• New attack on Catalan school model by Spanish Government: an appeal against next year’s enrolment

    The Spanish Ministry of Education has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Catalonia (TSJC) to cancel the already-sent enrolment applications for the next school year in order to include the option of choosing Spanish as the language of tuition. Five parties representing 80% of the Catalan Parliament have strongly protested against this "new attack" on a school model that guarantees that pupils master both Spanish and Catalan and has many flexibility measures for newcomers. The model is also backed by an extremely broad majority of Catalan society and only a few dozen families, out of the 1.55 million pupils in Catalonia, had requested education in Spanish. Linguistic immersion in Catalan ensures knowledge of the language by children who are not regularly exposed to it, while the model also ensures knowledge of Spanish. Therefore, equal opportunities and complete bilingualism are ensured. However, the model has been the target of Spanish nationalists for a long time.

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

Catalan registered unemployment drops by 3.27% in April; largest decline in Spain and for 19 years

Official data released on Tuesday by the Spanish Employment Ministry show that both Catalonia and Spain as a whole registered the largest monthly decline in unemployment for a month of April since 1996. In particular, Catalonia closed last month with 552,974 people registered on the Catalan Public Employment Service's list, which means 18,681 fewer jobseekers in comparison with March 2015, a 3.27% drop. In annual terms, registered unemployment in Catalonia fell by 9.62% (58,848 fewer people), which is the highest percentage decline since May 2000. These figures mean that registered unemployment in Catalonia has fallen for 22 consecutive months. In Spain as a whole, at the end of April 2015 the number of people registered as unemployed stood at 4,333,016, which means 118,923 fewer jobseekers than in March, representing a 2.67%. In annual terms, registered unemployment in Spain dropped by 7.5%, as 351,285 fewer people were registered as looking for a job.

Manel Jadraque is no longer Desigual's CEO (by ACN)

Fashion retailer Desigual replaces its CEO Manel Jadraque with President Thomas Meyer

The Barcelona-based fashion company Desigual announced in a press release on Monday that Manel Jadraque is no longer the firm’s CEO, following a "mutual agreement" between the Catalan multinational and the executive. Jadraque was both the company's Chief Executive Officer and its Director General. His executive functions will be assumed by Thomas Meyer, Desigual's President and founder. According to the company, "the current challenges facing the brand encouraged this decision". Jadraque had worked for the Catalan brand for more than ten years. He will remain a member of the Board of Directors, the company has stated. Desigual’s turnover in 2014 improved by 16.2% on its 2013 results, reaching €963.5 million.

Carina Mejías, the Ciudadanos' candidate for Barcelona Mayor, on Monday(byR. Garrido)

Anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans to try to ban massive pro-independence rally in Barcelona

Ciutadans (C’s), the anti-Catalan nationalism party that could become Spain’s third-largest party according to many polls, stated on Monday that they will do everything in their power to stop the next massive pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona from happening. Since 2012, every 11th of September (which is Catalonia’s National Day), the main pro-independence civil society associations have organised a massive rally, such as the 400 km-long human chain spanning Catalonia from north to south in 2013 and the V-shaped demonstration occupying more than 11 km of Barcelona’s two main avenues in 2014. More than 1.5 million people participated in each of the demonstrations, which have always been peaceful and cheerful, claiming Catalonia’s right to self-determination. This year, another massive demonstration is planned, which is to occupy all of Meridiana Avenue, symbolically going from the Catalan Parliament to outside the city.

Messi at the Champions League's semi-final that Barça and Bayern played in 2013 (by FC Barcelona)

Messi pumped up for Bayern clash

Leo Messi spoke to a packed press room this Tuesday morning ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Bayern and explained: “I’m really motivated by this game, for what it means and because we face a great team”. The Argentinean was cautious in his press conference, but admitted: "we are feeling good about things", at this key point in the campaign. Bayern is a team managed by Pep Guardiola of course, which gives an added edge, as does the memory of defeat to the Germans at this same stage two seasons ago, but Messi insisted: “it’s been a while since that game now and we are coming into it in a different situation  - this will be a different tie. There can’t be a favourite at this stage of the competition, we are both two big teams. There’s pressure, but we are both obliged to win”.

  • Leo Messi celebrates one of his two goals against Bayern Munich at the Champions League's semi-finals (by FC Barcelona)

    FC Barcelona vs FC Bayern Munich: Messi magic downs Bayern (3-0)

    The Germans held out for 77 minutes, then two goals from Messi and one from Neymar secured a spectacular 3-0 win. It was proving to be a frustrating evening for FC Barcelona, with chance after chance going begging against Pep Guardiola’s well organised defence. But the last quarter of an hour produced a dramatic turn of events. Two fantastic goals from Messi suddenly put the Catalans in command, and a third in injury time from Neymar practically puts Barça on the flight to Berlin. There’s still the Allianz Arena to come next week, but with a 3-0 lead to defend, Barça are very much in pole position!

  • David Cameron, incumbent Prime Minister and Tory leader (by Downing Street / ACN)

    Low turnout expected for British nationals in Spain for UK general elections 2015

    Spain is home to around 300,000 registered British nationals, 20,000 of whom reside in Catalonia and retain the right to vote in the forthcoming general elections in the UK on the 7th of May, according to date from the Spanish Statistics Institute given in 2014. The election this year is especially important as polls suggest that no combination of parties will win a stable majority which could be the end of the road for a strong government. Moreover, the election is more important than usual for British nationals living in Spain as in the rest of Europe as Cameron has promised that a Conservative victory will renegotiate Britain’s relations with the EU and put the result to an in/out referendum on membership by the end of 2017. A British exit from Europe could potentially lead to British nationals abroad facing several difficulties in regards to freedom of movement across Europe. On the other hand, May 7th could also mark the point of no return for the troubled union between England and Scotland, due to a surge in support for the secessionist Scottish National Party (SNP).

  • Catalan healthcare is receiving some of the lowest spending per capita in Spain (by Departament de Salut / ACN)

    BBVA studies question Spain's inter-territorial fiscal scheme, which funds the regional governments

    The Autonomous Community governments, such as the Catalan Executive, cannot meet the deficit objectives imposed by the Spanish Government because of the current inter-territorial fiscal scheme, according to a report from the Spanish banking giant BBVA. The bank has published two studies on two consecutive days that shed some light on this scheme and its consequences. In the first report, the BBVA states that spending per capita on basic Welfare State services, such as healthcare and education, varies by 60% among the Autonomous Communities. A second report highlights that the Spanish Executive reduced the funds for the Autonomous Community governments in 2014, despite the economic situation and the intake of public revenue improving. On top of this, it refuses to review a fiscal scheme that legally expired 16 months ago and that was designed before the financial crisis.

Highlights

  • Luís Suárez scored 3 goals against Córdoba (by FC Barcelona)

    03.05.15 - 17:45

    Córdoba vs FC Barcelona: Barça thrive in Andalusian heat 0–8

    Luis Suárez's hat trick leads the onslaught as Barça overcome arid conditions to win big in the south of Spain. Lionel Messi adds a brace, while Ivan Raktic, Gerard Piqué, and Neymar chip in one apiece. The victory keeps FC Barcelona two points clear at the top of the league table — with just three games remaining — after Real Madrid kept pace with a 3–2 win at Sevilla on Saturday night. It was no...

  • The Director of Spain'sPublic Prosecution Office, Consuelo Madrigal (by ACN)

    01.05.15 - 09:36

    Spain's main prosecutor to fight self-determination as Enlightenment fought "evils" of "obscurantism, fanaticism and tyranny"

    "We have to fight the same evils as the Enlightenment: obscurantism, fanaticism and tyranny", stated Consuelo Madrigal, the Director of Spain's Public Prosecution office – directly appointed by the Spanish Government – when  referring to Catalonia's self-determination process on Thursday in Madrid. Madrigal also added that the Spanish institutions and "the rule of law" have also to fight against the "deviations and errors"...

  • The President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, on Thursday (by ACN)

    30.04.15 - 21:14

    Better economic growth, 2.7% in 2015 and 3% in 2016, predicts Catalan Chamber of Commerce

    Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce has predicted that the Catalan economy will grow by 2.7% in 2015 and 3% in 2016. The latest estimates made by the Chamber in February foresaw a growth of 2.5% in the Catalan GDP for this year. The President of the Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, said that this growth "has a lot to do with the surprising recovery of domestic demand, driven by job creation, and increased confidence in the economy." Valls...

  • A class tought at the UB's Philosophy Faculty (by E. Rosanas)

    30.04.15 - 20:58

    3 Catalan universities and 3 colleges among world's best, according to QS and Times rankings

    The 2015 QS World University Rankings by Subject has ranked Barcelona’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) 22nd in the world in the field of Architecture and 35th in Civil and Structural Engineering. According to the same prestigious ranking, the University of Barcelona (UB) performs well too, ranking as one of the top 50 globally in Philosophy and among the top 200 in 27 of the 36 subject areas....

  • The presentation of this year's DocsBarcelona Festival (by P. Francesch)

    30.04.15 - 20:44

    International documentary film festival DocsBarcelona to feature 42 films from 26 countries

    The 18th edition of the international documentary film festival DocsBarcelona will open its doors on 25 May. This year, 42 films from 26 countries will be screened in 3 different locations: the Aribau Cinema Club, the CCCB (Barcelona's Contemporary Culture Centre) and La Pedrera's cultural centre, located in Antoni Gaudí's famous building. Through the rich selection of this edition's programme, a wide range of human and...

  • The drug prescription fee was in place between June 2012 and January 2013 (by E. Rosanas)

    29.04.15 - 22:09

    Catalan Government starts refunding drug prescription fee after Constitutional Court ban

    The fee that was temporarily charged on each drug prescription in Catalonia between June 2012 and January 2013 has started to be refunded by the Catalan Government, after the Constitutional Court definitively banned it in May 2014. The decision came after an appeal from the Spanish Government, despite the People Party (PP) initially having supported the measure in spring 2012. However, after the Catalan Government started to back...

  • A branch of CatalunyaCaixa (by ACN)

    29.04.15 - 21:09

    BBVA to close 285 branches and lay off 1,700 staff in Catalonia, after Catalunya Banc acquisition

    BBVA CEO, Angel Cano, announced on Wednesday a 3-year plan to restructure the bank's presence in Catalonia after the integration of the previously nationally-owned Catalunya Banc, which was purchased last July. The bank's 'number 2' explained they will shut down 285 branches of their network in Catalonia and lay off 1,700 employees, which is 20% of the local workforce including Catalunya Banc's staff. At the end of 2014, BBVA had 639...

  • Xavi, Rafinha and Luís Suárez (by FC Barcelona)

    28.04.15 - 23:00

    FC Barcelona vs Getafe CF: Six appeal (6-0)

    Five goals in the first half and one more in the second send Barça storming to a spectacular victory against Getafe in a magical night at the Camp Nou. The evening had conjured up six absolutely stunning goals and a performance, especially in the first half, that was close to perfection. Messi (2), Suárez (2), Neymar and Xavi all found the target. Then win leaves Barça five points clear at the top of the table, pending...

  • A flat for sale in the Lleida Province (by ACN)

    28.04.15 - 21:46

    Number of mortgages increases 32% in Catalonia in February, accumulating 10 consecutive months of growth

    The number of mortgages on homes in Catalonia registered a 32.4% increase in February compared to the same figure from February 2014. This annual increase strengthens an uninterrupted trend of 10 consecutive months of annual growth. This figure is particularly important taking into account that the crash of the construction and real estate sectors, as well as the lack of bank loans, were some of the main elements of the double economic...

  • A self-portrait by Gabriel Casas (by Gabriel Casas / ACN)

    28.04.15 - 21:08

    Interwar photography from the experimental Gabriel Casas on show in National Art Museum of Catalonia

    From Wednesday 29th of April onwards, the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) will exhibit 'Gabriel Casas: Photography, journalism and modernity, 1929-1939', the first great monographic exhibition dedicated to one of the most important photographers of the interwar period. Standing out as the photographer who introduced 'New Vision' photography in Spain, Casas achieved "great maturity" in the decade...

  • Luís Suárez a few days ago at the Camp Nou (by FC Barcelona)

    28.04.15 - 18:45

    FC Barcelona vs Getafe: Barça cannot afford any slip ups

    Barça’s 2-0 win at the weekend in the Catalan derby against Espanyol kept them two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish League table with just five games in the league season remaining. The first of that quintet of title deciders comes on Tuesday against Getafe at Camp Nou, a game that kicks off at 8.00pm CET. The blaugranes cannot afford any slip ups with Carlo Ancelotti’s side breathing down...

  • The Montserrat Basilica, located next to the monastery (by M. Martí)

    27.04.15 - 23:05

    The feast of Our Lady of Montserrat: A Catholic celebration with a Catalan nationalist twist

    The 27th of April is the feast day of the Mare de Déu deMontserrat,Our Lady of Montserrat, or as she is more affectionately called in Catalonia, la Moreneta, "the little dark-skinned one". One of the only black images of the Virgin Mary in Europe, the Virgin of Montserrat is the patron saint of all dioceses in Catalonia and together with St. George (Sant Jordi) is considered the patron saint of the...

  • The state funeral at the Sagrada Família Basilica (by EFE Pool)

    27.04.15 - 22:06

    Sagrada Família hosts state funeral for Alps air tragedy, where 53 Catalan residents died

    A memorial ceremony for the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane, 53 of whom were living in Catalonia, has taken place on Monday evening at Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica, the world famous church designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. In the end, the ceremony also included a few words from representatives of the Protestant, Jewish and Muslim communities, after the controversy surrounding the Archbishop of...

  • La Masella ski resort, in the Catalan Pyrenees (by La Masella)

    27.04.15 - 22:04

    Record foreign tourist spending in Catalonia in first quarter of 2015; 12.6% increase

    Foreign tourists spent a record €2.289 billion in Catalonia in the first quarter of 2015, 12.6% more than in the same period last year, according to the Tourist Expenditure Survey (EGATUR) of the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. This figure surpasses the previous records set in the first quarters of 2014 and 2013, official results published on Monday reveal. This year, the average amount spent per stay in Catalonia...

  • The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, on Monday morning in Madrid (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    27.04.15 - 21:47

    Rajoy does not rule out holding Spanish elections on same day as Catalan vote

    The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has not ruled out the possibility of holding the Spanish General Elections – which should normally be held in late November or early December – at the same time as the Catalan Elections, which are to take place on 27 September. The Catalan Elections are to be transformed into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence and have been called a year early, as the only option left in order to...

  • The French Alps mountain, where the Germanwings aircraft crashed (by G. Sánchez)

    27.04.15 - 16:16

    King to attend state funeral for Germanwings victims at Sagrada Família on Monday evening

    A state funeral for the victims of the Germanwings plane that was intentionally crashed in the French Alps in March is to be held this Monday evening at 6pm (CET) at Barcelona's Sagrada Família basilica. The flight was going from Barcelona to Düsseldorf and, out of the 150 casualties, 53 were living in Catalonia. The ceremony follows the state funeral that took place in Cologne's Cathedral 10 days ago. The King of Spain, Felipe...