• The Catalan Parliament, with the CiU and ERC MPs in the forefront, voting the Catalan Government's 2015 budget (by R. Garrido)

    Catalan Government's 2015 budget finally approved after modifying state structures programmes

    The Catalan Parliament has finally approved the Catalan Government’s budget bill for 2015 and the complementary law on fiscal measures with the backing of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing Catalan independence party ERC. The CiU and the ERC introduced last-minute changes concerning the launching of state structures, such as Catalonia's own tax administration. These changes come after the Catalan Council for Constitutional Guarantees (CGE) warned that such state structures cannot go beyond Catalonia's current self-rule powers. The CiU and ERC want to build embryonic structures in order to develop them if a majority of citizens vote for independence in the next Catalan elections, which are to be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum. Opposition parties criticised the new budget for "consolidating" budget cuts and for developing state structures.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, at Barcelona's 2015 Mobile World Congress (by J. R. Torné)

MWC: LG and Apple win Global Mobile Awards, Blackberry presents Leap and Jimmy Wales on language minorities

On the second day of the Mobile World Congress, which is the largest event of the mobile industry and is currently being held in Barcelona, the GSMA announced the Global Mobile Award winners in more than 30 categories and Blackberry presented a new phone oriented towards the business sector. If Then This That won the Best Overall Prize in the app category and LG’s G3 and the iPhone 6 shared the Best Smartphone award. In the featured keynotes speech, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales remarked on the importance of minority languages on the internet. In addition, Wales presented his project to provide free access to Wikipedia in developing countries, following Monday's announcements by Google and Facebook to also provide internet access to the entire planet.

A stand grouping Catalan companies at the 2015 Mobile World Congress (by J. Morros)

Catalan cell-phone industry shows its international success at the Mobile World Congress

Dozens of Catalan companies are on show at the 2015 Mobile World Congress, which is taking place in Barcelona until Thursday. Many of them are gaining notable success in international markets. For instance, an innovative multi-functional grip for smartphones to take photos, which is made in Barcelona, is selling not only throughout Europe but also in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Thailand. This grip, called the ‘Shoulderprod’, is, at the same time, a tripod mount, a hand grip for best stability in videos and photos, and a versatile stand with different positions. The mobile, tablet and TV games company Digital Legends has been internationally successful too. Besides, the Aparca&go app changes the concept of finding a parking space, since the user searches on the map the car parks nearest to its destination and makes a reservation.

Isona Passola, during the interview (by M. Fayos)

Catalan Film Academy President Isona Passola: “We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel”

Isona Passola, the producer of the internationally-acclaimed Catalan film ‘Pa Negre’ (Black Bread), the Spanish contender for an Oscar in 2013, believes that “Catalan culture can be appreciated worldwide”. Passola has made many historical documentaries and is now convinced that “life acquires meaning when working for collective benefit”. Last year she presented ‘L’Endemà’, a documentary aimed at countering the arguments against Catalan independence and financed through crowd-funding. Passola, the current president of the Catalan Film Academy, is “a true defender of the right to form a family” and “has never lost the joie de vivre”.

A branch of the Catalan Public Employment Service (by ACN)

Registered unemployment falls by 7.7% in February, highest drop in 17 years

At the end of February 2015, there were 581,124 people registered with the Catalan Public Employment Service (SOC) as being unemployed, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Social Security. This represents 1,645 fewer jobseekers than were registered at the end of January (582,769), a 0.28% drop. In addition, at the end of February 2015 there were 48,462 fewer registered jobseekers than a year ago, which marks the largest annual decline for registered unemployment in the last 17 years for a February month. This represents a 7.7% fall in the last 12 months. The data released on Tuesday shows an encouraging trend for Spain as a whole as well, since registered unemployment fell by 13,538 people in monthly terms, a 0.3% drop. In annual terms, the Spanish labour market posted a 6.24% drop, with 300,333 fewer registered jobseekers.

  • Grifols' offices in Los Angeles (by J. R. Torné)

    Catalan pharmaceutical Grifols to buy 45% of California-based Alkahest for almost $40 million

    Grifols, a global healthcare company based in Greater Barcelona, announced on Wednesday that it will acquire 45% of the California-based firm Alkahest for $37.5 million. The biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Redwood City (near San Francisco) was founded last year upon the work of Stanford University scientists, who proved that factors in the blood of young animals were able to restore mental capabilities in old animals. This discovery has triggered Grifols' interest, a world leader in blood-derivative products. The two partners will work together on the development of novel plasma-based products for the treatment of cognitive impairment associated with age and other diseases of the central nervous system, including Alzheimer´s.

  • The registering operator Lleida.net has a dedicated stand at the congress (by J. Julià)

    Veteran Catalan companies coexist with projects still in beta at the Mobile World Congress

    The Catalan companies on show at the Mobile World Congress this week not only include recently created start-ups. Some companies have been in the business for over 20 years with delegations in 19 countries, such as the registering operator Lleida.net. There are other projects on show which, although already active, have not been launched completely and are still in beta form, such as King of App, an open source app creator. Neither of them are based in Barcelona, but rather in Lleida in Western Catalonia. Most of the Catalan companies on show at the MWC are at one of the stands of the Catalan Government, which gives these companies space to promote their products either at the general exhibition or in the App Planet hall. But others such as Lleida.net set up their own stands.

  • Barça training this week, before their game against Villareal (by FC Barcelona)

    Villarreal vs FC Barcelona: Barça can reach Spanish Cup's final

    The two sides meet in El Madrigal in the second leg of their Spanish Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening (20h CET). The blaugranes have the upper hand in the tie following their 3-1 win in the first leg last month at Camp Nou. In addition, Barça have the advantage in their Champions League last 16 tie against Manchester City following their 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium. Their 3-1 away victory in the Spanish League at the weekend over Granada has allowed them to cut Real Madrid’s lead at the top of the league to just two points. Now, only Villarreal stand between them and a 36th appearance in the Spanish Cup final. Coach Luis Enrique has his entire first team squad available with the exception of the injured Thomas Vermaelen.

Highlights

  • Günther Oettinger talking at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress (by J. Morros)

    03.03.15 - 21:07

    First 5G connections to be available in 2020, according to network carriers

    In a keynotes speech held at the 2015 Mobile World Congress, which is currently taking place in Barcelona, CEOs from network carriers such as Huawei, South Korea's KT and Orange have explained their vision for facilitating huge increases in speed and the number of connections supported by network carriers over the next five years. This new standard, which is being developed as a collaboration between the industry’s main actors, should...

  • Sundar Pichai, Google's Vice President, at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress (by J. R. Torné)

    03.03.15 - 14:37

    MWC: Samsung and Microsoft present new phones, Google enters carrier market and Zuckerberg outlines Internet.org

    The new flagship phone from Samsung will come in two models, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, according to the announcement that the South Korean company made in Barcelona at the beginning of the Mobile World Congress, the largest annual event of the cell-phone-related industries. Microsoft debuted two new mid-range Lumia phones, the 640 and the 640 XL models, which include the new Windows 10. Google announced its...

  • Oriol Pujol, on Monday at the Catalan Parliament (by R. Garrido)

    03.03.15 - 14:31

    Former 'number 2' of governing Liberal party CDC, Oriol Pujol, denies corrupt practices

    The Catalan Parliament has continued its interrogation of the Pujol family for alleged fiscal fraud and corrupt practices, after Jordi Pujol – who uninterruptedly headed the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003 – confessed in July that his family had kept a fortune in the fiscal haven of Andorra for 34 years without informing the Spanish tax authorities. Pujol (aged 84), his wife, and 6 of their 7 sons and daughters have...

  • Huawei's stand at 2015 Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona (by M. Fernández)

    02.03.15 - 21:47

    Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona with top companies presenting new products

    The major players in the cell-phone-related industries such as Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and Google are currently presenting their new products in Barcelona, consolidating the city’s position as a true meeting point for the sector. For the 10th consecutive year, the biggest event in the world of mobile industries kicked off in the Catalan capital on Monday. The 2015 Mobile World Congress, organised by GSMA, will be in...

  • Abertis' headquarters, based in Barcelona (by ACN)

    02.03.15 - 21:21

    Barcelona-based Abertis to purchase 7,377 mobile phone towers in Italy for almost €700 million

    Barcelona-based Abertis, a multinational company specialised in the management of toll roads and telecommunications infrastructure, has reached an agreement to purchase 7,377 mobile phone towers in Italy at a total cost of €693 million. The Catalan group – which saw its net profits rise last year to €655 million – will acquire 90% of the shares of Galata, the subsidiary of the Italian operator Wind that owns the...

  • A fruit stall at La Boqueria market (by A. Martínez)

    02.03.15 - 18:00

    One challenging week as a vegetarian in Barcelona

    Is life really that difficult as a vegetarian in Barcelona? We challenged the predominantly meat and fish-based Catalan cuisine through a week of discovering restaurants, organic shops and vegan eateries in the city. Ham legs tied to the ceiling do not help the perception that vegetarians would have to survive on a diet of nuts and bread, but after our search we found that Barcelona is an incredibly vegetarian-friendly city. This short...

  • Lewis Hamilton driving his Mercedes at Catalunya Circuit (by A. Barrionuevo / E. Jorge)

    02.03.15 - 17:44

    Team Mercedes sets the pace at Catalunya Circuit in last F1 pre-season tests

    German manufacturer Mercedes AMG Petronas have confirmed during the last Formula 1 tests at the Circuit de Catalunya that they are two steps ahead of the rest of the teams. Nico Rosberg notched on Friday the quickest time of the second week of tests, with a time of 1:22.792, with British driver Lewis Hamilton also dominating Saturday’s time trials. Williams seem to be the second-best team in the paddock according to these test days...

  • Súarez, Rakitic and Neymar celebrating the Croatian's goal against Granada (by FC Barcelona)

    01.03.15 - 10:31

    Granada CF vs FC Barcelona: Three goals and three points (1-3)

    Goals from Rakitic, Suárez and Messi produce an important win in Andalusia that put the pressure on Real Madrid, the Spanish League leaders. A workmanlike performance from Barça against relegation-threatened Granada resulted in the perfect response to last week’s setback at home to Málaga. A thoroughly deserved 3-1 win keeps the Catalans well in the hunt for the Liga title. The only downside to a fine performance...

  • People arriving at last year's Mobile World Congress (by ACN)

    28.02.15 - 09:42

    Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress to generate €436 million for the local economy

    The 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC) will have an economic impact in Greater Barcelona of some €436 million and create 12,627 jobs, figures that beat last year’s results, when the event generated €397 million and 7,220 jobs. The 2015 edition of the MWC, which is the world’s largest event in the mobile and cell phone-related industries, will take place in the Catalan capital from the 2nd to the 5th...

  • John Mayall at last year's Black Music Festival in Girona (by ACN)

    27.02.15 - 17:19

    Girona’s Black Music Festival brings together more than 50 local and international artists for its 14th edition

    In 2002, the ‘Black Music Festival’ was born when the ‘La Mirona’ concert room was created in Salt, a small city next to Girona. The festival wanted to become a shop window for both local and international artists of black music styles that have evolved from their original soul music source. This weekend it will kick off its 14th edition, which brings together almost 50 artists from English-speaking...

  • Judge Santiago Vidal on Thursday, minutes after the CGPJ's decision (by P. Solà)

    26.02.15 - 23:53

    Judge who wrote draft of Catalan Constitution is expelled from judiciary by Spanish authorities

    Barcelona Provincial High Court judge Santiago Vidal, who has openly supported independence, has been expelled from the judiciary for a 3-year period by the Spain’s Judicial Power Council (CGPJ). The sanction is far from unanimous and has been adopted after an 9-hour-long debate among the CGPJ’s 21 members, since the liberal minority was against sanctioning the judge for having written a draft Constitution for an independent...

  • The Catalan President and CiU leader, Artur Mas (left), and the ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras (right), when they announced the agreement to call early elections and to develop state structures (by ACN)

    26.02.15 - 23:07

    Catalan Council for Constitutional Guarantees criticises state structures included in 2015 budget

    The Catalan Government’s Budget for 2015 includes some “unconstitutional” measures, according to the Council for Constitutional Guarantees (CGE), which is an advisory body issuing non-binding reports. The CGE has criticised a number of bill amendments developing some state structures, but not all of them. The body has highlighted the way the budget bill is to develop Catalonia’s own tax administration and its own...

  • A rehearsal of the Yunnan Acrobatic Troupe of China before the festival's opening (by A. Recolons)

    26.02.15 - 14:08

    4th edition of Figueres Circus Festival to break participation record

    The 2015 edition of the Figueres Circus Festival, in the north-eastern part of Catalonia near the French border, will break all records. The festival will be held from Thursday, 26 February to Monday, 2 March. This edition will feature 24 previously unseen performances in Europe by more than 80 artists from 17 different countries, thanks to the incorporation of new countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Uzbekistan....

  • Spain's Constitutional Court, based in Madrid (by ACN)

    25.02.15 - 22:47

    Constitutional Court bans Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and call for original independence vote

    Spain’s Constitutional Court has ruled against the Catalan Parliament’s Law on Consultation Votes, approved in September, and the President of the Catalan Government’s Decree calling for a consultation vote on independence on 9 November last. The Constitutional Court had already temporarily suspended both legal measures in October, but it still was yet to issue its definitive verdict. After the temporary suspension, the...

  • Catalan GDP grew by 1.3% in 2014 and will increase by 2.5% in 2015 (by ACN)

    25.02.15 - 21:49

    Catalonia’s economy to grow 2.5% in 2015, according to Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce

    Catalan GDP grew by 1.3% in 2014 and will increase by 2.5% in 2015, claims Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce. “The Catalan economy had a very good performance in 2014, even better than that of Spain as whole, and this acceleration will continue during 2015”, stated the President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, on Wednesday. The day before, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, announced a revised...

  • Luís Suárez scored Barça's two goals against Manchester City (by FC Barcelona)

    25.02.15 - 00:45

    Manchester City FC vs FC Barcelona: Suárez double stuns the Etihad (1-2)

    Two goals from the Uruguayan have set things up perfectly for FC Barcelona for the Champions League last-16-tie’s second leg at the Camp Nou on March 18 by repeating last year’s feat of winning at the Etihad. Kun Agüero pulled one goal back for Manchester City. This Tuesday’s game ended 2-1, with Joe Hart giving Man City a glimmer of hope by saving a Leo Messi penalty in the final minute of injury time. However, a 2-1...