• 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 Adif's network stopped completely between 6.30 am and 7.45 am, affecting some 200 trains and 80,000 people at the start of rush hour. Trains started to work again with more than a 1 hour delay and took the entire morning to gradually recover the accumulated delay, but parallel services have also been affected, such as the High-Speed network, where a train was stuck for 2 hours in a tunnel.  The Catalan Government considers the situation "unacceptable" and demands immediate investment, or it will request the transfer of the infrastructure.

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

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 first quarter of 2015 represent 25.7% of Spain’s total exports. Regarding Catalonia’s imports, they totalled €18.48 billion, a 4.4% increase. Catalonia’s trade deficit reached €2.82 billion, representing a 6.3% drop on figures from the previous quarter.

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

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 important trade fair for this industry in Spain – kicks off at a time of gradual recovery for this sector, according to the figures of the last few months. For Josep Miarnau, Chairman of the show, this year represents a turning point and the end of a cycle. Held in the Gran Via venue of Fira de Barcelona, the show is organised around 4 main thematic pillars: Innovation, Design, Renovation and Sustainability. Moreover, internationalisation will play an important role as well, with 145 projects from all over the world at the tendering stage.

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

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 emissions to below 2 metric tons during the same timeframe. The 12 founding signatories to the agreement span seven countries and three continents, with a total population of 100 million people and about $4.5 trillion in combined GDP. Apart from Catalonia, the signatories include: California, Vermont, Oregon and Washington (USA); Acre (Brazil); Baden-Württemberg (Germany); Baja California and Jalisco (Mexico); Ontario and British Columbia (Canada); and Wales (UK). More states, nations and cities are expected to join the agreement in the coming months.

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

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 Government pressure was the reason why the main opposition party, the Liberal Venstre, abstained despite last week announcing its support. The other group which abstained was the extreme-right Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti). The proposal is the answer the Danish Foreign Affairs Minister, Martin Lidegaard, from the Danish Social Liberal Party, gave to a question filed by an MP from the Red-Green Alliance, Nikolaj Villumsen.

  • 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."

  • 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.

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

    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, the Catalan Government also confirmed the organisation of a summit of Mediterranean regions to be held in July in Barcelona “to work together and see in which way the regions can give a more comprehensive answer” to the drama suffered by so many refugees crossing the sea on fragile boats. In Strasbourg, the Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, invited the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, as well as those of Sicily, Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur and Western Greece, Rosario Crocetta, Michel Vauzelle and Apostolos Katsifaras, and Lampedusa’s Mayor, Giusi Nicolini, to attend the summit.

Highlights

  • 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...

  • The Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz (by ACN)

    14.05.15 - 22:33

    Spanish Police to have warned alleged jihadists they were being watched by Catalan Police

    The Catalan Police force, called Mossos d'Esquadra, filed a complaint to the Audiencia Nacional court denouncing the Spanish Police for warning a group of alleged Islamic terrorists they were being watched by the Mossos. However, the Audiencia Nacional decided to close the case. According to the Mossos, such a warning provoked the group to immediately stop its activities for a few months. However, the alleged terrorists restarted their...

  • The current FC Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, when he testified before the judge in March (by X. Vallbona)

    13.05.15 - 23:31

    Current and former FC Barcelona presidents may go on trial for Neymar signing

    The judge at Madrid’s 'Audiencia Nacional', which is a court investigating and ruling on organised crime, terrorism and international fiscal offenses, announced on Wednesday the launching of an ‘oral trial’ against FC Barcelona itself, its current President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and his predecessor and friend, Sandro Rosell, over Neymar Jr's signing. In the end, neither Rosell's resignation in January 2014, nor the...

  • Barcelona's Nova Icaria beach this Wednesday (by P. Solà)

    13.05.15 - 21:04

    Pre-summer mode engaged for Barcelona’s beaches as temperatures rise, but few dare to swim

    On Wednesday morning, Barcelona’s beaches were well and truly in pre-summer mode, with hundreds of people sunbathing or playing in the sand, although few dared to swim as the water is still a bit cold. The temperature was almost 30 degrees (ºC), but some thin cloud cover and a sea breeze allowed people to enjoy and relax without suffering from the heat too much. Younger and older people, as well as families on holidays were the...

  • The Danish Parliament on Tuesday evening (by Diplocat / R. Ramirez / ACN)

    13.05.15 - 20:59

    Danish Parliament requests Spain and Catalonia to hold "peaceful and democratic dialogue"

    7 of the 8 groups sitting in the Parliament of Denmark have supported on Tuesday evening "a peaceful and democratic dialogue between Catalonia and the Spanish Government in Madrid" to solve the current political conflict. For 45 minutes, the Danish Chamber debated Catalonia's right to self-determination, after Nikolaj Villumsen, an MP from the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) registered a question about this issue addressed to the Foreign...

  • The celebration of Neymar's first goal against Bayern Munich (by FC Barcelona)

    13.05.15 - 01:56

    FC Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona: Berlin bound for the Champions League Final! (3-2)

    Two first half goals from Neymar are enough to ensure Barça reach the final in Berlin with a convincing 5-3 aggregate. Barça booked their place in the 2014/15 Champions League Final in Berlin, despite losing 3-2 on the night in Munich. A stunning first half when Neymar scored twice and Ter Stegen pulled off some breath-taking saves to virtually put the tie out of Bayern’s reach was followed by a more subdued 45 minutes...

  • The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, in charge of the Catalan Government's External Relations (by P. Mateos)

    13.05.15 - 01:39

    Catalan Government to open new delegations abroad in the coming weeks

    The Catalan Government has approved its 'Strategic Plan for the External Action 2015-2018', which foresees the opening of additional delegations abroad. The Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, who is in charge of External Relations, announced that some of these delegations may be opened in the coming weeks. Homs admitted that the Spanish Government may appeal against the new delegations and...