• Lluís Llach will be heading the unitary pro-independence list 'Junts pel Sí' in Girona (by ACN)

    Singer-songwriter and anti-Franco activist Lluís Llach to head pro-independence unitary list in Girona

    Lluís Llach, one of the most famous Catalan musicians and one of the main voices against Franco's dictatorship, will  top the pro-independence unitary list running in the Girona Province in the forthcoming Catalan elections, which should become a 'de facto' referendum on independence. In the Tarragona Province, the 'Junts pel Sí' pro-independence list ('Together for the Yes') will be topped by economics professor Germà Bel, an expert on infrastructure. The list groups together Liberal, Social-Democrat, Green, and Christian-Democrat politicians, as well as many independents and representatives from civil society. It will officially start the independence process if they win the elections and pro-independence parties obtain an absolute majority in the Catalan Parliament. The list is topped by former Eco-Socialist Member of the European Parliament, Raül Romeva, who is running in Barcelona Province.

Tourists visiting Barcelona (by O. Campuzano)

New tourist record in Catalonia: 7.4 million foreigners came in the first half of 2015

The number of foreign tourists visiting Catalonia continues to increase year after year. On Wednesday, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism released the figures for foreigners visiting Spain between January and June 2015. 7,439,211 international visitors came to Catalonia in that period, the highest number ever and a 4.4% increase on the figures from the previous year (when 7.1 million foreigners came). In addition, Catalonia also led the destination ranking within Spain, attracting 25.5% of all 29.2 million international tourists visiting the country during the first six months of the year (a 4.2% increase on 2014 figures). In the month of June, 1.71 million foreign visitors came to Catalonia, a 1.8% increase compared to last year and representing 25.6% of all international tourists travelling to Spain in that month.

Security cameras in the Spanish Parliament (by ACN)

Spanish Parliament approves law allowing Rajoy to take control of Catalan police "to defend Spain"

The Spanish Parliament has approved a bill through which the Spanish Government can take control of the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalonia's police corps managed by the Catalan Executive), in order "to defend Spain" or in the event of a natural disaster. The Spanish Government has justified the measure by stressing the need to enhance coordination in a crisis situation, putting several security corps under the same command. However, the law also comes in the middle of Catalonia's debate on independence from Spain and with several voices in Madrid, including leading members of the Spanish Government, talking about the possibility of suspending Catalonia's autonomy in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence. The Catalan Government will take the new law to the Constitutional Court, as it is an invasion of its own powers.

The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, a few weeks ago in Madrid (by ACN)

Rajoy “ready” to face unilateral declaration of independence, which would be “a frontal attack on the law”

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, stated on Tuesday that a unilateral declaration of independence in Catalonia in the event that pro-independence parties obtain an absolute majority in September’s Catalan elections would be “a frontal attack on the law”, “which has no precedent in democratic and civilised countries”. The day after the pro-independence unitary list presented its road map for the months after the Catalan elections, which are to be transformed into a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence, Rajoy repeated that he is “ready” to face “any problem” and insisted that he “will not allow” a unilateral declaration of independence to happen. He asked for “calm” and insisted that the next Catalan elections “are only about electing an Autonomous Community parliament”. In the presence of Algeria’s Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, 2 of the 3 questions addressed to Rajoy by the press were about Catalonia’s independence.

Luis Suárez scored Barça's first goal after the summer break, after Marc Bartra's assist (by FC Barcelona)

FC Barcelona vs Los Angeles Galaxy: Barça's solid start to the preseason (2-1)

Confident FC Barcelona defeat the MLS champions with goals from Luis Suárez and Sergi Roberto. FC Barcelona got their preseason off to a fine start with a 2-1 victory against MLS champions Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena in front of an astonishing crowd of 93,226. Goals from Luis Suárez and Sergi Roberto put the Catalans well in command, and Tommy Meyer’s 92nd minute header merely served as late consolation for the Californian outfit. There was a carnival atmosphere in the stands, but the football in the first 45 minutes did not always rise to the occasions. Barça were still trying to get into their rhythm in their first game after the summer break against a side that is already deep into its own season. But the Galaxy limited most of their efforts to frustrating the Catalan game-plan. 

  • MACBA's new Director, Ferran Barenblit (by P. Francesch)

    Argentinean Ferran Barenblit chosen as new director of Barcelona's Contemporary Art Museum MACBA

    Barcelona's Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA) is entering a new period, under the leadership of Ferran Barenblit, born in Buenos Aires in 1968. The international competition opened to choose MACBA's new director has resulted in the hiring of Barenblit, who until the present day was Director of Madrid's CA2M Art Centre. Previously, the Argentinean manager had been Director of Barcelona’s Santa Mónica Art Centre (from 2003 to 2008). The MACBA opened a public competition in March, after the previous Director, Bartomeu Marí, resigned in the wake of the great controversy surrounding the last-minute cancellation of a temporary exhibition because one of the sculptures depicted the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, being sodomised by a dog. The sculpture had been designed by the Austrian artist Ines Doujak. Marí decided to cancel the opening, provoking loud protests from curators and a significant public controversy, with accusations of censorship being aimed at the director.

  • A restaurant in Lleida (by ACN)

    Unemployment falls to 19.1% in Catalonia and 22.4% in Spain in June

    At the end of June there were 31,900 fewer jobseekers in Catalonia than in March and 44,200 less than a year ago, according to the Active Population Survey for the second quarter of the year released on Thursday. These figures mean Catalonia's total number of unemployed was 726,200 individuals and that the unemployment rate was 19.1% at the end of the second quarter. In March, the unemployment rate was 20.05%; in December, 19.88%; and in September, 19.1% as well, the same as for June of this year. In addition, the number of people with a job increased by 51,800 individuals between March and June, a 1.71% increase in quarterly terms. Compared to a year ago, in June there were 35,000 more people with a job than in June 2014. At Spanish level, unemployment also decreased during the second quarter of the year, with 295,600 fewer jobseekers registered, a 5.43% reduction on figures from March. In the whole of Spain, there were 5,149,000 people without a job and a 22.37% unemployment rate overall.

  • Barça supporters in Berlin's Olympic Stadium (by FC Barcelona)

    UEFA fines FC Barcelona for supporters' Catalan independence flags at Champions League final

    UEFA's Disciplinary Committee has decided to issue FC Barcelona, the current champions of Europe, with a €30,000 fine due to the Catalan independence flags displayed and the songs sung by its supporters during May's Champions League final in Berlin. Despite UEFA representatives present at the final having praised the "excellent behaviour" of the Catalan supporters during the game in their official report, the Disciplinary Committee acted after a complaint was filed at a later stage by a Ukrainian lawyer based on the TV broadcast. UEFA condemns "the use of gestures, words […] to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature" in its Disciplinary Regulations.

Highlights

  • Basketball star Kobe Bryant, who is a FC Barcelona fan, visited the Catalan team's training session in Los Angeles (by FC Barcelona)

    21.07.15 - 21:04

    Los Angeles Galaxy v FC Barcelona: The treble winner are back!

    The Catalans are in California for the first friendly of the 2015/16 preseason in their debut appearance in the International Champions Cup. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California is the venue for FC Barcelona’s first match of the 2015/16 preseason, which kicks off at 8.00pm on Tuesday local time and early Wednesday morning back in Barcelona at 5.00am CET. A crowd of over 90,000 is expected to watch as the Catalans face current Major...

  • Pablo Iglesias talking in Barcelona on Monday evening, next to ICV-EUiA leaders (by ACN)

    21.07.15 - 17:05

    Podemos leader promises to respect “the democratic will expressed by Catalans” on self-determination

    Pablo Iglesias, Secretary General of the Spanish alternative left party Podemos, has committed himself in Barcelona to respecting “the democratic will expressed by Catalans” regarding a self-determination vote, although he did not mention independence. Iglesias made this statement during the presentation of the electoral coalitions built for both the Catalan and Spanish elections with the Catalan Eco-Socialist and Post-Communist...

  • Ramon Adell (left) and Josep Maria Bartomeu (right) shaking hands on Monday (by FC Barcelona)

    20.07.15 - 23:14

    Taking office of FC Barcelona's new board, headed by Josep Maria Bartomeu

    Ramon Adell, president of FC Barcelona's Management Committee, and Josep Maria Bartomeu, newly elected president of the Catalan club, have signed the transfer of powers on Monay in the President Suñol Box at Camp Nou and subsequently held an extraordinary meeting of the Management Committee and the new Board of Directors of FC Barcelona, which officially took office. FC Barcelona elections took place on Saturday and incumbent...

  • The presentation of the 'Junts pel Sí' unitary pro-independence list (by B. Fuentes)

    20.07.15 - 22:19

    "If the majority is there, the Catalan Parliament will solemnly declare the start of the independence process", states Romeva

    The pro-independence unitary list for the next Catalan elections and the road map towards independence were officially presented on Monday evening at Catalonia's National History Museum. Liberals, Social-Democrats, Greens, Christian-Democrats, Socialists and civil society organisations are running together and transforming the 27 September elections into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence. "What we are doing here is very strange but we...

  • Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern Munich's current manager and former FC Barcelona coach, casting his ballot in the 9 November symbolical self-determination vote (by ACN)

    20.07.15 - 15:21

    Football coach Pep Guardiola to symbolically run in pro-independence list for Catalan elections

    The current manager of FC Bayern Munich, Catalonia-born Pep Guardiola, will occupy the symbolic last position on the unitary pro-independence list running in the next Catalan Parliament elections, which groups together Liberals, Social-Democrats, Christian-Democrats, Socialists, Greens and civil society organisations, according to news released on Monday morning by the ‘El País’ and ‘El Periódico’...

  • Masip, Bartra and Piqué (from left to right) arriving at Los Angeles (by FC Barcelona)

    20.07.15 - 14:45

    FC Barcelona arrive in the USA

    At around 2.00pm local time on Sunday afternoon (11.00pm CET) Barça landed at Los Angeles airport following a twelve hour direct flight from Barcelona. The blaugranes had left at 11.00am CET for the United States after a week of training prior to their pre-season tour across the Atlantic. California welcomed FC Barcelona with cloudy skies but warm temperatures with Los Angeles being the first of three US cities that Barça will...

  • The King of Spain, Felipe VI (left), and the Catalan President, Artur Mas (right), on Friday at La Zarzuela Palace (by ACN)

    17.07.15 - 21:58

    King of Spain and Catalan President hold formal meeting

    "I come in peace", stated the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, when a journalist asked him whether he saw himself coming to La Zarzuela Palace once again as a Head of State on an official visit. It was the first meeting between the Catalan President and the King of Spain, Felipe VI, after the unitary pro-independence list was announced for the forthcoming Catalan Parliament elections, scheduled for 27 September and likely to...

  • From left to right: Joan Herrera, Pablo Iglesias and Dolors Camats in late June (by ACN)

    17.07.15 - 12:46

    Podemos and Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV to run together in both Catalan and Spanish elections

    On Friday, the Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV and alternative left-wing Podem (Catalan branch of the Spanish party Podemos), reached an agreement to run together in the Spanish elections, after already having agreed a few days ago to run together in the next Catalan elections (scheduled for 27 September). The Spanish elections have not been called yet, but are expected to be held later this year, according to Barcelona-based newspaper...

  • The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in a recent press conference (by ACN)

    16.07.15 - 21:09

    Rajoy: "Catalonia's independence will not take place"

    The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has reacted to the unitary pro-independence list that will run in the next Catalan elections (scheduled for 27 September) and which groups the main civil society organisations with Liberals, Social-Democrats, Socialists, Greens and Christian-Democrats politicians. These elections will become a 'de facto' plebiscite on Catalonia's independence from Spain, after almost 3 years of the Spanish...

  • Cranes in Barcelona's Port (by ACN)

    16.07.15 - 21:07

    Catalan exports up by 4.5% in May, setting a new record for this month

    This May, Catalan exports increased by 4.5% on the same period in 2014, reaching €5,301.7 million and setting a new record as the best May since 2000 (when comparable data started to be collected), according to figures published on Thursday by the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness. Imports also rose, by 2.7% to €6,331.2 million. The chemical industry accounted for €1,433.9 million, increasing by 7.1%,...

  • Former Catalan MEP, Raül Romeva, at the European Parliament (by European Parliament / ACN)

    15.07.15 - 21:44

    Raül Romeva, former Eco-Socialist MEP, will top the unitary pro-independence electoral list

    Former Member of the European Parliament Raül Romeva, who also used to be a member of the Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV, will be heading the pro-independence unitary list formed for the next Catalan elections by the Liberal party CDC, the Social-Democrat ERC, the Socialist MES and the Christian-Democrat DC with leading representatives from civil society. Civil society activists Carme Forcadell and Muriel Casals will come second and...

  • The report has been presented at the European Parliament (by L. Pous)

    15.07.15 - 21:40

    Independence would be economically beneficial for Catalonia, finds Brussels think tank CEPS

    The Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and Barcelona-based Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) think tanks, together with an Italian and a Greek research centre, have presented a report stating that the economy of an independent Catalonia would grow more in the next 15 years than if the current 'status quo' was kept. The study analyses 3 different scenarios: the current model, an agreed independence process and a...

  • A caption of Airbnb's portal (by Airbnb / ACN)

    15.07.15 - 21:29

    Newer forms of tourist accommodations to be regulated under Catalan Government decree

    The Catalan Government has presented a decree, pending approval "in the coming months," that will regulate up to eight types of tourist accommodations, including new types that until now were not contemplated by the law, like motorhome areas, casual Bed & Breakfasts and informal rentals. The decree is an effort to quell the rapid expansion of tourist accommodations in newer platforms – like the Internet service Airbnb – and...

  • A range of Cacaolat products (by ACN)

    15.07.15 - 21:26

    Cacaolat comes to Portugal, increasing further the Catalan brand's internationalisation

    Cacaolat – a popular chocolate milkshake produced in Catalonia since 1933 – continues to expand its international presence and has now arrived in Portugal as well. Invented in 1931 by Catalan entrepreneur Joan Viader Roger (already the owner of milk factory Letona), two years later it went on the market, becoming the first industrially manufactured cacao smoothie in the world, the company claims. Notwithstanding that its...

  • Jordi Sánchez (President of the ANC) and Muriel Casals (President of Òmnium Cultural) after this Tuesday afternoon's meeting (by R. Garrido)

    14.07.15 - 22:12

    Green light for unitary pro-independence electoral list with politicians and independents

    The main civil society organisations supporting independence have backed the creation of a single unitary list among the main forces aiming to transform the next Catalan Parliament elections, scheduled for 27 September, into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence. After months of discussions and public disagreements, there is finally a wide consensus that, even if it does not include all the pro-independence parties, is backed by a wide...

  • Energy prices have contributed to the increase of the inflation rate (by ACN)

    14.07.15 - 22:01

    Highest annual inflation for Catalonia in last year: 0.3%

    Prices increased by three-tenths during June and left an annual inflation of 0.3%, the highest in Catalonia in the last year, particularly since June 2014, according to data published Tuesday by the Spanish Institute of Statistics (INE). This data marks the second consecutive month with positive inflation in Catalonia after six consecutive months of recording negative rates. Spain as a whole also entered this June with positive inflation...