¡INOCENTE! British citizens are NOT being banned from EU facilities.

Monday 28th December 2020 | JOE THOKER

¡INOCENTE! ¡INOCENTE! Did you fall for it? Or did you see through our little joke? Did our guest reporter Joe Thoker – The Joker – convince you that the news was the real deal? If you did, don’t worry; you won’t the only one. If you didn’t, well done. But be prepared for next year! (If you missed it, see the “news report” below.

Today – December 28th – is ‘El Día de los Santos Inocentes’, which is the equivalent of April Fool’s Day in other countries when pranks are played on unsuspecting victims, the ‘inocentes’ or ‘innocents’.

However, it is an important day in the calendar of the Catholic Church for it commemorates the story of the massacre of all the male babies in Bethlehem on the order of Herod, King of Judea, after being told that the future King of the Jews would be born there. They are considered to be the first Christian martyrs, the ‘Holy Innocents’, although the story has long been thought to have been an invention of the Gospel of Matthew, rather than based on any real event, and these days the religious aspect of the feast day has been largely forgotten and replaced by the pranks, the supposed justification being that Jesus escaped the hands of Herod.

The traditional joke is to put a puppet or a ragdoll – known as “monigotes” – on people’s backs whilst celebrities from TV and screen are often made the butt of jokes on a TV special to raise money for a good cause. In some areas it’s rather like the American phenomenon of ‘trick or treat’ which children going from door to door, making plenty of noise and demanding a ‘payment’ to stop, normally something sweet like the traditional ‘polvorones’ that are sold at this time of year. And if you’re dipping into the sugar bowl to sweeten your tea or coffee, check first as it’s a popular trick to substitute salt for the sugar.

At javeamigos.com, we have produced several classic ‘inocente’ tales over the past few years, including:

  • 2012: The rumour that a new four-lane tunnel was to be dug underneath the Montgó mountain to provide quick access to Dénia.
  • 2013: The proposal to build a three-stage cable car from the Plaza de la Constitución to the summit of Montgó.
  • 2014: The intention to turn the mountain road between Xàbia and Dénia into a toll road.
  • 2015: The plan to charge foreign-plated cars to pay for parking by the Arenal beach.
  • 2016: The rumour that the Arenal zone was going to declare itself independent from Xàbia.
  • 2017: The Province of Alicante planning to adopt GMT along the Costa Blanca region.
  • 2018: The proposal to introduce ANPR technology in Xàbia to monitor traffic in the town and check for proper registration.

EU-subsidized infrastructure could soon be off-limits to British citizens.

On Christmas Eve, after some nine months of negotiation, the UK and the European Union finally agreed a deal on their future relationship, a provisional document of some 1,500 pages that should be ratified by the European Parliament in the New Year with EU diplomats said to have spent their Christmas Day scrutinizing its contents.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the historic agreement as a “small present for anyone who may be looking for something to read in that sleepy post-Christmas lunch moment”, so we took advantage of our time off to closer examine of the fine print and discovered a number of concessions that affect the lives of British citizens living within the borders of the EU.

Hidden within the reams of this lengthy tome are repercussions for those Brits who have chosen to live in an EU country, for it seems that almost anything subsidized by the European Union could be off-limits to British citizens from January 1st 2021, including, but not limited to, any infrastructure that has been funded by Brussels such as sports complexes, cultural centres and other elements such as bridges and car parks.

In the case of Xàbia, this could mean that sports facilities subsidized by the EU, such as the proposed municipal swimming pool, the new sports complex in Freginal and even licences for sports fishing in EU waters, could be off-limits to British citizens, or at least subject to a usage fee to reflect use by a non-EU citizen. The limitation could also apply to the new auditorium, the Central Cinema renovation, and even use of the new access ramp in the port.

The Council would also be obliged to install ANPR camera systems to check the registrations of vehicles which use certain infrastructure, such as the new Triana bridge or the municipal parking area in the port which was recently improved with EU funding, and the appropriate usage fees applied to the owners via data sharing links established with the DVLA in the UK. Further investigation suggests that it will be possible that the only way for UK registered vehicles to cross the river Gorgos without charge would be via the 17th century bridge next to the desalination plant or the fords.

An appendix in the deal inserted late in the negotiations has suggested that governments of EU countries can offer exemptions from expected surcharges to British citizens living in the EU for a nominal fee, which would come in the form of a special VISA-style stamp in the British citizen’s passport. It has been rumoured that holders of the burgundy-coloured UK/EU passport will received a discount, whilst those bearing the new blue-coloured passport will have to pay full price.

Jakob More, spokesman for the ex-pat association ‘British Residents on the Marina Alta (BROMA), was unavailable for comment but a post on his social media account this morning suggested that “innocent British residents had been pawns” in the negotiations.

More details to follow once the deal has been fully ratified by the EU parliament.

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