• Catalans are holding municipal elections this Sunday (by R. Garrido)

    Higher turnout in Catalonia's municipal elections, while citizens vote with uncertain political horizons

    By 6 pm (CET time), two hours before the electoral polls close, 44.58% of Catalans had already voted, 6 percentage point higher than the 38.24% registered at the same time in 2011. However, in Barcelona, the turnout is much higher, reaching 46.37% (while four years ago it was 38.21%). This 8 percentage point difference is due to the political battle taking place in the Catalan capital, where the alternative left coalition Barcelona en Comú has a chance of winning the elections ahead of the incumbent Mayor and candidate for the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Xavier Trias. Left-wing voters are likely to have flocked to the electoral polls with the hope of displacing Trias, while many other voters are also likely to have gone to the electoral polls in great numbers to stop the alternative left candidate and former social activist Ada Colau from winning the elections. Election day has gone off without incident but with uncertain political horizons.

Catalans hold municipal elections on Sunday (by ACN)

Municipal elections take place on Sunday in Catalonia in uncertain and agitated atmosphere

Catalans are holding their municipal elections on Sunday, while the elections to the Catalan Parliament are to be held in September, as opposed to other parts of Spain, where they are voting for their regional parliaments on Sunday. These municipal elections come after 7 years of economic crisis and also with very uncertain political horizons. Two debates have dominated the campaign: Catalonia’s independence and the rise of new or secondary parties that promise to change the current model. For many people in Catalonia, Sunday’s elections will be a first stage of the ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence that is going to take place with the Catalan elections on 27 September. It is also the opportunity to support changing the current political, economic and social model, with the rise of alternative left coalitions. Furthermore, majorities and town halls go through significant changes, particularly in Barcelona and the cities of its Metropolitan Area, where there are no clear winners forecast and surprises are likely to happen.

The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, explaining the new bill (by ACN)

Spanish Government could take control of Catalan Police for security reasons, new bill states

The Spanish Government gave the green light on Friday for the bill for the ‘Law on National Security’, amid criticism from Catalan political parties. The new text foresees the Spanish Government taking control of police corps run by the Autonomous Community executives, such as the Catalan Government’s Mossos d’Esquadra, and the local police run by municipalities. This shift of powers would happen if a State of Emergency was to be declared in a particular area due to a natural disaster or in order “to defend Spain” or its “Constitutional values”. Thus, PM Mariano Rajoy is passing a law that would allow the Spanish Government to take control of the Catalan Police if the independence process was to go too far for Madrid’s liking. Besides this, the new bill also establishes powers in some important areas such as cyber security, maritime safety and financial security, among others.

A golf course and PortAventura theme park, next to the land where BCN World should be built (by ACN)

Veremonte could quit BCN World project if definitive Urban Planning does not fit expectations

Veremonte has added additional uncertainty to the future of the BCN World project, the largest holiday resort in Europe based in the Costa Daurada, near Tarragona. After a $6 billion investment, it will include – among other facilities – 6 mega-casino hotels, amusement parks and shopping malls. Veremonte – which was initially leading the project – announced that it could leave, depending on how the Catalan Government will develop the final Urban Plan and how it will set the conditions for the second phase of the casino licences' tender. In 2012, Veremonte had already reached an agreement with La Caixa bank to buy 500 hectares of the land. However, the company missed the first deadline and did not meet the second one (last December) to do so, arguing that the final Urban Plan had not yet been approved. The Catalan Government then jumped in and reached an agreement with La Caixa for the rights to buy the land and guarantee the project's continuation. Veremonte still continues to be linked to the project through the casino licence tender, for which it is running with Hard Rock and Melco.

Xavi Hernández has been Barça's greatest midfielder so far (by FC Barcelona)

Xavi Hernández: “It's time to go”

The midfielder announces he's leaving Barça at the end of the season, after 17 years with the first team. "I'd like to announce that I'm leaving Barça after this season. The decision is definitive yet difficult. I think now is the time to leave, that's the way I feel.” Thus, with those words and raw emotion, Xavi Hernández, the greatest midfielder in FC Barcelona history, made his farewell to the club of his life.He continued: "It was the right decision to stay this year. I still feel important [to the team], but I think it's time. I need a change of scenery. I signed a contract with Al-Sadd [in Qatar] for two seasons and I have a very exciting project at the Aspire Academy. It's the ideal place to continue training."

  • Barça's first kit for the 2015/2016 season, with horizontal stripes for the first time (by FC Barcelona)

    Barça's new kit for the 2015/16 season shows horizontal stripes for first time

    FC Barcelona next season will have a new kit from Nike in which the famous blaugrana stripes will be horizontal by the horizontal stripes of the blaugrana flags that are waved by the fans on match day at Camp Nou. The horizontal stripes have been seen before on kits for the basketball, rugby and track and field teams at FC Barcelona. However, it is the first time in the long and rich history of the Catalan club that the football team will have horizontal stripes on their kit. The new second strip is golden yellow, a tone associated to Catalonia. There are four vertical red stripes on the back over a golden yellow background from top to bottom. The design is inspired by the way that FC Barcelona fans drape the Catalan flag over their backs like a cape, thus expressing their passion for Catalonia and the club.

  • Xavi Hernández played his last Spanish League game as Barça player on Saturday (by FC Barcelona)

    FC Barcelona v Deportivo La Coruña: League's celebration, Xavi's tribute, and a 2–2 draw

    Camp Nou was jubilant for the 2014/15 La Liga title celebration and farewell to Xavi Hernández. Messi net two for Barça but Depor pulled both back with second-half strikes from Lucas and Salomão. Saturday afternoon was the perfect opportunity for FC Barcelona to enjoy a well-deserved rest stop. Nearing the end of a pleasant ten-month journey and just six days after one its biggest highlights, the time had come to pull off the highway, enjoy the scenery and — with the end of the road on the horizon and as visible as ever — refuel for the final two stops.It was a day for contentment, delight, and elation, an occasion to celebrate the 2014/15 La Liga title. But it was also a moment for goodbyes, the ones that nobody likes to make, the time to bid a final farewell to Xavi Hernández, one of the perennial fixtures of this barnstorming band of first-class footballers, who recently told his buddies that this year’s trip would be his last.

  • The Danish flag in Sant Pol de Mar's municipal museum, located next to the town hall (by ACN)

    Town halls in Catalonia to fly Danish flags to avoid ban on pro-independence flags during election campaign

    The Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) has requested Catalan mayors to fly Danish flags in municipal buildings as a way of complying with the ban on pro-independence flags during the electoral campaign and as sign of gratitude to this country, which on Tuesday approved a motion in favour of “a democratic and pacific dialogue” between Spain and Catalonia regarding Catalonia self-determination. The initiative comes from Sant Pol de Mar, a coastal town in the Maresme County (about 50 km north of Barcelona). On Thursday, the municipal Painting Museum next to the town hall flew the Danish flag. The AMI has also requested mayors to hang again pro-independence flags this Sunday just after the polling stations close, which will respect the ban from the main Electoral Authority in Spain (Junta Electoral Central) that ordered the removal of all Catalan pro-independence flags from all "public buildings and polling stations" during the electoral campaign and voting period.

Highlights

  • A short-distance train at Mataró station is ready to work again after the morning chaos (by J. Pujolar)

    21.05.15 - 20:59

    Entire short- and medium-distance train network run by Spanish Government in Catalonia collapses

    There has been railway chaos throughout Catalonia due to a major failure in the control centre of the IT system of the network run by Adif and operated by Renfe, two public companies both owned and managed by the Spanish Government. This incident is to be added to a long list of problems in this network during the last decade due to a lack of investment by the Spanish Government. All the short- and medium-distance trains in Catalonia using...

  • An agri-food company from the Girona Province that exports hams (by ACN)

    20.05.15 - 23:08

    Exports from Catalonia set new historic record and grow 6.6% over first quarter

    Catalan exports totalled €15.66 billion for the period January-March 2015, a 6.6% growth on figures from the 1st quarter of 2014. This represents a new historic high, setting a new record for Catalonia’s export sector, which has been growing strongly over the last few years. As well as this, exports in March increased by 15.4%, reaching the highest amount ever recorded for a single month. Exports from Catalonia during...

  • The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, meeting with Mediterranean regional governments (by A. Segura)

    20.05.15 - 22:43

    Catalonia to host summit of Mediterranean regions on humanitarian crisis in July

    The Catalan Government and the regional governments of Sicily and Provence are promoting a manifesto requesting the European Union to meet the challenge of the humanitarian crisis taking place at the Mediterranean Sea. ‘We are all Mediterranean’ aims to strengthen the commitment at regional level to face and solve this crisis, since the EU and the Member State governments “are not up to the challenge”. In addition,...

  • Representative of the signatories governments, including the Catalan Minister Santi Vila, signing the Memorandum (by ACN)

    20.05.15 - 21:15

    Climate change agreement signed by California, Ontario, Catalonia and 9 other regional governments

    On Tuesday, ahead of the United Nations conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris this autumn, Catalonia signed a 'Memorandum of Understanding' in Sacramento (California), together with 11 other US states, Mexican states, Canadian provinces and regional governments. By taking this step, the Catalan Government and the other signatories commit to cut total greenhouse emissions to 80%-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 or to cut per capita...

  • A sustainable building model on show at Barcelona's 2015 Construmat trade fair (by ACN)

    19.05.15 - 22:19

    Barcelona’s International Construction Show ‘Construmat’ starts amid sector slow recovery

    The 19th edition of Barcelona’s International Building & Construction Show opened its doors on Tuesday, rebranded as 'Beyond Building Barcelona-Construmat'. The event – which is held every two years – will be on until Saturday 23 May, hosting around 300 exhibitors from 15 different countries. For the first time after 7 years of continuous decline for the construction sector, Construmat – the most...

  • Martin Lidegaard, last week at the Danish Parliament (by Ricardo Ramírez / Diplocat)

    19.05.15 - 22:17

    Danish Parliament approves proposal requesting Spain and Catalonia to talk about self-determination

    The Parliament of Denmark approved on Tuesday a proposal debated a week ago requesting Spain and Catalonia to hold "a peaceful and democratic dialogue" on "the question of Catalonia's independence". The motion was approved in the end with the support of 6 of the 8 parliamentary groups and the abstention of the other two, resulting in 64 votes in favour, 41 abstentions and 0 votes against. There have been rumours suggesting that Spanish...

  • The Allure of the Seas, on Tuesday in Barcelona (by E. Rosanas)

    19.05.15 - 21:32

    World's largest cruise ship begins operating from Barcelona, its base for the summer season

    The 'Allure of the Seas' is going to be based in the Catalan capital for the entire summer season, from where it will start and end 25 trips. At 362 metres long, it is the world's largest cruise ship, and the equivalent to 4 football pitches. Measuring 66 metres across, it is able to transport more than 6,300 tourists and 2,380 staff. It has 16 docks and 2,700 cabins. This Tuesday, it is starting its first trip of the season from the...

  • Jane Goodall in the CosmoCaixa science museum, in one of her seldom visits to Barcelona (by CosmoCaixa)

    18.05.15 - 21:27

    British primatologist Jane Goodall awarded prestigious Premi Internacional Catalunya

    Jane Goodall, British anthropologist and primatologist, has been awarded the 27th Premi Internacional Catalunya, which is the most prestigious prize given by the Catalan Government and recognises outstanding people who have contributed to humankind’s development and progress through their careers. The award follows the decision of an independent jury formed of high-profile professionals from Catalonia and abroad. The jury has...

  • ESADE's business administration college (by J. Molina)

    18.05.15 - 21:23

    Financial Times: Barcelona-based IESE and ESADE among world’s top 10 business schools

    The Barcelona-based business schools IESE and ESADE have been ranked among the 10 best business schools in the world according to the Executive Education Ranking 2015 by the ‘Financial Times’. For the 17th year, the British newspaper rated the best 85 customised programmes (tailor-made for corporate customers) and the top 75 open programmes (available to all working managers) in the world. With regard to the...

  • Jordi Sánchez on Saturday, after having been elected President of the ANC (by ACN)

    18.05.15 - 21:05

    New pro-independence civil society leader rejects unilateral independence just after Catalan elections

    Jordi Sánchez, the new President of the civil society organisation Catalan National Assembly (ANC), which co-organised the massive pro-independence rallies, has ruled out the possibility of unilaterally declaring independence the day after the next Catalan Parliament elections, should a clear majority of pro-independence parties win. These elections are presented by the Catalan Government and by the parties supporting independence as...

  • Barça players at the Vicente Calerón's pitch after winning the Spanish League title (by FC Barcelona)

    17.05.15 - 22:27

    Atlético Madrid vs FC Barcelona: Barça take the Spanish League title at the Calderón (0-1)

    A brilliant goal from Leo Messi hands the blaugranes the win that they needed to claim their 23rd Spanish League title. A year ago, Atlético Madrid won the league title with a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou and tonight Barça returned the favour and brought the trophy back home with a 0-1 win at the Vicente Calderón, as they took the first leg of their possible treble with a game to spare.As the second half ticked away, Real...

  • The CTM's headquarters in Manresa (by ACN)

    15.05.15 - 21:54

    Technological innovation in Catalonia boosted as public research centres merge

    A major step forward in Catalonia's public research on technology has been made this month, with the official establishing of Eurecat on 1 May. The new integrated hub is a result of the merger of 5 advanced Catalan technology centres in the first phase. Last Wednesday, it incorporated a further 13 companies onto its Board. Eurecat is aimed at boosting technology research and its business applicability, particularly among private SMEs, which...

  • Paul Preston's acceptance speech after his honourary doctorate from the Rovira i Virgili University (by ACN)

    15.05.15 - 21:15

    Paul Preston: comparing current Spanish language's situation in Catalonia to Franco's repression of Catalan is "ridiculous"

    The renowned Hispanicist Paul Preston, Professor of International History at the London School of Economics (LSE), received an honorary PhD from Tarragona’s Rovira i Virgili University (URV) on Friday. Before the ceremony, Preston seized the opportunity to state that comparing the Spanish language's current situation in Catalonia to that of the Catalan language during Franco's dictatorship "is ridiculous". "In 35 years no one told me...

  • The Terminal 1 of Barcelona El Prat Airport (by ACN)

    14.05.15 - 23:22

    Train shuttle linking Barcelona Airport T1 with city centre to start construction work "in a few weeks"

    The Spanish Government have finally announced that construction work for the train shuttle connecting Terminal 1 of Barcelona El Prat Airport to the city centre will kick off "in a few weeks", after many years of delay. The statement was made on Thursday by Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, after the weekly Cabinet meeting. The new train shuttle will carry travellers between T1, the newest and busiest...

  • Tàrrega's town hall, with the pro-independence flag (by O. Bosch)

    14.05.15 - 23:14

    Electoral Authority orders removal of all pro-independence flags from public buildings during campaign

    The main Electoral Authority in Spain (Junta Electoral Central) has ordered on Thursday the removal of all Catalan independence flags from all "public buildings and polling stations" in Catalonia during the electoral campaign for the Municipal Elections, which take place on 24 May. The order comes after a request from the main pro-Spanish unity civil society group, Societat Civil Catalana (SCC). According to SCC, there are pro-independence...

  • The Spanish Minister of Education, José Ignacio Wert (by ACN)

    14.05.15 - 22:55

    Outrage over Spanish Education Minister comparing linguistic immersion in Catalan with Francoism

    The Spanish Minister for Education, José Ignacio Wert, has been recorded stating that "the situation of Spanish in the education system of Catalonia, limited to being used as a non-tuition language, like any foreign language, is comparable to the situation of Catalan in the times they like so much to remember", referring to Franco's dictatorship. Wert made the statement on Wednesday with a group of journalists and one of them...