• A Caga Tió hidden in the woods, ready to be picked up by a family (by ACN)

    Catalan Christmas: Cava and Kings, where children get to beat a log until it poos out their presents!

    Logs that poo presents, men with 365 noses, and cakes with hidden surprises, Christmas in Catalonia has many of its own unique traditions. These include 'Caga Tió' - a log that brings edible goodies  to children; live nativity scenes featuring 'El Caganer' - a humorous hidden figure to bring good luck, and 'El Tortell de Reis' a cake that can turn you into a King. While the Santa-led celebration on the 25th is becoming increasingly important due to marketing and globalisation, in Catalonia traditionally the biggest day (when children receive presents) is the 6th of January, which is the 'Dia de Reis' (Day of the Kings), when kids wake up and discover presents brought by the Three Wise Men. The night before, the Three Kings parade around the main cities and towns, forming a big colourful and festive procession.

A detail of La Pedrera's façade after its restoration, showing Christmas decorations (by T. Somoza)

Barcelona’s Gaudí-designed La Pedrera shows its restored façade

After 11 months of restoration work, the world-famous Art-Nouveau building located on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia boulevard and officially known as ‘Casa Milà’ is once again showing its unique façade. Designed by the Catalan architectural genius Antoni Gaudí, this wonderfully innovative residential house, also known as La Pedrera (The Quarry), was completed in 1910. With its undulating façade made of white stone and twisted wrought iron decorating the balconies (mostly designed by Josep Maria Jujol), the building initially shocked Barcelona’s bourgeoisie. However, after a few years it had become an iconic symbol of the Catalan capital. Nowadays, it represents perhaps the greatest masterpiece of Catalan modernism and Gaudí’s most famous building together with the Sagrada Família Basilica. 

The Catalan President, Artur Mas, voting on 9 November (by P. Mateos)

Supreme Court accepts prosecution of Catalan President for symbolic vote on independence

Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) has accepted all the criminal complaints filed against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, Vice President, Joana Ortega, and Catalan Education Minister, Irene Rigau, for having authorised the non-binding and symbolic vote on independence that took place on 9 November. However, it rejected all the complaints filed against other politicians and civil servants, such as mayors and school directors. The TSJC will finally launch a judicial investigation for “alleged disobedience” after charges were pressed by several individuals and organisations, including the Spanish Public Prosecution Office, whose Director is appointed by the Spanish Government. In fact, the official prosecution of members of the Catalan Executive by the Spanish authorities has been extremely controversial. Pro-independence civil society organisations are organising a solidarity campaign, through which individual citizens will plead guilty for participating in November’s vote. Meanwhile, the Catalan Government insisted they acted in the correct manner.

The Catalan economy grew by 0.3% between July and September (by ACN)

Catalonia posted a 1.5% annual GDP growth rate in September

The Catalan economy grew by 1.5% at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2014 in annual terms, while at the end of June it was growing at a rate of 1.3%. Catalonia has therefore accumulated 4 consecutive quarters with positive annual economic growth. However, although the economic recovery has slowed somewhat, growth remains positive, as other figures show. In quarterly terms, Catalonia’s GDP increased by 0.3% between July and September, which represents a drop from the 0.5% growth registered for April – June and also for January – March. Meanwhile, in Spain as a whole, the economy grew by 1.6% in annual terms at the end of September and by 0.5% in quarterly terms. The European Union is posting the same growth rates as Catalonia: 1.5% in annual terms and 0.3% in quarterly figures.

Barça players scored 5 goals against Córdoba (by FC Barcelona)

FC Barcelona vs Córdoba CF: Five goals to end the year (5-0)

Pedro in the first minute, Luis Suárez with his first goal in the Spanish League, Piqué with a header and Messi with a late brace scored the goals as FC Barcelona defeated Córdoba 5-0. The win means the Catalans will spend Christmas just one point behind leaders Real Madrid, who don’t play this weekend.Saturday afternoon got off to the perfect start when Barça took the lead in the very first move of the game. Ivan Rakitic chipped the ball forward and Pedro met it with a wonderful piece of control before slamming home the opener. The rest of the half saw Barça in complete control and having plenty of chances to extend their lead. Barça couldn’t have wished for a better end to 2014, and now it’s time for the players to get a well-earned rest over the festive season.

  • Mas-Colell (left) and Montoro (right) on Tuesday evening (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    Catalonia will not have to pay interest on Spanish Government loans from 2012 to 2015

    The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, has confirmed a new fiscal measure to increase the Autonomous Communities’ revenue, benefiting the Catalan Government as well. After the Council on Fiscal and Financial Policies (CPFF) held on Tuesday evening, Montoro confirmed that interest rates will be set at 0% for the loans given to the regional governments since 2012 through the Liquidity Fund (FLA). The measure will also be in place for 2015. However, the Autonomous Communities that have already met the deficit targets will also be granted a 0% rate for 2016 and 2017. The Catalan Government welcomes the measure but is sceptical about its details. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, demanded an entirely new funding scheme, since the current one expired a year ago. Montoro is not renewing the inter-territorial funding scheme and instead is using this loan system, which obliges regional governments to return the transferred funds.

  • Montserrat Caballé singing in Peralada Festival in 2012, when she was 79 (by ACN)

    Soprano Montserrat Caballé avoids trial for tax fraud with a €240,000 fine

    The world famous opera singer Montserrat Caballé reached on Tuesday a prejudicial agreement to avoid trial for tax fraud committed in 2010. The Catalan soprano, aged 81, admitted that her fiscal residence was not set in the fiscal haven of Andorra that year and therefore had evaded paying taxes to the Spanish authorities. Caballé, who is considered one of the greatest sopranos ever by both critics and fans alike, accepted the Public Prosecution’s petition of a 6-month jail sentence and a €240,000 fine, which corresponds to almost half of the evaded money. Since the jail sentence is shorter than 2 years and Caballé has no criminal record, she will not have to be imprisoned. The fine is to be added to the €508,000 she already deposited in the spring to compensate the Spanish Tax Agency. On top of this, she will still have to pay €75,000, corresponding to the interest on the money evaded.

  • Hundreds of citizens queuing in front of the Supreme Court to plead guilty for having participated in November’s vote (by E. Rosanas)

    Citizens queue in front of Supreme Court to plead guilty for symbolic independence vote

    Hundreds of citizens have pled guilty in solidarity with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, Vice President, Joana Ortega, and Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, who are being prosecuted by the Spanish authorities for having authorised and co-organised the symbolic vote on independence that took place on 9 November. On Tuesday morning, citizens queued to plead guilty in front of Catalonia’s Supreme Court. This comes a day after the Court launched a judicial investigation on the criminal complaints against three members of the Catalan Government filed by a few individuals, extreme-right organisations and the Spanish Public Prosecution Office, whose Director is directly appointed by the Spanish Government. The solidarity campaign is organised by the civil society association that organised the largest pro-independence rallies of the last 2 years, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). Many leading politicians are also pleading guilty and all the parties in Catalonia, except the Spanish nationalist ones, have come out in protest against the penal prosecution of the Catalan Government on account of a political issue.

Highlights

  • A woman voting in Tarragona on November 9's symbolic vote on independence (by R. Segura)

    19.12.14 - 21:15

    Opposition to Catalonia’s independence would win for first time since 2012

    For the first time in the last two years, the number of people opposing independence from Spain would be more than those supporting the separation, according to an opinion poll released on Friday by the Catalan Government’s Survey Institute (CEO). 45.3% of the interviewees would oppose independence, while 44.5% would support it. According to the CEO’s Director, Jordi Argelaguet, these figures indicate “a technical...

  • Leo Messi with the 2013 IFFHS as best goal-scorer (by FC Barcelona)

    19.12.14 - 18:14

    Iniesta and Messi receive 2013 IFFHS award

    The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) presented the awards for the year 2013. Messi has been honoured as the highest goalscorer in the world’s main football leagues, and Iniesta as the best playmaker in the world. On Friday, Andrés Iniesta and Leo Messi received the awards at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper from Robert Ley, vice-president of the IFFHS. This is the second consecutive time...

  • The Catalan Parliament's plenary, which voted for the Transparency Law and rejected amendments to the Catalan Government's budget proposal for 2015 (by A. Moldes)

    18.12.14 - 21:44

    Transparency and Good Governance Law approved in Catalonia

    The Catalan Parliament approved on Thursday the Law on Transparency, Information Access and Good Governance with 81% in support and 2% in opposition. This bill comes a few months after the Catalan Government was graded 100 points out of 100 by Transparency International Spain for the information it makes available to citizens through its website about public contracts, tenders, subsidies and elected officials. However, these measures also...

  • Eduardo Torres-Dulce in an old picture (by ACN)

    18.12.14 - 20:59

    Director of Public Prosecution Office resigns after arguing with Rajoy and Catalan prosecutors

    Spain’s Director of the Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, has announced his resignation “for personal reasons”. However, it is well-known that Torres-Dulce has had several arguments with the Spanish Government, run by the People’s Party (PP) and chaired by Mariano Rajoy. The latest argument was about prosecuting the Catalan President and other members of the Catalan Government for the symbolic vote on...

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas (right), and the ERC's leader, Oriol Junqueras (left) are negotiating about the budget but also about running together and calling early elections (by A. Moldes)

    18.12.14 - 20:04

    Catalan Government’s 2015 budget continues its parliamentary approval process

    The left-wing independence party ERC has joined the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU in allowing the Catalan Government’s budget bill for 2015 to continue its parliamentary approval process. Although critical of the budget proposal, the ERC backed the centre-right coalition in the hope that Catalan President and CiU leader Artur Mas will call early elections in the coming weeks, which are likely to be transformed...

  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, addressing the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday (by A. Moldes)

    17.12.14 - 20:57

    Spanish Government may eliminate interest rates on loans funding Autonomous Communities

    The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, has announced new measures “to reduce the interest rates” paid by the Autonomous Community governments, including that of Catalonia. A few hours early, Spanish Finance Ministry sources told the CNA that the interest rates of the loans given to the regional governments through the Liquidity Fund (FLA) and the fund to pay providers would soon be lowered to 0%. Instead of...

  • Sandro scored one goal against a honourable Huesca side (by FC Barcelona)

    17.12.14 - 11:23

    FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca (8-1): Barça roll into Spanish Cup's last 16

    The Blaugrana beat a brave Huesca side at Camp Nou with a convincing 8-1 victory at the second leg of the Spanish Cup’s last 32.
In a game that saw many of Barça’s regular players sitting and watching, it was one of their stars, Pedro, who did real damage. Pedro’s first-half hat trick leads the way as the Catalans march onward and upward in the competition. Adama, who had come on for Munir in the 74th, scored his...

  • Íñigo Méndez de Vigo (right) talking with his French homologue, Harlem Désir (by European Council)

    16.12.14 - 22:38

    European Council commits "to respect" Member State decisions on their "territorial integrity"

    The Spanish Government has welcomed a European Council decision which emphasises that "territorial integrity" is "an essential function" of each Member State. Furthermore, the EU institution will "respect" the "national identities of Member States inherent in their fundamental political and constitutional structures, inclusive of regional and local self-government". Such statements are included within a more general declaration about...

  • Jordi Pujol (centre) and his wife, Marta Ferrussola, in their house in the Catalan Pyrenees this summer (by L. Busquets)

    16.12.14 - 21:46

    Judge indicts former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, his wife, one son and two daughters

    The former Catalan President and founder of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Jordi Pujol, confessed in July that his family had kept millions in fiscal havens for almost 35 years without informing tax authorities. Furthermore, in the last two years, several judicial and police investigations have implicated several of Jordi Pujol's sons in financial and corruption scandals. Now, the judge investigating the former...

  • Felip Puig (right) presenting the Catalan Government's new initiative (by P. Mateos)

    16.12.14 - 20:26

    Private companies to be created within 2 days in Catalonia

    The Catalan Government has issued the Bureaucratic Simplification Law, which should speed up the creation of new private businesses. The new bill should make things easier for 75% of new business initiatives, according to the Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig. He explained that entrepreneurs carrying out innocuous or low-risk activities will be able to create a new company and start working within 48 hours, after...

  • The talk of Joan Herrera (right) on Monday (by N. Julià)

    15.12.14 - 21:53

    Green Socialist leader highlights the need to vote on social issues and budget cuts besides independence

    Joan Herrera, the leader of the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV-EUiA, also held his own conference on Catalonia's political future and self-determination road map, after those of the Catalan President, the Spanish Prime Minister and three other political leaders. Despite supporting Catalans' right to vote on independence, Herrera rejected exclusively voting on independence, since after years of budget cuts and...

  • The ERC's Spokesperson for economic affairs at the Catalan Parliament, Pere Aragonès, on Monday (by A. Moldes)

    15.12.14 - 20:13

    Catalan Government's budget for 2015 to pass its first parliamentary filter

    The left-wing independence party ERC announced it will not block the Catalan Government's budget proposal for 2015, which should allow the bill to continue its parliamentary approval process. ERC's decision comes within the negotiations with the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU to run together or separately in early Catalan elections that should be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence. The CiU is...

  • Barça and Manchester City will face each other at the last 16 round of the Champions League (by FC Barcelona)

    15.12.14 - 17:13

    Manchester City will be FC Barcelona's opponents in the Champions League's last 16

    The first leg in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League will be played in Manchester on the 24th of February with the return leg at Camp Nou on the 18th of March. The tie is a repeat of the encounter in the last 16 the previous season, which was the two sides' only previous meeting in Europe. Barça came through victorious. Manchester City appeared to be out of the competition at one point in the...

  • Pedro scored three goals against Getafe last season, but on Saturday the game stayed without goals (by FC Barcelona)

    14.12.14 - 12:32

    Getafe vs FC Barcelona: Goals didn’t want to come (0-0)

    The Catalans dominated from start to finish, but the goals just didn’t want to come. Barça were by far the better side, but Getafe limited themselves to neutralising that superiority and got away with a point. With Neymar absent through injury and his place in the Barça frontline occupied by Pedro, the game got off to a quiet start, with neither side doing anything of note for the first quarter of an hour. The second...

  • The DHUB building, hosting Barcelona's Design Museum (by A. Veciana)

    12.12.14 - 21:20

    Barcelona Design Museum opens with a 70,000 collection bringing together 4 museums

    The Design Museum of Barcelona will open on December 14 and showcase the diversity of its collections and their origins, across 4 permanent exhibitions. The new centre, located within the DUHB building, will have a total collection of 70,000 items, coming from the previously existing Museum of Decorative Arts, the Ceramics Museum, the Textile Museum and the Cabinet of Graphic Arts. The aim of the new museum will be to "rediscover" the...

  • The presentation of the report on Catalonia's scientific production (by ACN)

    12.12.14 - 21:12

    Scientific production in Catalonia endures despite a 19% reduction of research funds

    In 2011 and 2012, funds for scientific research in Catalonia dropped from €277 million to €224 million, a 19% decrease, according to a study issued on Friday by the Catalan Association of Public Universities. Despite this drastic budget reduction, scientific production has managed to keep similar levels to previous years and continue standing at levels similar to those in countries such as the UK or Belgium. The report compiles...