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WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in August 2022?

From Ryanair travel chaos, to new laws for foreigners who want to work in Spain, a potential deal on UK driving licences and a third heatwave, become a member to find out about everything happening in Spain in August.

what changes in august 2022 spain
Traffic jams, new laws for foreign workers, Ryanair travel chaos and another heatwaves are some of the changes to expect in August 2022 in Spain Photo:RAYMOND ROIG, PAU BARRENA, JORGE GUERRERO, ANDRES SOLARO/AFP

Airline strikes and cancellations set to continue in August

A cabin crew strike at Ryanair in Spain, which began in June causing hundreds of flight cancellations and delays, will continue until January 2023 with regular 24-hour work stoppages, two workers’ unions said on Wednesday.

That means that if you’re travelling with the low-cost airline in August to and from Spain, there’s a chance your flight will be affected.

You should be on the lookout for delays or cancellations for your flights to and from Spain if you’re travelling from:

  • August 8th to 11th
  • August 15th to 18th
  • August 22nd to 25th
  • August 29th to 31st

So far, most of the cancellations and delays have been for flights travelling to or from Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Alicante, Ibiza, Málaga, and Valencia.

The following link includes some of the confirmed cancelled flights for early August

On a more positive note, EasyJet flight crews have ended their strike after reaching a deal with management that raises wages by over a fifth, the USO trade union said. that means that remaining strike days planned for July 29th, 30th and 31st have now been cancelled as have any potential stoppages in August.

New immigration rules to offset labour shortages come into force

Spain’s government recently decided to ease the country’s immigration laws to make it easier for citizens from outside the European Union to work in the country to address labour shortages in areas such as tourism and agriculture.

Under the reform , which comes into force on August 15th, foreigners from outside of the bloc who have lived in the country for two years or more can seek temporary residency papers.

The reform will also allow international students to work up to 30 hours a week while studying, and to start work in Spain at the end of their studies.

It will also make it easier for foreigners to obtain a work visa to come to Spain and take up jobs in areas facing labour shortages.

These measures will “improve the Spanish migratory model and its procedures, which are often slow and unsuitable” and have “high social and economic costs for Spain,” the social security ministry said in a statement.

Social Security and Migration Minister Jose Luis Escrivá said the reform aims to “encourage regular, orderly and safe immigration”.

READ MORE: How it’s now easier for foreigners to work in Spain

Spain expecting its third heatwave

Temperatures finally dropped in late July after a heatwave that caused dozens of wildfires and over 1,000 deaths due to heat-related causes.

However, after a few days of slightly lower temperatures, 34 of Spain’s 50 provinces are again on orange and yellow alert at the start of August.

Daytime and nighttime temperatures are expected to again be suffocating according to national weather agency AEMET, with the mercury 5 to 10 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. 

Brace yourselves because August could end up being just as stifling as July.

New measures to help with energy usage and costs

On August 1st, Spain’s government will approve a set of urgent measures aimed at addressing energy efficiency in the country.

Although it’s not clear yet what the exact measures will be, it is expected that they will include electricity price cuts for families and businesses whilst also placing limits on the amount of power used in public buildings to prevent squandering at a time of increased energy usage.

Spanish Parliament closes until autumn, with dozens of key laws pending

The Spanish Parliament will be shutting down for August, with many key members on holiday. However, there are still many laws that are still in the pipeline and have yet to be approved. One of these is the Housing Law, which has been awaiting approval for more than a year and still hasn’t been ratified due to disagreements between PSOE and Unidas Podemos.

There is still pending legislation on prostitution, abortion and new taxes for banks and electricity companies, which will now not be sorted until the autumn.

Despite this, the Spanish government has passed more than 20 laws since January which include the labour reform, the waste law, and changes to pension plans.

A deal on UK licences in August after failure to reach agreement in July as promised?

At the end of June, British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott said that a driving licence deal would be “likely by the end of July”. “The UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” he said in a statement at the time.

However, the British Embassy in Madrid posted an update on their Facebook page on July 27th saying: “Although, as we’ve said before, it’s impossible to give an exact date on when they will conclude, we want to be open about the fact (that= things may take longer than we’d like during August”.

Even though their message suggested that an exchange deal is almost certain to make it to the Spanish cabinet, it could be that August will not be the month when the agreement is finalised, especially keeping in mind how this is the official holiday month in the country.

August public holiday in Spain

August 15th is a public holiday across Spain, meaning that anyone not already on holiday will be able to take one on this day. It celebrates the Day of the Assumption of the Virgen.

Operación Salida for August

Operación Salida or the ‘great exodus’ refers to the days when millions leave the cities and head to the coasts or the mountains for their summer holidays in August. It typically brings traffic jams and chaos on the roads. This year, the worst days are expected to be the weekend of July 30th and 31st, just before the start of August.

According to Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) 67 percent of the routes will go to the Mediterranean coast and to the south of Spain, with 20 percent to Valencia and surroundings, 24 percent to Castilla La Mancha and the northern part of Andalusia and 23 percent to the Andalusian coast.

The roads will clog up again around August 15th which is a national holiday across Spain and then the return journey on Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th, which will see the biggest number of cars on the roads returning to the cities.

READ MORE: ‘Operación Salida’: What to know about driving during Spain’s summer exodus

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For members

PROPERTY

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Despite being known for its year-long sunny weather, Spain is the EU country with the fewest homes with natural light, often intentionally. Why is it that when it comes to spending time at home, Spaniards seem to love being in the dark?

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Spain – the land of sunshine. The country gets between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of sun per year on average, almost double the 1,600 hours the UK gets, for example.

You’d probably assume that finding a bright apartment in such a sunny country would be a piece of cake, but unless you’re renting or buying a modern home, it might be trickier than you realise.

More than one in ten Spaniards live in dwellings they feel are “too dark” – the highest percentage among all EU countries, according to figures from Eurostat.

As far as dark homes go, Spain is head and shoulders above the EU average of 5.9 percent, and higher than other nations with a high rate of gloomy homes such as France (9.5 percent), Malta (9.4 percent) and Hungary (7.7 percent).

At the other end of the brightly lit spectrum, it’s no surprise to see that countries with cloudier skies and darker winters such as Norway, Slovakia, Estonia, Czechia and the Netherlands have homes that let in plenty of natural light, and yet Spain’s sun-kissed Mediterranean neighbours Italy and Cyprus do make the most of the readily available light.

Dark homes are almost twice as common in Spain as the EU average. Graph: Eurostat.

So why are Spanish homes so dark?

Is it a case of hiding away from the sun, and keeping cool during the summer months? Or is it something else? 

Apartment blocks

The vast majority of Spaniards live in apartments as opposed to houses, often in tightly-packed cities with narrow streets.

In fact, in Spain 64.6 percent of the population lives in flats or apartments, second in the EU after Latvia (65.9 percent.)

By contrast the EU wide average is 46.1 percent.

By nature of apartment living, Spanish homes tend to get less sunlight.

Depending on whether they have an exterior or interior flat, they might not actually have a single window in the flat that faces the street.

If the apartment is on a lower floor, the chances of it receiving natural light are even lower. Internal patios can help to solve this to some extent, but only during the mid day and early afternoon hours. 

why are spanish homes so dark

A dark, narrow street in the centre of Palma de Mallorca. Photo: seth0s/Pixabay

Hot summers

During Spain’s scorching summer months, there’s no greater relief than stepping into a darkened apartment building lobby and feeling the temperature drop. 

In southern Spain, and in coastal regions, Spanish buildings were traditionally built to protect against the heat and hide away from the long sunny hours. White walled exteriors and dark interiors help to keep homes cool.

It’s often the case that bedrooms are put in the darkest, coolest part of the apartment, sometimes with just a box-window to allow for a breeze but no sunlight.

Spaniards’ obsession with blinds and shutters

Spain is pretty much the only country in Europe whose inhabitants still use blinds (persianas), even during the colder winter months.

In this case, rather than it just being down to keeping homes cool during the sweltering summer months, their usage is intrinsic to Spain’s Moorish past and the fact that they provide a degree of privacy from nosy neighbours. By contrast, northern Europeans with Calvinist roots such as the Dutch keep the curtains open to let in natural light and because historically speaking, keeping the inside of homes visible from the street represents not having anything to hide. But in Spain, the intimacy of one’s home is sacrosanct, especially when the neighbour in the apartment building opposite is less then ten metres away.

Keeping the blinds or shutters down also has the advantage of making it easier to have an afternoon nap (the siesta, of course) or to sleep in late after a long night out on the town. 

In any case, it seems hard to believe for some foreigners that many Spaniards are happy to live in the dark whilst spending time at home, regardless of whether they’re sleeping or not. 

A byproduct of this? Dark, gloomy homes.

why are spanish homes so dark

Spaniards aren’t fans of airing their dirty laundry, at least metaphorically speaking. Blinds have historically provided the privacy they’ve wanted from their homes. Photo: Quino Al/Unsplash

The long, dark corridors

Spanish apartments have plenty of quirks that seem odd to outsiders, from the light switches being outside of the room, the aforementioned shutters, the bottles of butane and last but not least, the never-ending corridors. 

Most Spanish homes built in the 19th and 20th century include these long pasillos running from the entrance to the end of the flat. They were meant to provide a separation between the main living spaces and the service rooms (kitchen, bathroom etc), easy access to all and better airing and light capabilities. But when the doors to the rooms are closed as often happens, these corridors become the opposite of what was intended: dark and airless.

Navigating these windowless corridors at night is akin to waking around blindfolded.

dark corridor spain

Light at the end of the tunnel? Dark corridors are a common feature of Spanish homes. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Are Spaniards rethinking their dark homes?

Times are changing, and modern designs are experimenting with more spacious, light-filled, open-plan apartments, especially as the Covid-19 lockdown forced many Spaniards to reconsider their abodes. 

It’s also increasingly common to see property ads stressing that the property is diáfano, which means that natural light enters the home from all sides.

However, the vast majority of Spanish homes are still gloomy for the most part, often intentionally.

A combination of traditional building styles, the crowded nature of apartment block living, the use of shutters, the desire to keep homes private, and the long windowless corridors mean Spanish flats can seem dark if you’re new to the country, and with good reason.

Ultimately, it is worth remembering that Spanish society is one that largely lives its life outdoors. Living in smaller apartments, Spaniards generally spend less time at home and more time out and about in the street.

Native to a hot and sunny country as they are, Spaniards’ homes are a place of rest, relaxation and, crucially, sleep.

Spanish people have enough sunlight and heat in their lives; they like to live, therefore, in homes designed to keep cool and dark.

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

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