour range is excellent, the most common being a gorgeous magenta – but crimson, deep maroon, orange, pink and white are also readily available.

Another "must have” range of plants, especially for seating areas and the entrance to the property, are those with perfume. Here you are urged to consider jasmines, roses, lavenders, gardenias, mock oranges, stephanotis and the fast growing frangipani vine, along with freesias and lilies.

There are lots of centres around that produce and sell statues in a variety of shapes and forms – from small animals, elves (I hesitate to call then gnomes) and toadstalls to elegant toga clad ladies holding urns or playing an instrument. We opted for this latter category.

If your garden site is indeed sloping, then it’s a good idea to build a few retaining walls, especially around your terrace areas, then back-filling them with topsoil will give you useful planting areas, with rocks forming attractive compartments for pretty trailing evergreen plants with remarkable and colourful flowers.

Of course, flowers are an essential ingredient of your garden, but don’t forget the architectural types of plants – like aloes and cordylines. They can be as stunning as any bed of flowers.

We have, with some reluctance, decided against ponds or water features in our garden. The fear of providing breeding facilities for mosquitos outweighed our love of the sound of trickling water around our reading locations.

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Posted by on Wednesday 4th December 2013