• Eduardo Torres-Dulce in an old picture (by ACN)

    Director of Public Prosecution Office resigns after arguing with Rajoy and Catalan prosecutors

    Spain’s Director of the Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, has announced his resignation “for personal reasons”. However, it is well-known that Torres-Dulce has had several arguments with the Spanish Government, run by the People’s Party (PP) and chaired by Mariano Rajoy. The latest argument was about prosecuting the Catalan President and other members of the Catalan Government for the symbolic vote on independence held on 9 November. Several PP members announced the penal actions before Torres-Dulce had given the instruction to press charges. At that time, Torres-Dulce denied having been pressured by the Spanish Government, but many voices criticised the absence of a separation of powers. On top of this, the main public prosecutors in Catalonia initially rejected the criminal complaint, but Torres-Dulce – appointed by the Spanish Government – obliged them to file it. Furthermore, he has also had many arguments with the PP on account of the numerous corruption scandals being investigated.

Jordi Pujol (centre) and his wife, Marta Ferrussola, in their house in the Catalan Pyrenees this summer (by L. Busquets)

Judge indicts former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, his wife, one son and two daughters

The former Catalan President and founder of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Jordi Pujol, confessed in July that his family had kept millions in fiscal havens for almost 35 years without informing tax authorities. Furthermore, in the last two years, several judicial and police investigations have implicated several of Jordi Pujol's sons in financial and corruption scandals. Now, the judge investigating the former Catalan President's confession has decided to indict him, as well as his wife, Marta Ferrussola, and three of their children: Mireia, Pere and Marta. Three other sons have been already indicted for other cases: Jordi (junior), Oriol and Oleguer. The fraud confessed by Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government for 23 consecutive years (1980-2003) and was a key person during the fight against Franco and the democratic transition, has had a great impact upon Catalan society.

Felip Puig (right) presenting the Catalan Government's new initiative (by P. Mateos)

Private companies to be created within 2 days in Catalonia

The Catalan Government has issued the Bureaucratic Simplification Law, which should speed up the creation of new private businesses. The new bill should make things easier for 75% of new business initiatives, according to the Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig. He explained that entrepreneurs carrying out innocuous or low-risk activities will be able to create a new company and start working within 48 hours, after having signed a responsibility statement, registered the new company and made sure that their premises respect all the regulations. Therefore, it will be the entrepreneurs' responsibility to make sure that the new business respects the legal framework, setting up "a framework of trust" between the entrepreneurs and the Government, said Puig. Once the business activity launches, public bodies may run inspections to make sure everything is in order.

The ERC's Spokesperson for economic affairs at the Catalan Parliament, Pere Aragonès, on Monday (by A. Moldes)

Catalan Government's budget for 2015 to pass its first parliamentary filter

The left-wing independence party ERC announced it will not block the Catalan Government's budget proposal for 2015, which should allow the bill to continue its parliamentary approval process. ERC's decision comes within the negotiations with the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU to run together or separately in early Catalan elections that should be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence. The CiU is missing 18 MPs to get the absolute majority and it needs the votes or the abstention from at least one other group to approve next year's budget. The ERC and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) are the only two groups that could enable the bill to pass, although they do not seem willing to do so. By not blocking the budget, the ERC is "facilitating" an agreement with the CiU. However, they are expecting the new budget not to be approved in the end because early elections should be called, although they "do not rule out any scenario".

The talk of Joan Herrera (right) on Monday (by N. Julià)

Green Socialist leader highlights the need to vote on social issues and budget cuts besides independence

Joan Herrera, the leader of the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV-EUiA, also held his own conference on Catalonia's political future and self-determination road map, after those of the Catalan President, the Spanish Prime Minister and three other political leaders. Despite supporting Catalans' right to vote on independence, Herrera rejected exclusively voting on independence, since after years of budget cuts and corruption scandals, citizens also have to vote on social issues and measures to clean up the democratic system. Herrera strongly criticised the austerity measures approved by the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the People's Party (PP). The ICV-EUiA does not have an official position regarding independence and about half of its leadership and voters would support it, while the other half supports greater powers for the Catalan Government within a federal Spain.

  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, addressing the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday (by A. Moldes)

    Spanish Government may eliminate interest rates on loans funding Autonomous Communities

    The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, has announced new measures “to reduce the interest rates” paid by the Autonomous Community governments, including that of Catalonia. A few hours early, Spanish Finance Ministry sources told the CNA that the interest rates of the loans given to the regional governments through the Liquidity Fund (FLA) and the fund to pay providers would soon be lowered to 0%. Instead of modifying the pre-crisis-designed inter-territorial funding scheme, which legally expired a year ago, or authorising the Autonomous Communities to address the financial markets, the Spanish Government has been issuing loans with high interest rates to fund the regional executives. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, was sceptical about the announcement and urged the Spanish Government to approve a new inter-territorial funding scheme.

  • Íñigo Méndez de Vigo (right) talking with his French homologue, Harlem Désir (by European Council)

    European Council commits "to respect" Member State decisions on their "territorial integrity"

    The Spanish Government has welcomed a European Council decision which emphasises that "territorial integrity" is "an essential function" of each Member State. Furthermore, the EU institution will "respect" the "national identities of Member States inherent in their fundamental political and constitutional structures, inclusive of regional and local self-government". Such statements are included within a more general declaration about respecting the rule of law within the European Union, issued after recent events in Hungary. However, the Spanish Government managed to include such references to the document, in the middle of the debate about Catalonia's potential independence from Spain and its continuity within the EU. EU Treaties would have to be reformed to include Catalonia, but they would also have to be reformed in order to kick it out of the EU, since there are no specific provisions on this case.

  • Sandro scored one goal against a honourable Huesca side (by FC Barcelona)

    FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca (8-1): Barça roll into Spanish Cup's last 16

    The Blaugrana beat a brave Huesca side at Camp Nou with a convincing 8-1 victory at the second leg of the Spanish Cup’s round 16.
In a game that saw many of Barça’s regular players sitting and watching, it was one of their stars, Pedro, who did real damage. Pedro’s first-half hat trick leads the way as the Catalans march onward and upward in the competition. Adama, who had come on for Munir in the 74th, scored his first career goal after just three minutes on the field. This Tuesday night’s win also provided two other milestones for Barça. Javier Mascherano played in his 200th career game with the Club while goalkeeper Jordi Masip was making his official debut.

Highlights

  • Barça and Manchester City will face each other at the last 16 round of the Champions League (by FC Barcelona)

    15.12.14 - 17:13

    Manchester City will be FC Barcelona's opponents in the Champions League's last 16

    The first leg in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League will be played in Manchester on the 24th of February with the return leg at Camp Nou on the 18th of March. The tie is a repeat of the encounter in the last 16 the previous season, which was the two sides' only previous meeting in Europe. Barça came through victorious. Manchester City appeared to be out of the competition at one point in the...

  • Pedro scored three goals against Getafe last season, but on Saturday the game stayed without goals (by FC Barcelona)

    14.12.14 - 12:32

    Getafe vs FC Barcelona: Goals didn’t want to come (0-0)

    The Catalans dominated from start to finish, but the goals just didn’t want to come. Barça were by far the better side, but Getafe limited themselves to neutralising that superiority and got away with a point. With Neymar absent through injury and his place in the Barça frontline occupied by Pedro, the game got off to a quiet start, with neither side doing anything of note for the first quarter of an hour. The second...

  • The DHUB building, hosting Barcelona's Design Museum (by A. Veciana)

    12.12.14 - 21:20

    Barcelona Design Museum opens with a 70,000 collection bringing together 4 museums

    The Design Museum of Barcelona will open on December 14 and showcase the diversity of its collections and their origins, across 4 permanent exhibitions. The new centre, located within the DUHB building, will have a total collection of 70,000 items, coming from the previously existing Museum of Decorative Arts, the Ceramics Museum, the Textile Museum and the Cabinet of Graphic Arts. The aim of the new museum will be to "rediscover" the...

  • The presentation of the report on Catalonia's scientific production (by ACN)

    12.12.14 - 21:12

    Scientific production in Catalonia endures despite a 19% reduction of research funds

    In 2011 and 2012, funds for scientific research in Catalonia dropped from €277 million to €224 million, a 19% decrease, according to a study issued on Friday by the Catalan Association of Public Universities. Despite this drastic budget reduction, scientific production has managed to keep similar levels to previous years and continue standing at levels similar to those in countries such as the UK or Belgium. The report compiles...

  • Fuel prices are behind the inflation rate drop (by ACN)

    12.12.14 - 21:10

    Catalonia posts a -0.1% annual inflation rate in November, the second negative figure in 2014

    For the second time this year, prices have decreased in Catalonia in annual terms. By the end of November, inflation dropped by -0.1% compared to 12 months ago, mostly due to a drop in electricity and fuel prices, according to figures released on Friday by the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE). In monthly terms, prices stagnated over November compared to the October ones. In the whole of Spain, prices dropped by -0.1% in monthly terms and...

  • Recycling bins in Mollerussa, a town near Lleida, in western Catalonia (by ACN)

    12.12.14 - 20:51

    Catalan homes recycled 80% of cardboard, paper and plastic packaging in 2013

    In 2013, 80.7% of cardboard, paper and plastic packaging used in Catalan households was recycled. This rate is 2 percentage points lower than that registered in 2012 due to people stealing waste from recycling containers, according to representatives from the industry. Catalonia's overall recycling rate is 38% but the Catalan Government aims to make this 60% by 2020. The level of paper and plastic recycling by Catalan homes is almost 9...

  • Passengers travelling through Barcelona El Prat's Terminal 1 a few months ago (by ACN)

    11.12.14 - 21:44

    Barcelona El Prat Airport reaches more than 35 million passengers between January and November

    The number of passengers travelling through the main Catalan airport continues to grow year after year. Between January and November, 35.1 million people used this infrastructure, which represents a 6.8% increase from the same period in 2013. In the first 11 months of 2014, the number of passengers almost reached the global passenger figure for the whole of 2013: 35.2 million. In monthly terms, Barcelona El Prat posted a 3.8% passenger...

  • La Caixa and the Catalan Government sign the agreement on BCN World's land (by J. R. Torné)

    11.12.14 - 21:37

    Land to build BCN World's macro-casinos worth €110 million and managed by Catalan Government

    The Catalan Government is now managing the sale of the 150 hectares owned by La Caixa on which the BCN World holiday resort should build its 6 macro-casinos. On Thursday the bank and the Catalan Executive signed the agreement, which comes the day after the private investor Veremonte announced it was postponing the land purchase once again. Veremonte had an exclusivity agreement to buy 500 hectares of land before December 10 at midnight for...

  • Miquel Iceta during his conference on Wednesday evening (by R. Garrido)

    11.12.14 - 20:57

    Catalan Socialist leader would support an independence referendum if citizens reject Constitutional Reform

    Miquel Iceta, First Secretary of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), is currently rejecting a vote on independence and is proposing a broad Constitutional Reform to grant Catalonia a better fitting within a truly federal Spain. On Wednesday evening, Iceta exposed his proposals in a conference, emulating what the main pro-independence leaders – Artur Mas and Oriol Junqueras – had done one and two weeks ago. On Thursday, he was...

  • Neymar scored Barça's second goal against PSG (by FC Barcelona)

    11.12.14 - 01:35

    FC Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain (3-1): Messi, Neymar and Suárez fire Barça to top spot

    Barça’s trio of stellar strikers blew away PSG at the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening, coming back from an early Ibrahimovic goal with two first half strikes from Messi and Neymar – surely a candidate for goal of the season so far – and a third after the break from Luis Suárez. The three forwards fired the Catalan team to top spot in Group F of the UEFA Champions League. Juventus, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen,...

  • A golf course next to PortAventura and BCN World's plots of land (by J. Marsal)

    10.12.14 - 22:56

    BCN World's main investor does not buy land to build $6 billion resort by expected deadline

    Veremonte has decided not to buy the land to build the macro-casino and holiday resort yet and it will wait until it has a better knowledge of the town-planning project's details, which are currently being defined by the public authorities. The main company behind the holiday resort had an exclusivity right to purchase some 500 hectares of land from a Caixabank's subsidiary until December 10 at midnight for €380 million. Veremonte has...

  • The PSC's First Secretary, Miquel Iceta, addressing the audience during his conference (by R. Garrido)

    10.12.14 - 22:47

    Catalan Socialist leader insists on a Constitutional Reform as the "only" solution for the current political situation

    Miquel Iceta, First Secretary of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), proposed his road map for the coming two years: no early elections and broad Constitutional Reform to better fit Catalonia into a federal Spain. On Wednesday Iceta held his own conference after those of the Catalan President and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, and the left-wing independence party (ERC), Oriol Junqueras. While the two...

  • Junqueras (left) and Mas (right) on December 2 (by A. Moldes)

    10.12.14 - 21:44

    Heightened meetings of Catalan President and ERC leader towards running together in early elections

    Meetings between pro-independence politicians and civil society organisations are being held and will increase over the next few days, in order to explore the possibilities of forming a shared electoral list to run in early Catalan Parliament elections, which should be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence from Spain. However there are two main obstacles for this scenario. Firstly, the President of the Catalan Government...

  • Neymar and David Luiz at the last PSG vs Barça game (by FC Barcelona)

    10.12.14 - 17:02

    FC Barcelona v Paris Saint Germain: Capital encounter

    At 8.45 PM CET, all eyes will be on the Camp Nou as top place in Champions League Group F is settled. A huge night awaits us this Wednesday evening. Barça are at home to Paris Saint-Germain. In other words, Messi, Neymar, Suárez, Iniesta, Xavi and co are up against a similarly star-studded side featuring the likes of Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Lavezzi, Thiago Silva and David Luiz. A fascinating winner-takes-all match with top spot...

  • Vallter 2000 opened the season on Friday (by T. Tàpia)

    05.12.14 - 21:34

    Ski resorts open this weekend in Catalonia, but at "half gas" because of snow conditions

    Ski and snow lovers across Catalonia will be able to hit the slopes this weekend for the first time this season, but not all the doors to powder will be open, due to weather conditions. The unseasonably mild winter has meant that most ski resorts will be operating at "half gas" this weekend, with some important resorts such as Baqueria Beret choosing not to open at all. Others, such as Boí Taüll have said they will open on...

  • Oriol Junqueras (left) and Artur Mas (centre) on Tuesday (by A. Moldes)

    05.12.14 - 21:29

    Pro-independence parties keep arguing about running together or separately in early elections

    Early elections at the Catalan Parliament transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence is the only formula left to allow citizens to hold a self-determination vote. However, parties supporting self-determination, and particularly those supporting independence, do not share the same approach about how to ensure it will become a true plebiscite, nor on the exact steps that should follow if they were to win.  The...