Spain will receive €71 million, the full amount demanded, in compensation for the losses experienced by Spanish farmers resulting from the food crisis caused by the E.coli outbreak earlier this year in Germany, which was initially blamed on Spanish cucumbers (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The European Union will pay out €70.97 million, while Poland, Italy and Holland will also receive money, although smaller amounts (€46.3 million, €34.6 million and €27.1 million, respectively). Yesterday, the Management Council of the EU, which gathered experts from all its 27 member countries, agreed to raise from €210 million to €217 million the total amount of compensation to be paid to the four countries to cover financial losses arising from the crisis. The money will cover about 50 percent of those losses experienced by Spanish farmers, who were forced to remove cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes and peppers from the market, between May 26th and June 30th this year. In addition, those farmers who are part of collective organisations will enjoy further compensation as set out in the Common Agricultural Policy, which means that overall, up to 70 percent of their losses will be covered.
A Barcelona court has handed down a six-year prison term to the former president of FC Barcelona, Josep Lluís Nuñez, and his son, for crimes of bribery and falsifying official documents in a tax fraud case dating from the Nineties (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Also given a prison sentence were the lawyer Joan Josep Folchi (seven and a half years) and various tax inspectors from the treasury department, including a head of department, Josep Maria Huguet, (13 years each) while the businessman Javier de la Rosa was absolved of any crime. In total, 16 people were accused and 32 more of subsidiary civil responsibility (someone with secondary responsibility for the crimes committed). The court has called a hearing for today, at the request of the public prosecutor, to decide if any of the accused should be subject to preventitive measures, which could involve going to prison or having their passports removed. At this hearing, eight of those sentenced will appear, Nuñez and his son and various tax inspectors. The sentences handed down have taken a year to formulate with a document produced of 700 pages; they follow a joint trial that lasted nine months after the crimes of corruption were uncovered in 1999, with the case being nicknamed el caso Hacienda (the Treasury case).
Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the man who is the sole candidate standing to take over from José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero at the head of the Spanish Socialist party (PSOE) and lead it in the next Spanish general elections, has said that he wants to carry out a reform of the Spanish constitution (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). He wants to reopen the debate that Zapatero himself proposed when running from prime minister in 2004 to amend the constitution, which never prospered, and says he plans to make it part of his electoral programme. Sources close to Rubalcaba say that he wants to "end the taboo" that the constitution is untouchable. In his first meeting with the PSOE parliamentary group as since officially becoming leadership candidate , Rubalcaba said that although it was a difficult subject, that shouldn't prevent him taking a position on it, and he criticised what he called "constitutional rigidity". When the constitution was formed in 1978, everything was well tied up, making it difficult now to try and adapt the Spanish 'carta magna' in a country where the judiciary has changed a lot in the past three decades. The PSOE candidate, thus, thinks that the constitution should be a living, breathing text, rather than a fossilised one. His proposals, in this sense, match some of the demands of the 15-M 'indignados' movement, in favour of greater democratic quality, while the opposition Partido Popular will need to decide what position they take on the question.