Friday, February 07, 2003

"Article 48 - The Free Movement of Workers within the EU (excluding Spain)"

I arrived here in the second week of November. Unlike the non EU passengers I may have had the priviledge of strolling through Airport Immigration with no questions asked. However once I arrived in the city proper it seems as if I have enjoyed no extra rights compared to any non EU national.

Within four days of arriving here I applied for my "residency permit". I was told to sign a few pages and that I would receive confirmation shortly afterwards. In the second week of January I received an appointment for April 22nd to collect my ID card and number. This seems like steady progress until you realise that you are not permitted to open a bank account, cash cheques or rent an apartment unless you can provide your residency number. It is in no way possible for me to obtain my permit anytime before the assigned appointment.

In short, the Spanish authorities are giving the finger to EU harmonisation laws and expect you to live for five months in their country without the bare necessities for living and working.

To make matters more difficult my company will only pay salaries through the banking system. Luckily my landlord likes to keep his life simple and doesn´t look for such things. I managed to open an account in December but it was forcibly closed due to my lack of a residency permit. This week I was refused by seven banks in total. In the end I grabbed a visiting company director and dragged him to the bank that Berlitz always deal through. After an hour of phone calls and bank officials shunning responsibility I finally opened an account. The only reason that this was possible was of course because the bank greatly values my schools custom.

The spanish constantly refer angrily to their notion that the rest of Europe believe that "Africa begins at the Pyrennees". However, as you can see, they don´t seem very motivated to try and dispel this idea in any way.

On the other hand if you look on the bright side, having to argue with uninterested bank officials does absolute wonders for your confidence in speaking spanish !

Which one of you aspiring legal eagles wants to take a case to the European Commission for me ?

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