• The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, this week at the Spanish Parliament (by La Moncloa / ACN)

    Catalonia’s majority is ready to carry on with alternative vote despite Rajoy being ready to appeal it

    On Thursday, the Spanish Government’s main advisory body – the State Council – has issued a non-binding report upon the request of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy against the alternative consultation vote that the Catalan Executive is organising for November 9. This body has unanimously recommended taking Catalonia’s participatory process to the Constitutional Court and requesting its suspension. Now, Rajoy has the green light to make such a step on Friday, only 9 days before the vote is supposed to happen. Meanwhile in Catalonia, all the parties supporting the self-determination process are insisting on continuing to work for high citizen participation on the 9th of November. Furthermore, on Wednesday evening, they started campaigning and the Catalan Government launched the website to inform citizens about their exact voting place. Besides, those against independence in Catalonia are divided between those asking Rajoy to be smart and not to appeal, and those asking him to stop the vote.

Junqueras (left), Mas (centre, first row) and Iceta (standing up) on Wednesday at the Catalan Parliament (by R. Garrido)

Catalan Government to bring 2015 budget proposal to Parliament hoping for last minute support from ERC or PSC

While the alternative consultation vote on independence scheduled on the 9th of November approaches, the Catalan Government has additional priorities on its plate, starting with the approval of its budget for 2015. However, right now the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU does not have enough parliamentary support to approve it. Its parliamentary ally, the left-wing independence party ERC, is reluctant to back the new budget after the Catalan Government cancelled the original consultation vote. The ERC wants to start preparing the first budget of an independent state and on Tuesday it offered to extend the 2014 budget. However, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, announced on Wednesday he will bring the budget proposal to the Parliament anyway. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) offered itself as an ally, but Mas asked them to back the alternative consultation vote. The PSC replied that if the question is changed, "we can talk about everything".

The Catalan Government's Spokesperson and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, on Tuesday (by P. Mateos)

Catalan Government is confident there will be ballot boxes on November 9 despite Rajoy's appeal

The Spanish Government, chaired by Mariano Rajoy, has activated the machinery to suspend the alternative non-binding participatory process that the Catalan Executive is organising on the 9th of November, which replaces the original consultation vote. On Monday evening, Rajoy asked the State Council – his main advisory body – for a non-binding report on the Catalonia's new vote; it did so on the same day that a broad network of corruption, mainly involving Rajoy's People's Party (PP), was revealed. On Tuesday, the Catalan Government replied that its will is to put out ballot boxes, since it does not believe the Constitutional Court will suspend such a participatory process. Left-wing parties backing a self-determination consultation asked the Catalan Government to keep the vote no matter what. Now that the unity of action among pro-self-determination forces has been restored, the PP is calling the vote a "referendum", after downplaying it for two weeks.

The President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls (left), presenting the economic forecast for 2014 and 2015 (by J. R. Torné)

Economic growth forecast for Catalonia: 1.6% in 2014 and 2.1% in 2015

Figures released by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce on Monday showed that the economy of Catalonia is set to grow by 1.6% in 2014 and 2.1% in 2015. The Chamber also predicted that by 2015, there will be a 2% rise in Spain’s GDP and 1.4% in that of the Eurozone countries average. According to the President of the Chamber, Miquel Valls, the recovery of Catalan and Spanish economies is "solid", but he stressed that the "austerity in wages" must be maintained. This report comes after the success of all Catalan banks passing the stress tests issued by the European Banking Authority and the European Central Bank, which 25 banks across Europe failed. Related economic news is that the unemployment figures released for third quarter of 2014 set Catalonia’s rate at 19.1% and Spain’s at 23.67%.

Luis Suárez might play against RCD Espanyol in Girona (by FC Barcelona)

FC Barcelona vs RCD Espanyol: Derby night in Catalonia's Super Cup

FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol meet in the first ever edition of the Catalan Super Cup (9.30pm CET) in the Estadi Montilivi in Girona (north-eastern Catalonia). The tournament has been created as a complement to the Copa Catalunya and features Catalonia’s two top flight clubs, while lower division teams will continue to battle for the former trophy (along with the Barça and Espanyol reserve teams). The meeting between the two biggest clubs in Catalonia comes after neither side managed to collect three points at the weekend in the Spanish League. Barça were beaten 3-1 in the Clasico with Real Madrid, while Espanyol played out a dull 0-0 draw at home to Deportivo. Thirteen first team players have been included in the Barça squad, including Suárez and Adriano.

  • Jordi Savall in a recent concert (by R. Segura)

    Jordi Savall rejects the Spanish Government’s National Music Prize for its cultural policies

    The internationally-recognised Early Music expert, Catalan Jordi Savall, rejected on Thursday Spain’s National Music Prize, which is awarded by the Spanish Government each year. Savall has not accepted the Prize, which was announced on Wednesday and comes with €30,000, because he wants to show his rejection of the Spanish Government’s cultural policies, particularly that towards musicians. Savall is probably the world’s top interpreter of viola da gamba and the main expert in Early and Renaissance music. In 2012 he received the Leonie Sonning Music Foundation Prize, considered to be the ‘Nobel Prize of Music’. In a letter addressed to the Spanish Culture Minister, José Ignacio Wert, Savall blames the Spanish Government for “the dramatic lack of interest and the great incompetence in defending and promoting arts and its creators”. Furthermore he “deplores the Spanish Government’s downplaying policy towards the vast majority of musicians”. Besides, Savall has been publicly advocating for Catalonia’s right to self-determination in the last few months.

  • Potential buyers meeting with real estate companies at the 2014 Barcelona Meeting Point (by J. Molina)

    Barcelona Meeting Point 2014 prepares for a ''mass influx'' of international funds ''ready to buy''

    The 18th Edition of the Barcelona Meeting Point will take place between 29 October and 2 November in Fira de Barcelona's Montjuic venue. The trade fair is a real estate exhibition that brings together buyers and sellers to network and learn about the latest industry trends. This year there will be 265 participating companies from 23 countries. According to the show’s President, Enric Lacalle, it will be the first edition to open in a recovering housing sector, after 6 years of crisis and setbacks. The real estate market is strengthening; there was a 36.6% increase in the acquisition of houses by foreigners in 2013 and a 12.5% rise in housing sales throughout Spain. In addition, real estate investment in Barcelona is expected to exceed €1.6 billion in 2014, 30% more than last year. In fact, 21 international investment funds will participate in the trade fair. The show will also include a series of talks and presentations, and offer financing options for property purchase.

  • Barça won the first edition of Catalonia's Super Cup (by FC Barcelona)

    FC Barcelona win Catalan Super Cup against RCD Espanyol (1-1, 4-2 on pens)

    FC Barcelona won the first ever edition of the Catalan Super Cup at the Estadi Montilivi in Girona this Wednesday evening after the game with RCD Espanyol ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. Luis Enrique’s side dominated from start to finish but were unable to add to a Gerard Piqué header after 15 minutes. Espanyol pulled back through Arbilla shortly after the break, and with no further scoring the game went to penalties. The shootout went Barça’s way, as it also had against the same side in the last two finals of the Copa Catalunya.

Highlights

  • From left to right: Macherano, Neymar, Messi and Iniesta (by FC Barcelona)

    28.10.14 - 15:58

    Messi, Neymar, Iniesta and Mascherano candidates for FIFA Ballon d'Or 2014

    Four Barça players have been shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2014. They are Leo Messi, Neymar Jr, Andrés Iniesta and Javier Mascherano. FIFA and France Football magazine announced on Tuesday morning those players nominated for the award, which is given to the best player of the calendar year. The final decision will be taken by the coaches and captains from every single national team around the world as well as by...

  • The Barcelona Supercomputing Centre's Mare Nostrum computer (by ACN)

    27.10.14 - 19:55

    Genetic alterations in cancer patients, identified by new computational method developed in Barcelona

    A new computational method allows the detection, within just a few hours, of the genetic alterations responsible for the formation and progression of cancer tumours. This new method manages to accurately identify almost all types of genetic changes of cancer cells in a simple, quick and precise way. It is also able to identify large-scale chromosome rearrangements, which had been difficult to be detect until this breakthrough. The new...

  • CaixaBank, based in the Catalan capital, posted a 9.3% ratio in the worst-case scenario and leads Spain's banking market (by ACN)

    27.10.14 - 19:37

    All Catalan banks pass European Banking Authority stress test with a wide margin

    The Catalan banking system boasts a strong image after the publication on Sunday of the 2014 EU-wide stress test results, issued by the European Banking Authority (EBA). All the financial entities based in Catalonia have sailed through the EBA stress test, showing they could face the most adverse economic developments with only their own resources. In the most difficult scenario, Barcelona-based CaixaBank – which is the largest bank...

  • Messi, Neymar and Suárez played together for the first time (by FC Barcelona)

    26.10.14 - 10:58

    Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona: Barça's defeat in the Clasico (3-1)

    Barça fall as Madrid turn game round following an early Neymar score. Despite a dream start, when Neymar swept home an early opener, Barça went down 3-1 in Madrid on Saturday’s first Clasico of the season in a game in which Luis Suarez made his official debut and Claudio Bravo finally conceded. The game could hardly have started better for Barça, when after just 3 minutes, Luís Suárez sent a cross...

  • The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, addressing the press in Brussels on Friday (by A. Casino)

    24.10.14 - 20:11

    Spanish Government is considering appealing against Catalonia's alternative vote on November 9

    The Spanish Government announced on Friday that it has asked its legal services to analyse all the aspects of Catalonia's alternative vote of the 9th of November, which is replacing the original consultation vote that has already been banned by the Spanish authorities. 16 days before the consultation vote has to take place and 10 days after it was announced by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, the Spanish...

  • Luis Enrique after his press conference before the Real Madrid vs Barça game (by FC Barcelona)

    24.10.14 - 20:05

    Luis Enrique: “Clasicos should be heated, fun and entertaining”

    Great expectation in the press room at the Ciutat Esportiva just 24 hours before the Clasico in the Santiago Bernabéu. In the traditional pre-game press conference ahead of Madrid-Barça,Luis Enrique revealed his thoughts before his first Clásico as a coach. He revealed that Luis Suárez will appear at some point and Sergio Busquets is fit to take part. Furthermore he is clear about what he wants from his players:...

  • Aircrafts from Ryanair in the Girona Costa Brava Airport (by ACN)

    24.10.14 - 20:02

    Flights from Barcelona El Prat increase by 6.8% for winter season, while Girona shrinks by 20%

    The Spanish Airport Authority (AENA) has announced that this coming winter season over 8.4 million seats will be on offer on flights out of Barcelona El Prat Airport, an increase of 6.8% compared to last year. Seats on intercontinental destinations have increased by 13.6% over last year. The number of flight operations (take-offs and landings) is anticipated to be 47,000: an increase of 4.1% to 2013. In contrast, the airport of Girona Costa...

  • This Friday's meeting of the National Alliance for Self-Determination (by M. Sierra)

    24.10.14 - 19:59

    National Alliance for Self-Determination to work on making alternative consultation vote on November 9's a success

    Catalonia's National Alliance for Self-Determination, which brings together more than 3,000 civil society, business, cultural, sports and political organisations, pledged to make sure that the alternative participatory process scheduled on the 9th of November will be a success, in terms of voter turnout and of other "great mobilisations". Despite the acknowledged limitations of this alternative vote that replaces the original...

  • A worker in a factory located in Lleida Province (by O. Bosch)

    23.10.14 - 22:11

    Third quarter unemployment figures set Catalonia's rate at 19.10% and Spain's at 23.67%

    Spain's unemployment rate at the end of the third quarter stands at 23.67%, according to the latest Active Population Survey (EPA). The unemployment rate for Catalonia has fallen below 20% for the first time in the last 3 years and is set at 19.10%. The number of unemployed people in Catalonia has dropped by 44,400 in the third quarter of 2014, a decrease of 5.76% compared to the previous quarter. This is the biggest reduction since at...

  • The Catalan Government had approved a measure to protect families in need from their household electricity and gas supply being cut off (by ACN)

    23.10.14 - 21:41

    Spanish Government bans Catalan decree that was to help families in need keep energy supply in winter

    The Constitutional Court has accepted the Spanish Government's appeal against the Catalan Executive' decree from December 2013 with which families in need are protected from their household electricity and gas being cut off by energy supply companies during winter months. The Catalan Government's measure aimed to fight the so-called 'energy poverty': people who cannot afford to pay for their energy bills because they do not get minimum...

  • Luís Suárez, the day he was allowed to go back on training (by FC Barcelona)

    23.10.14 - 21:20

    Luis Suárez ready to make his FC Barcelona official debut at the clasico against Real Madrid

    The Uruguayan is ready to make his official Barça debut as his FIFA ban comes to an end and could do so on Saturday in the Spanish League game against Real Madrid. Luis Suárez played in the Joan Gamper Trophy and the Barça B friendly against an Indonesia Under 19 team and last week picked up his Golden Boot award for the 2013/14 season. Hopefully Suárez' FC Barcelona debut will post the same results as he managed...

  • Officers from the Public Prosecution quit Oleguer Pujol's home in Barcelona while it is being searched by the Spanish Police (by ACN)

    23.10.14 - 20:50

    Judicial investigations heat up against Pujol family's alleged fiscal offenses and influence peddling

    On Thursday, Oleguer Pujol, the youngest son of the former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol Soley, was formally indicted for alleged fiscal fraud and money laundering. The Spanish Police and the Public Prosecutor searched his house and several of his companies looking for files regarding real estate operations. This makes Oleguer the third son of the historical leader of conservative Catalan nationalism to be indicted for fiscal offenses....

  • The ERC's leader, Oriol Junqueras, after meeting with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas (by T. Cuartiella)

    22.10.14 - 22:28

    Decision on early elections is postponed until after November 9's consultation to guarantee its success

    The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State CiU, Artur Mas, and the President of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, met on Wednesday, after days of tensions among the parties supporting self-determination. The tensions have been mainly about how to raise the legal profile of the alternative participatory process scheduled on the 9th of November, which...

  • Copies of 'Confessions' in a UK book shop (by L. Pous)

    22.10.14 - 21:12

    Jaume Cabré’s novel 'Confessions' hits English bookstores

    Catalan author Jaume Cabré’s latest novel 'Jo confesso' has been translated into English and is finally hitting bookstores in the Anglophone world for the first time since its original publication in 2011. It was translated by Mara Faye Letham and published by Arcadia books. The novel, which this year won the Courrier International Prize for 'Best foreign novel', as well as several Catalan literature awards, has already been...

  • The Catalan Government presenting further details of November 9's alternative consultation vote (by ACN)

    22.10.14 - 20:53

    99.9% of Catalans will be able to participate near their home in the alternative vote on November 9

    938 of the 947 existing municipalities in Catalonia will host polling stations for the alternative consultation vote on independence scheduled for the 9th of November, which replaces the original non-binding referendum. According to the Catalan Government, this represents 99.9% of Catalans being able to vote in their own neighbourhood, town or village, without having to go to a nearby municipality. The Catalan Government will be...

  • Barça scored the first two goals in the first half of the game (by FC Barcelona)

    22.10.14 - 11:30

    FC Barcelona vs Ajax: Barça take command early (3-1)

    First half scores from Barça’s lethal one-two punch of Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr gave the home side everything they would need, as a near total dominance of the ball kept Ajax safely at bay. In a match featuring a pair of sides with long, intertwined histories and similar playing styles, it was FC Barcelona who showed they were master of their domain. Despite a common past, this was just the third meeting ever between the...