Foreigners lose real estate interest in Spain due to the pandemic and instability

The effects that Brexit could have and the economic evolution in Europe were presumed to be the two great conditioning factors of last year for the real estate sector without anyone thinking that a third element would produce a greater collapse in the real estate business. And it is that not only has the purchase of houses collapsed, real estate investment fell by about 30%, to 9,000 million euros.

The coronavirus has produced an adjustment in the global economy, especially in countries with the highest exposure such as Spain. The low mobility and the economic collapse that Europe is suffering have caused foreign investors to paralyze part of their operations.

Despite the situation, some reports highlight that the high capital in the market, together with interest rates at historic lows and the returns offered by the large-scale real estate sector, specifically in the purchase of offices, retail and logistics, allow the prospects to be less negative.

Unfavorable prospects

The activity in the purchase of flats is, on the other hand, much worse. The College of Registrars highlights in the report for the third quarter of 2020 the progressive decline that has occurred in the purchase of homes by foreigners in Spain, a trend that will not be modified until the problems arising from the health crisis are solved and get back to mobility safely. The fall in the year as a whole can be spectacular, although it is expected that in the last three months there has been a slight recovery.

Last year began with a fairly acceptable behavior, since in the first quarter foreigners bought 14,850 houses throughout the Spanish territory, slightly higher than the 14,800 operations closed in the fourth quarter of 2019. On the other hand, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the second quarter and the consequent closure of borders caused a catastrophe in the market. According to data from the College of Registrars, only between April and last June only 8,000 operations were carried out.

The British, first but in decline

The third quarter of 2020 was much better thanks to the opening of borders and foreigners being able to visit Spain again. Of the 8,000 houses sold to foreigners between April and June, it rose to 11,300 in the three summer months. Despite Brexit, the breakdown by nationality keeps the British in the first position, with a weight of 13.01% and about 1,500 purchases of flats, compared to less than 1,000 in the second quarter.

The French occupy the second position with 8.98% of purchases made by foreigners, exceeding 1,000 home purchases. After the French, there are Belgians with 8.28% and about 950 operations and Germans with 8.28%. After these nationalities, there are Moroccans with 6.57%, Romanians with 4.79%, Italians with 4.71% and Swedes with 4.47%.

Although the British continue to take first place, they are in clear decline due in part to Brexit and lower purchasing power. From representing about 32% in 2009 – in the midst of the crisis in the sector due to the bursting of the real estate bubble – they are already below 15%. The Balearic Islands are still the preferred place to buy houses for foreigners, followed by the Canary Islands and the Valencian Community in third place.

In the coming months, we will see the effect that the pandemic continues to have and the repercussions derived from Brexit. Everything indicates that the fall in demand on the British side will continue. The economic evolution of Europe will condition the behavior of other countries. Short-term forecasts are below 12% in the global set of home sales.

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Commerce Andalusia qualifies 2020 as a “perfect storm” for the sector

The Confederation of Andalusian merchants, Comercio Andalucía, has affirmed, through a statement, that 2020 “has been a disastrous year” for local commerce, when the negative consequences of the 2008 economic crisis have not yet disappeared.

According to Andalusian merchants, in 2020 there has been “the perfect storm” for a sector that came from complicated years and for which the total closure decreed by the state of alarm was the final highlight.

Commerce Andalusia has ensured that not even the reopening, after the first state of alarm, has been enough to improve the sales of the local commerce, since the situation of uncertainty generated by the Covid-19 has caused consumption to retract and fall billing at unthinkable levels.

In this sense, Andalusian merchants have stated that sales in commerce have fallen by 50% in 2020 compared to 2019, which is a very negative figure for a sector that is vital for the economy of Andalusia.

Commerce Andalusia recalled that a similar decline already occurred in the previous crisis, although it was not in a single year, but in the period from 2007 to 2014, so the current situation can be described as “very virulent” and very little time has had devastating effects.

Along these lines, Andalusian merchants have said that a savage reconversion is taking place in the sector, which, according to their forecasts, could destroy 25% of the commercial fabric.

Commerce Andalusia is convinced that this situation is unsustainable for an economy such as Andalusia, since commerce generates 23% of employment, more than 400,000 jobs of which 60% are occupied by women, and has a volume of business of 85,000 million euros, 11.5% of the GDP of Andalusia.

For this reason, Andalusian merchants have insisted on the need to have a direct aid plan as the only viable formula to re-float a sector that is made up of 140,000 companies, 30% of the total number of companies in Andalusia, and 170,000 establishments. .

Finally, Comercio Andalucía has affirmed that, without these direct aid, “we are doomed to see local commerce disappear as we know it today, which will cause very negative effects on the structuring and social cohesion of the territory, both of the cities as in the rural world “.

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Barcelona stops subsidizing the IBI to pay aid for the covid crisis

  • The City Council no longer reduces the tax on single-parent families because “the emergency situation requires redistribution of material effects”

  • The consistory reminds the recipients that it has had to create a “social shock plan” in the face of the avalanche of requests for help due to the pandemic

Or subsidize the IBI to single-parent families or pay more bags of food to people without resources. The Barcelona City Council has opposed one and the other option in 2020 and has chosen the second, based on the fact that “the exceptional situation and health emergency caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus and the impact of its effects on the municipality of Barcelona directly affects the provision of services and municipal activity.”

This is explained by the Social Services area in letters and emails that, over the last two months, have been receiving separated mothers, parents with guardianship, widows and widowers. All receivers have in common not having high income and, in the absence of news this year about your bonus, having claimed forgiveness for a portion of your Real Estate Tax; that is, that the City Council subsidizes them, as in other years, part of the annual IBI payment.

The benefit is originally designed to help single mothers, although not only single-parent families benefit from it, but also some very large families with financial problems. In total, according to municipal sources, they are a thousand recipients of aid annually, which usually represents 250 euros in average savings by family and year.

But not in 2020. This tax exercise has come to an end without the families that have applied to the Municipal Institute of Social Services (IMSS) have obtained the aid. These resources have been allocated to cash cards, grants to neighborhood aid associations and food packages for people seriously deprived by the pandemic and its associated crisis.

The City Council says in its messages: “We inform you that This year there will be no call for the IBI bonus and subsidy for single-parent families and widowers. and that work is already underway to be able to make the call for next year, depending on budget availability and the evolution of the pandemic ”.

All this because “The emergency situation requires a redistribution of material and personal effects of the Barcelona City Council to direct more resources to actions that should directly affect the protection of health and safety ”.

Vulnerability

In the response to separated mothers with dependent children (the majority profile of recipients of these aid), the City Council that presides Ada Colau recalls that “from the Drets Socials Area, Global Justice, Feminismes i LGTBI and the IMSS various actions have been implemented to alleviate the situation of vulnerability of people and families with lower incomes in order to meet their basic needs, damaged for the health crisis of covid-19 “

Thus, according to the message, The IMSS is distributing 17,000 nominal Barcelona Solidària wallet cards in social service centers so that their recipients can buy clothes, food or school supplies. And, due to the emergency, the consistory has published 12,065 more cards.

In addition, about 600,000 euros are supported by 57 “neighborhood social entities and neighborhood support networks throughout the city that have kept extraordinary feeding devices in operation during the pandemic.”

In its explanation of the refusal to subsidize the IBI, the City Council also argues with an 88% increase in the delivery of meals to needy people as well as the allocation of 35 million euros to the municipal Pla de Xoc Social, of which 18 cover basic needs “of the people and families of the city of Barcelona in a situation of vulnerability due to the health crisis”.

Bonuses

Before the Covid crisis, Antoni Fernández, manager of the Municipal Institute of Finance of the Barcelona City Council, opened a period between April 1 and May 31 for needy single-parent families. The last time was in 2019. The consistory rewarded these families with up to 90% of the IBI if, in addition, they had one or more disabled members and your house does not have a cadastral value higher than 72,600 euros. This casuistry, according to sources from the affected group, “is very common” among the thousand of families who enjoyed the bonus last year.

For the next section, families of this type with houses of up to 121,000 euros, the discount was 50%; for the middle section, single-parent families without aggravating vulnerability and with houses of between 121,000 and 242,000 euros in cadastral value, the bonus was 20%.

Barcelona City Council sources deny that one aid has been substituted for another. They admit that “given the outbreak of the pandemic, this year it was not possible to make a specific call for grants and aid to the IBI “ , but that “does not mean that any circumstance has been neglected, because, in fact, the general call has increased by 35 million euros the aid to vulnerable groups and families.”

It may interest you

These sources recall that the cancellation of the IBI bonus has also been related “to emergencies related to the management of the pandemic.” The council redirects to Social Services those who cannot pay: “If a family cannot afford the IBI payment due to an emergency situation or economic vulnerability, or that payment endangers the coverage of basic needs, the network of Social Services Centers is at your disposal to receive information and the possibilities at your fingertips, “says a spokesman.

After this election by the City Council – which the council remembers is not final – mothers or fathers who raise children alone and have few resources are left with only one direct municipal financial benefit in Barcelona: aid for public transport.

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Europe: New year: the Brexit hour struck at 11 p.m.

for 39 min.

At the beginning of the year, Great Britain is no longer a member of the European Union. What remains is a deeply divided British nation and concerns about the collapse of the island kingdom.

The eleven chimes of Big Ben sound dull through the almost deserted government district around the Westminster Palace. Few people have gathered in front of the scaffolded Elizabeth Tower in Parliament Square due to the corona restrictions. They cheer for a moment as the last bong dies away. At 11 p.m. UK time – midnight Brussels time – the UK is divorced from the
European Union
finally completed. A historic moment.

48 years after the British joined the European Communities in January 1973 and four years, 27 weeks and two days after the fateful EU referendum in the UK ended
Great Britain
EU era also de facto – “in crisis, without fanfare”, like that Guardian wrote. The official exit took place on January 31, 2020. The tabloid Daily Express showed on the front page the British flag with the words “Freedom” in front of the cliffs of Dover and exulted in capital letters: “Our future. Our Great Britain. Our fate”.

Boris Johnson: “Fantastic moment for this country”

With that, many media adopted the Prime Minister’s optimism and patriotic tone
Boris Johnson
who spoke of a “fantastic moment for this country” in his New Year’s speech. “We hold our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the best of it,” said the conservative head of government. The United Kingdom could handle things differently in the future – “and if necessary better than our friends in the EU”.

One at
Christmas eve
The post-Brexit agreement agreed at the last minute has been in force since the turn of the year, which averted an extremely tough economic break with tariffs and quantity restrictions. Nevertheless, customs formalities have to be implemented and a lot more paperwork has to be done. In order to prevent possible disruptions around the port city of Dover and the Eurotunnel, the British authorities had announced that they would first wave through all trucks from the EU.

Nevertheless, numerous transport companies expressed their skepticism in advance and did not want to send any trucks to the continent in the first few days of the new year. Companies on the island have also been stocking up in recent weeks to avoid bottlenecks. So the situation on both sides of the English Channel was calm on New Year’s Day. Observers believe that the consequences of the
Brexi
only become noticeable at the borders in the next few weeks.

Brexit: friends of Europe mourn

In addition to the changes in trade relations, the free movement of people will no longer apply in the future. For citizens, the possibility of simply moving is over and the visa-free travel is limited in time. “I wish I was 21 again,” said the influential Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith in view of “the prospects that lie ahead for young people: to be out there to dominate the world again,” said the ore-Brexiteer .


While in the deeply divided society some celebrated the supposedly regained sovereignty, there was sadness and regret among the friends of Europe. “Scotland is coming back soon, Europe,” wrote the first minister of the northern part of the country, Nicola Sturgeon, on Twitter. “Leave the lights on.” The Scottish nationalists are calling for another independence referendum to join the EU as an autonomous state after splitting off from Great Britain.

Just a few hours before the end of the transition phase, the governments in London and Madrid agreed on the future rules for the British enclave of Gibraltar. The provisions of the Schengen Agreement will apply there in future. This averted a “hard border” between Spain and Great Britain, and crossings are still possible without passport control. It should have been in the interests of the people of Gibraltar. 96 percent of the voters in the 2016 enclave voted to remain in the EU.

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the humanitarian crisis left in Central America by the storms (aggravated by the pandemic)

Going from poverty to total helplessness only took two weeks in Honduras and Guatemala.

Getty Images
In Honduras, the flooding from Hurricanes Eta and Iota was devastating.

Rural communities and urban neighborhoods in both countries suffered in November the devastating passage of the hurricanes Eta and Iota, which left about 200 dead, dozens of disappeared, thousands of displaced, as well as the destruction of houses, possessions, bridges, roads, crops, factories …

Almost everything that could be lost was lost in towns already plagued by the accumulated poverty in decades that this year It got worse yet more with the covid-19 pandemic.

“There was great helplessness,” photojournalist Encarni Pindado, who was in the disaster areas of Honduras between November and December, explains to BBC Mundo.

“People were really super traumatized. They started crying because they were super affected psychologically and economically, in addition to their health,” she recalls.

The humanitarian crisis has left more than 100 dead in Honduras, at least in the official figures, as well as losses of more than US $ 15,000 million, according to data from ECLAC and other government agencies.

In Guatemala Another 60 deaths have been recorded, but a hundred more are missing. In Nicaragua the tragedy claimed the lives of more than 20 people.

A flood in Guatemala

Getty Images
Arable land, on which the economy depends in northeastern Guatemala, was left under water.

And to that is added the economic crisis left by the covid-19 pandemic, which – once again – leads many Central Americans to head north as migrants.

“People don’t flee because they want to. People flee because they have to,” Sibylla Brodzinsky, the spokeswoman for the BBC, told the BBC. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

“The covid-19 restrictions and the economic recession have obviously impacted many, many people. And that adds to the vulnerabilities: people fleeing gang violence, persecution, forced recruitment, extortion. So all of these are just factors that add up to each other and lead people to conclude that they can no longer live the way they live “.

By the beginning of 2021, the migrant caravans to the United States are expected to form again, with the hope that the new government of Joe Biden change political asylum policies. The president-elect has already said that will take time.

Two hurricanes in two weeks

First was the hit of the hurricane And. Of category 4 and with winds of 240 km / h, it made landfall in Nicaragua on November 4 and traveled through Honduras and northeast Guatemala.

More than its winds, the rains that it brought left severe flooding in all three countries, as well as the landslide that buried poor homes in risky areas.

A flood in Guatemala

Getty Images
Arable land, on which the economy depends in northeastern Guatemala, was left under water.

Then came Iota, the most powerful hurricane of the season (reached category 5 and up to 260 km / h) that hit the three countries again when they were just trying to get up from the first.

That was disastrous.

“I spoke with a minister who told me like this: ‘This is the worst tragedy that has hit the country in the history of Honduras,” Pindado explains.

“There were people who had already cleaned their houses and had to go out again. Many of the colonies, such as Lima, in the Sula Valley, Honduras, were still flooded. There were areas where the water was still visible above the houses”.

A flood in Honduras

Getty Images
The outlook is bleak for many communities in Honduras and Guatemala.

In the city of San Pedro Sula, the economic engine of Honduras, a third of the population had to leave their homes due to the flooding generated by the two hurricanes. The neighboring Sula Valley was the region hardest hit.

“The humanitarian crisis that Honduras is experiencing today is also added to that of several forgotten and invisible emergencies, such as sexual violence, which requires a priority medical response, or the mental health care, which is insufficient or in many places non-existent“, says Juan Carlos Arteaga, head of the mission of Doctors Without Borders in the Central American country.

The count of the damages shows the magnitude of the tragedy that that country and Guatemala are experiencing.

Honduran Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales encrypted US $ 10 billion damages, to which are added more than US $ 2,250 million for losses from the covid-19 pandemic, 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

A flooded region of Honduras

Getty Images
The damage in Honduras has been the most severe that a storm has seen.

In neighboring Guatemala, more than 5,200 people were still in shelters until December 21In addition to 128,000 people had to leave their homes, according to the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction.

It was in the Alta Verapaz, Petén and Izabal regions where 61 people died and almost 100 disappeared, most of them in a town where around 150 homes were buried in mudslides.

In Nicaragua the storms left at least 21 deceaseds, 160,000 refugees and losses of more than US$742 millones.

The disaster in Honduras

Beyond the numbers, the stories about personal tragedies are replicated.

With four million inhabitants (9.5 in the whole country) victimsHonduras was the country most affected by the hurricanes. Pindado knew first-hand what was happening in San Pedro Sula and its surroundings, as he told the BBC.

Susan Jesenia Aguilar, 23 years old and 8 months pregnant, had to flee with her partner and her baby after Eta passed. She had to live in a makeshift tent on a street in that city for more than two weeks, which caused her and her baby a cold with a cough, fever and headaches.

A house with mud in Honduras

Getty Images
After several weeks since the hurricanes, some houses in Honduras still cannot be inhabited.

Roberto Mallorca, 70, and his wife Oneida Pérez, 62, lost everything when Hurricane Iota hit: the sheep and chickens they raised and all their belongings, explains Pindado.

Mallorca had a stroke a few months ago. His disability meant that he and his family were unable to leave their home to go to one of the shelters before Iota arrived. So he went to higher ground, where It was 24 hours before he was rescued by the Red Cross.

The institution also saved Juan Argueta, 46, who like others stayed at his home, in Bajos de Choloma, to take care of his belongings. But the arrival of Iota forced him to flee between strong currents, says the photojournalist.

Before the hurricanes hit, Digno Osorto worked bringing sand to construction sites in his horse-drawn cart. He made about $ 13 a week. All his belongings were lost in the floods.

Several people under a bridge in Honduras

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Many people have had to take refuge under bridges or on ridges in Honduras.

Gloria, 70, had to sleep in the open on a median of a highway for more than two weeks as her house was flooded. Like her, hundreds of older adults are alone and without financial means.

Alberto López Ocampos’ family managed to recover 40 ducks, 25 chickens and 11 geese from their home. They were taken to live under a highway bridge.

“People were on the street. One of the things they said, all the time, was that the people help the people. There was really no hope that the government would do something for them, for the victims, “explains Pindado.

“People from the churches, from organized groups, distributed food to those who were on the street. The government, NGOs, etc. were there, but people on the street had the feeling of helplessness. Because they had lost everything“, Add.

A landslide in Guatemala

Getty Images
The mudslides left dozens of houses buried in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

Guatemala embarrada

In Guatemala, a large landslide engulfed the town of Quejá in Alta Verapaz. Between 45 and 60 people were trapped under the mud, half of them children.

According to Doctors Without Borders, people suffer from skin diseases, physical trauma, respiratory infections, and patients with chronic diseases have suspended their treatment. The cases of symptoms related to acute stress, anxiety, and grief.

In addition to the covid-19 pandemic, there have also been cases of sexual violence in the shelters and in the makeshift tents that have been set up in the streets.

“In a context of double health emergency like the one we are in, due to the covid-19 pandemic, we call on the authorities so that sexual violence is treated as a medical emergency,” says Arteaga.

The numbers of the pandemic.  [ Guatemala 135.441 casos / 4.773 fallecidos ],[ Honduras 119.713 casos / 3.066 ] , Source: Source: WHO - December 29, 2020, Image:

Is migration inevitable?

Both Honduras and Guatemala were suffering from the economic problems derived from the covid-19 pandemic, which has led their economies – as in other countries – to drastically shrink.

In Honduras, where he 60% I was already living in poverty, the Social Forum on External Debt and Development of Honduras (Fodesh) says that the situation has caused two decades late.

“We may take longer than 12 years to get back what we had before the pandemic and natural phenomena. And if an advisory group is not integrated to direct the reconstruction of the country, it could take us between 16 and 18 years to recover, “the NGO evaluates.

A factory damaged by Hurricane Eta in Nicaragua

Getty Images
To a lesser extent, Nicaragua has also had home and maquiladora losses.

The President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, recognized the enormous scale of the task ahead: “They lost everything, between goods and crops (…) If we don’t want hordes of Central Americans seeking to go to other countries with better living conditions, we have to create walls of prosperity in Central America “.

And it is that many families that already lived in poverty before have been left without possessions or means to work, which anticipates a wave of migrants in the first months of 2021.

Pindado spoke with families who lost almost everything. Buying a mattress, for example, for someone who earns US $ 3 a day would take about six months to get it on credit.

“For older people it is practically impossible to recover what they have lost. For young people, it is very difficult, but it depends on whether you have a job. But job instability is enormous in Honduras. People when they have work earn very little. The only real option is migration“, dice.

“Many people bet that one person in the family emigrates and can help the rest.”


*With reporting by Darío Brooks and Will Grant.


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Two political crises in the middle of a health storm

At the height of the pandemic, the President of the Canary Islands Government had to deal with two crises in his cabinet, and both in two areas under socialist control. Teresa Cruz was relieved at the head of the Ministry of Health, temporarily replaced by Julio Pérez, and later by Blas Trujillo, while María José Guerra left Education and Manuela Armas entered her place. The experience was the profile sought by Torres.

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Premier League: Club presidents consider two-week hiatus due to explosion of covid-19 cases, concern | Premier League

From concern to alarm: the explosion of cases of coronavirus covid-19, whose new strain has the United Kingdom in serious difficulties, has reached football.

Although it is not yet a formal initiative, the heads of the clubs view with great concern the cases of Sheffield United, which reported 18 positive cases, and the previous ones of Manchester City, which could not play its game against Everton due to 7 new cases. height does not know if he will also have to postpone the duel against Chelsea.

Sheffield’s game against Brunley did play out, as did Southampton’s against West Ham, despite the fact that coach Ralph Hassenhuttl went into isolation at home after a family member tested positive.

But now it is Fulham that has reported a number of positive cases ahead of their game against Tottenham, although a postponement request has yet to be made. Memories of Newcastle, also affected by a massive contagion that forced him to reschedule a game, are not so distant. And so the cases are happening …

The anguish happens because a historical record of cases of covid-19 has been reached in the 1,479 tests carried out between December 21 and 23.

It is speculated that a new strain of covid-19 could originate in the United Kingdom that would be more contagious, which has the health authorities and of course football on alert. According to the British press, there is already talk in private meetings to plan a two-week break as a protection measure for all the protagonists of the show.

For now, all that has been done is reviewing the protocols to see if stricter controls can be established, but the results do not invite optimism.

However, a radical decision is not ruled out before the British Government itself makes a radical decision that forces the tournament to stop. The difficulties due to the pandemic continue to be a headache.

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only ten episodes caused 120,000 million in damages

Altering the climate is a constant economic drain. The climate crisis has continued to take a huge human and economic toll in 2020. Extreme weather events, wild forest fires and even insect pests associated with global warming have produced, in addition to the damage to people, billions of euros of economic losses around the world: only the ten most destructive episodes have totaled 145,000 million dollars (120,000 million euros), according to the organization Christian Aid.

The sentence of the death of a girl by contamination marks a milestone, although it is still far from being applied in Spain

Know more

This is only the list of the “financially most devastating” setbacks, they warn the NGO that has also taken into account “only the losses of insured assets” so that “the real figure is possibly much higher.” “Whether it’s floods, storms or locust clouds, climate change has continued to unfold this year,” summarizes study author Katherine Kramer.

The study makes an approximation of the consequences of economic destruction that various extreme events associated with climate change have caused throughout 2020. However, the authors themselves warn that “economic costs are usually higher in richer countries because have more valuable properties “but that” some of these episodes have hit the poorest countries, although the price tag [de los bienes destruidos] be lower. ”

The worst

Which episode triggered by the climate crisis has been the most costly? The prism from which you look changes the answer. This year there have been rapid and very damaging phenomena such as hurricanes in the Caribbean, Central America and part of the US that have cost at least 4.1 billion dollars and have forced more than 200,000 people to displace. It has been a season with more hurricanes than ever and of great intensity. Cyclone Amphan struck the Bay of Bengal in May with 4.9 million displaced people and an associated economic cost of $ 13 billion.


If hurricanes hit very violently for a few days, on other occasions, the effects of unnatural warming of the planet cause extreme but prolonged episodes: “They develop over months,” these analysts explain. This variant includes the floods in Asia in 2020. From June to October, the avenues in China have cost 32,000 million dollars and displaced 3.7 million citizens (in addition to 278 direct deaths). In that same season, floods in India left a devastation of 10 billion, four million people out of their homes and more than 2,000 lives lost.

Also in this destructive ranking, floods have been found in Japan, Vietnam or Pakistan. South Sudan suffered its worst flooding and lost a year’s crop.

Europe is not saved

No part of the world is spared. In Europe, this same year there have been several extratropical hurricanes. The ones that cost the most were the storms named Clara and Alex, whose combined damage reached almost $ 6 billion. “and they are just one example of a trend whereby extreme weather events occur regularly in Europe.”


If in February Clara struck mainly in Ireland and the United Kingdom, in October, Alex attacked southern Europe more. In the Italian Piedmont 630 mm of rain was registered in 24 hours. The storm put eight autonomous communities in Spain on alert due to rain, wind and rough seas. This storm was the first “high-impact squall” of this season –which is different from the hurricane season that forms in the Atlantic Caribbean and that, on occasions, are reaching latitudes as far east as to touch Spain– in the that there are five, according to the records of the State Meteorological Agency. The most recent was Ernest which caused orange warnings for its winds and red ones for coastal phenomena.

The fires

The wildfires in Australia began at the end of 2019, but they lasted in time to scorch 18 million hectares of forest. The flames destroyed thousands of buildings, killed 1 billion wild animals and 34 people. The smoke traveled thousands of miles to affect the people of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. “Only the cost in medical attention because of that smoke added more than 1,400 million dollars”, they have calculated in this work. The fires of this 2020 have meant losses of more than 3,600 million.


Months later, dozens of fires on the west coast of the United States, spread from California to Washington and Oregon as well as Colorado and Arizona, devastated 3.2 million hectares. 42 people died and the economic loss has amounted to 20,000 million euros, according to Christian Aid estimates. “Droughts and rising temperatures brought about by climate change contribute to the severity of forest fires,” recall the authors of the analysis. The scientific group World Weather Attribution explains that “climate change increases the risk of fires by 30%.”

Lobster clouds

Following an unusual rainy season, several East African countries were struck by a locust infestation in the first months of 2020. The insects appeared in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

The swarms of grasshoppers destroyed vast areas of forest, pastures and crops, putting the populations’ feeding at risk. It was the worst outbreak in 25 years in the region. The World Bank estimated that crop losses and “other economic, human and environmental impacts” reached $ 8.5 billion.

“Climate change and extreme events were relevant factors in the outbreak,” according to FAO. Locusts are a phase of some species of grasshoppers that change morphologically and behaviorally under certain circumstances, and thrive in humid environments, which is why pests arise after floods and cyclones. The Horn of Africa had eight during 2019, paving the way for the multiplication of these insects.

This dire list that combines the climate crisis and economic impact is completed by the unusual heat wave that Siberia has endured, the typhoon that crossed the Philippines or the fires from August to November located in South America. Nobody escapes.

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Brexit: Without the EU, the British have one less whipping boy for their own misfortune

RNigel Farage, the forefather of Brexit, was there with his rhetoric when the agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, the Brexit Deal, was announced on December 24th, 2020: “The war is over!”

This is the error of all ideologues who believe that with the fulfillment of their dreams history will come to an end and peace will break out. The bone of contention Europe has only disappeared in one respect, and that only for a small number of five years, until new negotiations are pending in the tiresome case of the fishing quotas. During this time, Brussels and London will be relieved to distance themselves from each other, keep their distance in the style of our Corona timelines, and will have to concentrate on their inner well-being with the greatest urgency.

For the island this means that the public can no longer be beaten with the ritual lie that the EU is responsible for all the injustices of life. The realization will finally break out that the ailing state of British domestic politics has absolutely nothing to do with Brussels, and nothing at all.

No commission, no Brussels directorate has prevented the British from making their own misfortunes. One less whipping boy is available when the horrific imbalance in the structure of the regions, the productivity deficit in the economy or the dramatic crisis in the housing market are more clearly visible than the quarrel over Brexit recently allowed. Instead, a potential whipping boy has been added – the government, whose responsibility can no longer be shaken.

“A withdrawal is not a victory!”

Johnson personally will soon feel how the wind is turning and, just like on his desk, alone there, claims for recourse will arise if little or nothing changes after the self-evacuation from the EU, except – oh dear – the increase in bureaucratic hurdles in the Trade with Europe. Soon he will too Churchills As the nation celebrated the miraculous salvation of its troops from the Flemish beaches like a victory and the prime minister warned against it: “A withdrawal is not a victory!”

Because the insistence on the classic concept of sovereignty, with the acceptance of all the costs associated with it, is a grip on history that is no longer shared by the majority of British people. Certainly, they are more attached to national freedom of movement than continental European states may. That is in the gene of an island mentality.

But the junction that the Brexiteers liked to fool the electorate into believing that more sovereignty also means more power and influence will not stand the test of time, despite all the benevolence we concede to the British Pappenheimer. Rather, such a belief sprang from the illusion of a would-be greatness of national importance that contradicts the diverse global networks in the here and now.

Boris Johnson declares Brexit deal a “small gift”

Smooching under the mistletoe, brandy butter and lots of fish: Boris Johnson’s Christmas address was as usual informal. At the end he proudly presents a thick pile of documents. It’s the Brexit deal, which he calls a “small gift”.

Great Britain is a “soft power” of outstanding charisma, without a doubt a top-class cultural attraction factor. But politically, even this advantage loses its importance through a go-it-alone strategy, for example if the island decouples itself from Europe in the field of education (for example in the Erasmus program). Rather, the scales will lean towards the other definition of sovereignty, the Ursula von der Leyen lecture on December 24th in Brussels: “Bundling strengths, working, traveling, studying and doing business in 27 countries without barriers.”

How history has turned for England since King George VI. after the fall of France in 1940, wrote to his mother, Maria von Teck, that he was “much happier now that we no longer have any allies to whom we have to be polite and pampered”.

How does Boris Johnson for his part intend to compensate for the loss of “allies”? What strategies does the EU have to adapt to if London wants to honor its newfound freedom from January 1st? The answer to this is extremely poor in Johnson’s first interview with his house paper, the Sunday edition of the Daily Telegraph.

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Apart from great promises of upcoming dynamics, it has nothing concrete to offer, since the control of the Covid crisis has recently demanded all strength, and with more than unsatisfactory results, for which one can already see the fickleness of the Downing Street blames. Every departure is also subject to the conditions of the negotiated contract, according to which neither partner may lower the standard of the applicable labor market conditions in order to gain a competitive advantage over the other.

Ultimately, the deal is little more than a facade of absolute commercial freedom. The only thing the prime minister is promising is financial support for the corona-stricken economy. But such state aid to alleviate the ruinous consequences of the coronavirus is permitted for all European governments, outside of the contractual conditions that prohibit state support interventions with threats of punishment in order to preserve the “level playing field”.

The truth behind the lack of concrete plans, in addition to the overstrain caused by the Covid crisis, is thoroughly sobering: After being exhausted from the almost five-year Brexit struggle, Boris Johnson finds a deeply divided nation that has yet to find the right strand, where she could pull herself up.

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Any comparison with 1940 is wrong: Churchill had behind him a population united in the resistance, plus an unequivocally clear enemy image. Both are missing today. The people remain at odds over the blessing or curse of Brexit, and the enemy is defying clear definition. More virus variants could emerge, and the economic recovery is a matter of conflicting speculation. Added to this is the veritable sword of Damocles – the cohesion of the kingdom, the threatening one scottish Spin-off.

The war is over, said Michael Farage, who, like his peers, had lost sight of the internal crisis through “Brussels”. That is, in fact, over – while the real war for equilibrium in Britain is now beginning.

These are the most important points in the Brexit deal

“Good news: this is a deal!” Proclaimed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his Christmas address. But what exactly does the long-awaited Brexit deal entail? And what changes now for holidaymakers?

Source: WELT / Eybe Ahlers

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Elite sport encapsulated itself to survive the crisis

In the documentary series ‘All or Nothing’, by the English club Totten­ham (issued on the Amazon Prime digital platform), the technical director Jose Mourinho he is powerless and overwhelmed. “I’ve been in football for 20 years and I think I have answers for everything. But this (the coronavirus crisis) has overtaken us. I don’t know what we have to do ”.

The episode recalls the events that occurred in the second week of March, when the world, as we knew it, began to mutate towards this new reality of masks and social distance.

The Premier League, where the Tottenham of ‘Mou’, was suspended due to the exponential increase in infections in Britain. So did, almost at the same time, Formula 1, the NBA, American football, the Champions League and the South American soccer cups.

The consensus was similar then: in a first phase it was necessary to protect the health of the members of the athletes and workers. But the show had to go on.

It is worth mentioning the case of Premier. If the English tournament was declared void and the activity did not resume, the losses would have reached USD
1,250 million. The NBA it budgeted figures in red of up to $ 1 billion. The pandemic threatened to devastate the world’s competitions.

Contracts for the TV and the display of trademarks at the matches made the possibility of braking all year unfeasible. An alternative had to be found.

Therefore, the industry planned the establishment of bubbles to encapsulate its actors, and allow timetables to be met and sponsors and the TV will be happy.

The first thing was to establish rigid security protocols and stock up on significant amounts of PCR tests to make periodic evaluations to athletes. In that context, there was a certainty: they would compete again, but without fans in the stands. From that moment on, the sport became a telematic spectacle.

In May, one of the first competitions to restart was the German Bundesliga, after the furious first wave of the coronavirus in Europe.
There was political will: Chancellor Angela Merkel, who welcomed the possibility of the country being a pioneer in the return to sports, authorized the protocols. 9,000 PCR tests were carried out on the remaining nine dates to play, and mighty Bayern Munich claimed their eighth consecutive title.

The German paradigm was imitated by other football leagues in Europe and it even served as a reference for Ecuador to resume soccer activity in August, although with notable differences: local clubs used more rapid tests than PCR.

Other sports were encouraged to dive into bubbles. The NBA, for example, concentrated on the Disney World, in Orlando, to end the regular season and play the ‘playoffs’.

The price that was paid was the freedom of the protagonists. For three months, from July to October, the teams were confined to Mickey Mouse’s house.

There were playing fields and training, in addition to Hotels and supermarkets. But visits or exits were not allowed. In communal areas it was forbidden to be without a mask. PCRs were applied all the time. If an athlete tested positive, he was isolated for 15 days. The contest never came to a standstill until, in October, LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers took the crown.

The great cycling events, the Roland Garros, he US Open de tenis and the Formula 1 they also encapsulated their stars. Despite the precautions, the failures were presented. In Ecuador, the bubbles of the Copa Libertadores and the Tricolor were broken and there were infected soccer players, although without major consequences for health. Professional sports remained active.

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