• The Catalan President, Artur Mas (left) and Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida (right), on Monday (by P. Mateos)

    CiU's 'number 2' quits his post within the coalition but continues leading the Christian-Democrats

    Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, who was the Secretary General of the centre-right pro-Catalan State two-party coalition CiU, quit his post on Monday in the middle of the tensions for the self-determination vote and Catalonia's potential independence from Spain. However, Duran will continue to lead the Christian-Democrat party within the CiU (UDC) and to be the CiU's strong man in Madrid. In addition, one of his closest allies within UDC, Ramon Espadaler, will take his place as Secretary General. Duran is against independence, although he supports building a Catalan State within a Confederated Spain as well as the self-determination vote scheduled on the 9th of November. However, since a wide majority of people within the CiU would vote for independence (including the Catalan President, Artur Mas), internal tensions for Duran's personal stance have increased. Furthermore, there are increasing rumours that the CiU could break up for the first time in more than three decades.

The new electric bikes that will be added to the Bicing service (by J. Regué)

Barcelona´s public bicycle service due to launch an electrical bike service by the end of this year

Barcelona´s bicycle sharing service, Bicing, has announced plans to launch an electrical bike service designed to aid longer journeys around the city. This service aims to improve the effectiveness of the current Bicing service by promoting the use of electrical bicycles, which will further enhance the image of Barcelona as a ´Smart City´. An initial trial of the new service will begin this December when 300 electronic bikes will be spread over 45 Bicingstations across the city. As with the original Bicing service, this new scheme will be directed towards regular residents of Barcelona and will be unavailable to short-stay tourists.

The third meeting of the National Alliance for Self-Determination (by P. Mateos)

3,000 organisations to send Rajoy a letter asking him not to block "the legal" self-determination vote

Catalonia's National Alliance for Self-determination, which brings together some 3,000 entities including political parties, local governments, trade unions, employer associations, Chambers of commerce and NGOs, held on Friday its 3rd meeting. The Alliance decided to send the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, a letter to ask him not to block the self-determination vote scheduled for the 9th of November, which would be organised under the Catalan legal framework. The document will highlight that the Constitutional Court stated that it did not have powers to solve issues arising from a part of Spain wanting to modify its political status and that "public powers, particularly the territorial ones" are those who have to solve it "through dialogue and cooperation". The letter will be sent in the coming days, ahead of the meeting between Rajoy and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas. In this meeting, Mas will discuss this vote but also the institutional and social issues in Catalonia.

Cranes and containers in the Port of Barcelona (by ACN)

Exports from the Port of Barcelona increase by 63% from pre-crisis levels registered in 2008

63% more exports have been channelled through the Port of Barcelona during the first six months of 2014 than in the same period of 2008, prior to the economic crisis. On Friday, the President of Barcelona Port Authority, Sixte Cambra, announced that 2014 will be the year of record sums of exports and imports from the Catalan port. The Port finished the first half of 2014 with 22.5 million tons of goods transported, representing an increase of 7% compared with the same period of 2013. Cambra said that growth occurred in all cargo sections of the port, driven by foreign trade, especially exports.

MACBA's new documentation and studies centre (by MACBA)

Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA) broadens its horizons with new exhibition spaces and services

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) is expanding into the nearby Àngels Square in the heart of the historic neighbourhood Raval. On 17th July the museum unveiled the details of its future plans, which are designed to increase the flow of visitors to the art centre. These include increased exhibition spaces and the expansion of the existing MACBA Study Centre. The project is estimated to cost a total of €2 million, 1.5 million of which will be provided by Barcelona City Council, and it is hoped that this will increase the number of visitors to the museum by 15% per year.

  • Basf plant in Tarragona (by ACN)

    BASF postpones its Tarragona intermodal station to 2017 due to Madrid's delay building the Mediterranean Corridor

    German chemical multinational BASF does not expect to launch its intermodal merchant station in Tarragona's petro-chemical compound until early 2017, two years after it initially forecast. The date of commissioning, as recognised by the company, is conditioned by the start of construction of the third rail connecting the railway line in Tarragona to the Mediterranean Railway Corridor (a strategic transport priority for the European Union), an infrastructure the Spanish Government keeps delaying. Although there is currently no start date for construction, BASF has set up the company ‘Combiterminal Catalonia SL’: a 'joint venture' with Contank SA, Hoyer España SA, and Schmidt Holding GmbH and Tradillo Inversiones SL (Pañalón Group) collaborating to build and operate the station.

  • Headbirds playing in New York's Central Park (by Institut Ramon Llull)

    Catalan bands Mishima, Txarango and Headbirds perform in New York´s Central Park

    Three of Catalonia´s most popular music groups played in Central Park in New York City on Sunday 21st July as part of the SummerStage Festival. The three Catalan performers, Mishima, Txarango and Headbirds, participated in the event under the slogan ´Catalan sounds on tour´, with the aim to internationalise Catalan musicians and performers. The festival is organised by New York´s City Parks Foundation with the object to raise awareness of the richness of different cultures, and this year includes the participation of the Ramon Llull Institute (IRL), Catalonia's public body to promote Catalan language and culture abroad.

  • Luis Enrique (centre), in his first match as Barça's Manager (by FC Barcelona)

    Recreativo Huelva v FC Barcelona: Barça's winning start of the 2014/15 pre-season (0-1)

    Luis Enrique led Barça to a win in Huelva thanks to a Joan Roman goal. All FC Barcelona's 23 players got to play, and the visitors dominated from start to finish. The Colombino Trophy match between Recreativo Huelva and Barça will always be remembered for being Luis Enrique’s debut as first team manager. Goalkeeper Ter Stegen got to make his debut, and although he didn’t have much to do, on the few occasions when he was called upon, he did well. There were only three first team players in the starting eleven (Masip, Montoya and Sergi Roberto), with the other eightall coming from the reserves. Luis Enrique fielded a completely different eleven in the second half, four of which were first team players - Ter Stegen, Bartra, Afellay and Deulofeu

Highlights

  • Agbar's headquarters, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and located in Barcelona (by ACN)

    18.07.14 - 20:27

    Criteria, the industrial holding of La Caixa, acquires 7% of France's Suez Environnement

    Barcelona-based Criteria CaixaHolding becomes the second largest shareholder of Suez Environnement after signing a binding agreement with the French-based utility company for the sale of Criteria's 24.14% stake in Agbar (Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona, S.A.) in exchange for 22 million newly issued Suez Environnement shares. These shares represent 4.1% of Suez's share capital and €299 million in cash. As part of the agreement,...

  • Barcelona's Olympic Stadium located on Montjuic hill (by ACN)

    18.07.14 - 17:45

    Barcelona Olympic facilities to host a 66.000 m2 sports theme park in 2015

    Barcelona Olympic Ring will become the home of the first theme park in the world entirely dedicated to sports, called Open Camp Sportainment. According to the company responsible for the project, the 66.000 m2 theme park will offer a "unique" show involving technology, family and sports. The new attraction will occupy the current Olympic Stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi sports hall, the Olympic Museum, the Bernat Picornell swimming...

  • A branch of CatalunyaCaixa (by ACN)

    18.07.14 - 16:24

    CatalunyaCaixa confirms the sale of its €6.4 billion high risk mortgages to US Blackstone

    CatalunyaCaixa (CX) on Thursday confirmed the sale of its portfolio of high risk loans to US investment company Blackstone, consisting mainly of mortgages with a nominal value of €6.392 billion and provisions of €2.205 billion. The transaction involved the transfer of funds to a portfolio of asset-backed securities for an amount equal to its book value, €4.187 billion, with €3.615 billion supplied by Blackstone and...

  • The presentation of the Transparency International's report (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    17.07.14 - 22:10

    Catalonia, the Basque Country and Castile and León lead transparency rankings, while Madrid is at the bottom

    The Catalan Government, alongside the executives of the Basque Country and Castile and León, is leading the index of Autonomous Communities in terms of transparency, according to a study issued on Thursday by the organisation Transparency International Spain. These three Autonomies scored 100 out of 100 in the study, which was based on 80 indicators. They were followed by La Rioja (96), Galícia (94) and the Balearic Islands...

  • The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, in a recent press conference (by La Moncloa)

    17.07.14 - 17:41

    Rajoy considers self-determination vote "absurd" and rejects discussing it with the Catalan President

    The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, stated on Wednesday that he "will not join absurd debates" and will not "participate in the game" to negotiate Catalonia's self-determination vote since "the referendum is illegal and will not take place". Ironically, Rajoy accepted the request of the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, to meet, but he has specifically rejected to talk about the purpose of the interview: the...

  • Setting up one of the 4 doors in the Sagrada Família's Nativity Façade (by E. Sendra)

    17.07.14 - 17:37

    First door of the Nativity Façade of the Sagrada Família has now been fitted

    On Wednesday the first door to the Façade of the Nativity of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s famous basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí, was finally installed. The bronze gate is inspired by nature and is full of metal leaves, flowers and insects. It is located in the ‘Portal of Charity,’ and is the creation of Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, a passionate follower of Gaudí’s career who has been...

  • Some of the Prado paintings showcased in Barcelona Caixaforum's exhibition (by P. Cortina)

    17.07.14 - 17:26

    Barcelona art museum CaixaForum exhibits a selection of the ´little treasures´ from Madrid's Prado

    On the 16th July Barcelona art centre Caixaforumopened its last major exhibition of the season entitled ´Beauty captivates. Little treasures from the Museo del Prado´. The exhibition contains 135 small canvases from the great artists within Madrid´s museum collection such as Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Goya and Tiziano. It will run for almost six months, until the 5th of January 2015. The...

  • The Catalan Parliament's Committee that approved the final draft of the Consultation Votes bill (by P. Mateos)

    17.07.14 - 01:10

    The Catalan bill on Consultation Votes passes its last-step-but-one with 80% of parliamentary support

    The future Law on Consultation Votes, which should enable the organisation of a self-determination vote in Catalonia on the 9th of November, has been approved by the parliamentary committee in charge of drafting it and sending to the plenary for the final approval in late September or early October. It has passed with the support from all the parties – including the Socialists (PSC) – except the Spanish nationalist...

  • The Catalan President surrounded in December by the leaders of the other parties that supported the self-determination vote of November 9 (by G. Sánchez)

    16.07.14 - 22:50

    Catalan President assures parties that any change on the self-determination vote will be agreed with them

    Before meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition CiU, Artur Mas, contacted the other parties that agreed to organise a self-determination vote on the 9th of November in order to explain to them how he envisages the talks that will take place in Madrid. Mas guaranteed them that they would be consulted on any possible...

  • Barça's away shirt for the 2014-15 season, designed by Nike (by FC Barcelona)

    16.07.14 - 13:59

    FC Barcelona and Nike unveil new away kit for season 2014-15

    Barça's away kit for the 2014/2015 season has been unveiled this Wednesday, which is almost entirely bright crimson, a mix of red, orange and pink. The kit will be available starting on July 16 on nike.com/fcb and in stores on July 17. The bright crimson kit is fresh and unexpected to represent the desire of youth to stand out from the crowd, states the Catalan club. The shirt sports a crew neck collar and is entirely bright crimson...

  • Empty flats in Central Catalonia (by M. Martí)

    15.07.14 - 20:54

    Catalan Government finally approves tax on empty flats owned by financial institutions

    The Catalan Government approved on Tuesday a measure to impose a tax on empty flats owned by financial institutions. The aim of the tax is to incentivise banks to rent out the empty homes. Santi Vila, the Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability, said that the "mere announcement" of the tax has already caused Sareb [Spain's public 'bad bank'], Catalunya Caixa and Bankia to yield to the Government 1,230 apartments for social rent....

  • A factory in Banyoles, north-eastern Catalonia (by L. Casademont)

    15.07.14 - 20:43

    Recovery of Catalan economy is ahead of that of Spain, employer association report finds

    ''The recovery has come and has come to stay,'' according to Salvador Guillermo, Director of the Economy of Catalonia's main association of business-owners, Foment del Treball. Guillermo, who coordinated the report published on Tuesday, said that the analysis of economic data confirms that the positive trends have been occurring a month earlier in Catalonia than in the rest of Spain, "which means that recovery is more entrenched'' in...

  • Francesc Homs, at the weekly press conference (by P. Mateos)

    15.07.14 - 18:31

    Catalan President accepts to meet with Rajoy this July in public, but would prefer a discrete meeting

    The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Government Spokesperson Francesc Homs, said on Tuesday that the President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, is willing to accept the meeting formula proposed by the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. Spain's PM rejected a discrete meeting and insisted it should be public, despite the fact the Catalan President had requested a private interview. Nonetheless, Homs said it would be better, "and...

  • A family picture of those behind Girona's Film Festival (by T. Tàpia)

    15.07.14 - 18:27

    The Girona Film Festival will showcase 175 films from 35 different countries from around the world

    The 26th edition of Girona´s Film Festival runs from the 15th to the 19th of July and will screen 175 films; a mix of feature films and short movies from 35 different countries. The festival will kick off with the restored version of Josep Maria Forn´s Los Culpables, shot in Girona in 1962. The event will also contain a new section entitled ´Made in Costa Brava Girona´, which...

  • The entrance to the Mobile World Congress, the main international event of the cell phone industry, which takes place each year in Barcelona (by ACN)

    15.07.14 - 16:55

    Barcelona is among world's top 10 places to do business and first European city for shopping tourism

    Barcelona has gone from 22nd to 7th place in the list of 468 European cities with the best economic prospects; it is ranked the 19th most competitive city in the world and the 10th in Europe; it stands at 10th in the world in terms of receiving new business investments; and it became the 4th city hosting the largest amount of congresses at world level. The report was produced...

  • Oriol Pujol attending the press after being indicted (by L. Fíguls)

    15.07.14 - 12:36

    The 'number 3' of the governing CiU resigns from all offices after being indicted for several months

    After being indicted for several months for an influence peddling and bribery case that is under judicial investigation, Oriol Pujol has now  resigned as Secretary General of the CDC, the Liberal and largest force within the two-party Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU) that runs the Catalan Government. In addition, he has resigned as Member of the Catalan Parliament. Oriol Pujol, who is the...