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

    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 Executive is starting to pave the way for appealing against this new participatory process that asks Catalans their opinion about independence from Spain. On Friday, the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, stated that Mas is pretending to replace "an illegal process for one that is even more antidemocratic". Therefore, it seems that after a few days hesitating whether or not to ban the new vote, the Spanish Government will probably appeal against it and make the Constitutional Court temporarily suspend it. In the last few days, Catalan political parties and civil society organisations have rebuilt their unity of action, which seemed broken during the time the Spanish Government was hesitating.

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

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 least 2002, when the Spain's Statistical Institute began the series. Thanks to the creation of 69,100 new jobs in Catalonia over the last 12 months, there are now 34,800 more people employed in the third quarter. This makes Catalonia have the second highest unemployment drop in Spain, second only to Madrid Region (-48,200 people). The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, has called the figures are "encouraging" and "hopeful", although a 19.1% rate is still "very high".

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

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. Furthermore, on Wednesday another judge indicted 11 people related to the former President's oldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola – who seems to be at the centre of almost all the investigations. In addition, the judge has requested the freezing of his bank accounts in Andorra, from which he transferred €2.4 million to Mexico just after his father's fiscal fraud confession in July. On top of this, a judge from Liechtenstein is investigating the former Catalan President for alleged money laundering, after requests from the Spanish Police. Jordi Pujol senior has denied having had any bank account in the Alpine country.

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

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 income. The decree was not a cancellation of the bills but to allow those families to postpone the payment during the winter months. However, the Spanish Executive considered that the Catalan measure represented a "discrimination" against the citizens from other Autonomous Communities, who have to pay their energy bills on time. The appeal goes against Catalonia's political autonomy and is arbitrary. The Catalan Government stated it was "upset" by the ban and added that it will find an alternative way to help those families.

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

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 on his debut for Liverpool, when he scored after just 11 minutes on the pitch, Ajax – a goal after 42 minutes and Groningen where he scored after 36 minutes.

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

    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 consultation vote scheduled on the same day, the National Alliance has agreed to focus its collective efforts on this day's success, also backing "other forms of mobilisation that will strengthen citizen participation" in the self-determination process. Furthermore, the Alliance Coordinator, the veteran Christian-Democrat politician Joan Rigol, stressed that political parties will also focus on this day and will increase "coordination" to overcome recent tensions among them. The National Alliance will meet again after November 9 to discuss the next steps.

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

    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 Brava (northern Catalonia) has announced it will offer 16 routes this winter season, 20% less than last year. Ryanair has implemented the cuts it announced last May and will no longer be connecting Girona to London or Paris. Ryanair and Wizz Air will be the only airlines flying from Girona to Kiev, and only Ten Airwais will operate charter flights to Nador, Morocco. This summer, Girona airport connected passengers to 69 destinations.

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

    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: “We will go out there with the same footballing ideas and the same attitude as always. That, according to the coach, is “going after the from the start, without sitting back, having the ball and deserving the victory”.

Highlights

  • 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...

  • Moody's headquarters (by Reuters)

    21.10.14 - 19:43

    Moody’s foresees a common pro-independence platform in early elections to be positive for Catalonia

    The international rating agency Moody’s analyses the current political situation in Catalonia regarding the alternative consultation vote scheduled for the 9th of November and the potential early elections. Moody’s considers that early Catalan Parliament elections are the most likely scenario, emphasising the Catalan Government’s commitment to respect the legal framework. In addition, it also considers “a...

  • Abadal's dry stone hut in which the grapes are fermented (by E. Escolà)

    21.10.14 - 17:25

    Catalan vineyard first in Europe to produce wine in a dry stone vat reviving an old method

    Abadal wine cellar, in Pla de Bages appelation in central Catalonia, is the first in Europe to begin fermenting their grapes in big vats of dry Stone located outdoors, in the midst of the vineyards. The method is at once innovative and traditional, as it is the revival of an old tradition common in Europe during the 19th century. This Monday, experts in the making of wine tasted the results of the first vintage, of which there...

  • Barça face a crucial game on Tuesday evening against Ajax (by FC Barcelona)

    21.10.14 - 14:28

    FC Barcelona vs AFC Ajax: Three vital points to stay in contention for top spot

    It’s no final, but Tuesday night’s game with Ajax is still of crucial importance for FC Barcelona following the 3-2 defeat in Paris a fortnight ago. Barça need three points at the Camp Nou to stay in contention for top spot in Group F of the Champions League. And there is the dangerous distraction of the visit to the Santiago Bernabéu for Saturday’s Liga match against Real Madrid, although Luis Enrique...

  • The entrance of a high-school in Banyoles, in Catalonia (by L. Casademont)

    20.10.14 - 21:34

    High-schools will host ballot boxes on November 9 and 26,000 volunteers have already signed up

    The Catalan Government is disclosing further organisation details of the alternative participatory process that will take place on the 9th of November, which is replacing the original consultation vote that was banned by Spanish authorities. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, announced that 26,372 volunteers had already signed up on Monday afternoon to help in the organisation of the 9th of...

  • Marta Rovira and Oriol Junqueras, from the ERC, together with Joan Mena (right), from the ICV-EUiA (by A. Moldes)

    20.10.14 - 20:50

    Main left-wing parties supporting previous consultation vote meet and ask for early elections

    After the civil society demonstration that took place on Sunday asking for the rebuilding of the unity of action and calling early elections, there has been some confusion regarding the Catalan Government's announcement of a "pre-agreement" on "a technical" unity for the alternative participatory process on the 9th of November. In the morning the Catalan Government's Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, announced such a pre-agreement...

  • An image from Sunday's demonstration in Barcelona's Catalunya Square (by N. Julià)

    20.10.14 - 17:11

    Pro-independence civil society organisations back November's alternative consultation but demand early elections

    The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, which are the civil society associations that organised the massive pro-independence demonstrations in 2012, 2013 and 2014, have given their support to the alternative consultation vote proposed by the Catalan Government but on the condition of early elections taking place within the next three months. On Sunday, the ANC and Òmnium gathered 110,000 people (according to...

  • Neymar, Xavi and Messi scored Barça's 3 goals against Eibar (by FC Barcelona)

    19.10.14 - 13:12

    FC Barcelona v SD Eibar (3-0): Second half firepower sees off Eibar

    Barça saw off a brave Eibar at the Camp Nou, with second half goals from Xavi, Neymar and Messi to confirm their top spot in the Spanish League and give the fans plenty of optimism a week before the trip to the Bernabeu to play against Real Madrid. With Ratikic and Busquets in the stands, Luis Enrique pushed Macherano into midfield alongside Xavi and Sergio Roberto, making his first league start, with Mathieu partnering Piqué...

  • Barça's Manager, Luís Enrique, in the press conference held before the Spanish League game against Eibar (by FC Barcelona)

    17.10.14 - 20:29

    Luis Enrique: Barça won't sit back in the game against Eibar

    The Barça coach warned his squad about sitting back against Saturday's rival. He said Pedro will start but that the rest depends on the circumstances. "I'm only worried about the next opponent, Eibar, and their potential. They're playing well and could create problems," assured Luis Enrique in Friday's press conference, rather certain that the international stoppage won't have any affect on his players, any imminent records, or next...

  • The ERC's President, Oriol Junqueras, on Tuesday at the Catalan Parliament's press conference room (by ACN)

    17.10.14 - 19:59

    Deal on 2015 Catalan Government's budget is uncertain because of self-determination agenda

    The Catalan Government is currently preparing its budget for the next year. However, it is uncertain whether a new budget will be approved or the current one will have to be extended. The Government's parliamentary supports are uncertain because of self-determination and the prospect of early elections on the horizon of to be transformed into a plebiscite on independence. The governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU does not...

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas (standing up), addressing the ERC's leader, Oriol Junqueras, at the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday (by R. Garrido)

    16.10.14 - 21:11

    Potential pro-independence coalition after Catalan elections turned into independence plebiscite

    After the cancellation of the original consultation vote scheduled for the 9th of November, parties are preparing for hypothetical early elections, transformed into a de facto referendum on independence. The parliamentary stability alliance between the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing Catalan independence party ERC is seriously damaged. This affects the approval of the Catalan...

  • A caption from the Catalan Government's website for the 9th of November's participatory process (by Generalitat de Catalunya)

    16.10.14 - 21:07

    Preparations for alternative independence vote kick off while Madrid hesitates to act against it

    The Catalan Government is gradually disclosing details and starting preparations for the alternative consultation process on independence that will take place on the 9th of November, which replaces the consultation vote also scheduled on that day. Meanwhile, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, celebrates "the excellent news" about the Catalan Government abandoning the previous consultation vote, which had been temporarily...

  • Pilar Eyre and Jorge Zepeda on Wednesday evening, at the Planeta Prize ceremony (by P. Francesch)

    16.10.14 - 20:49

    Mexican Jorge Zepeda Patterson scoops 63rd Planeta Prize with novel 'Milena o el fémur más bello del mundo'

    On Wednesday evening, at an award ceremony in Barcelona, the Mexican author won the prestigious literary award the Planeta Prize, with his novel 'Milena o el fémur más bello del mundo' ('Milena, or the most beautiful femur in the world'). The Planeta Prize, now in its 63rd edition, is an award bestowed on unpublished books in Spanish that are submitted under pseudonyms, and with false titles, in theory to avoid...