• Xavier García Albiol (right) this Monday (by R. Garrido)

    PP chooses controversial former Mayor to run in Catalan elections, despite his xenophobic statements

    The conservative People's Party – which runs the Spanish Government – has chosen Xavier García Albiol, whose statements have been called xenophobic by many, to top its candidature for the next Catalan Parliament elections and run for President of the Catalan Government. García Albiol, who was Mayor of Badalona between 2011 and 2015, will replace the leader of the PP's Catalan branch, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, who is currently involved in a dirty political espionage case. A few weeks ago it was said that the PP would stick with Sánchez-Camacho to run in the next Catalan Elections, scheduled for 27 September and likely to be transformed into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence from Spain. However, after the rest of the main parties chose new faces to top their candidatures, the PP is doing the same and has picked García Albiol, who lost Badalona's mayoral office in May, despite being the most voted candidate, as he was unable to achieve an absolute majority.

A restaurant in Lleida (by ACN)

Unemployment falls to 19.1% in Catalonia and 22.4% in Spain in June

At the end of June there were 31,900 fewer jobseekers in Catalonia than in March and 44,200 less than a year ago, according to the Active Population Survey for the second quarter of the year released on Thursday. These figures mean Catalonia's total number of unemployed was 726,200 individuals and that the unemployment rate was 19.1% at the end of the second quarter. In March, the unemployment rate was 20.05%; in December, 19.88%; and in September, 19.1% as well, the same as for June of this year. In addition, the number of people with a job increased by 51,800 individuals between March and June, a 1.71% increase in quarterly terms. Compared to a year ago, in June there were 35,000 more people with a job than in June 2014. At Spanish level, unemployment also decreased during the second quarter of the year, with 295,600 fewer jobseekers registered, a 5.43% reduction on figures from March. In the whole of Spain, there were 5,149,000 people without a job and a 22.37% unemployment rate overall.

Lluís Llach will be heading the unitary pro-independence list 'Junts pel Sí' in Girona (by ACN)

Singer-songwriter and anti-Franco activist Lluís Llach to head pro-independence unitary list in Girona

Lluís Llach, one of the most famous Catalan musicians and one of the main voices against Franco's dictatorship, will  top the pro-independence unitary list running in the Girona Province in the forthcoming Catalan elections, which should become a 'de facto' referendum on independence. In the Tarragona Province, the 'Junts pel Sí' pro-independence list ('Together for the Yes') will be topped by economics professor Germà Bel, an expert on infrastructure. The list groups together Liberal, Social-Democrat, Green, and Christian-Democrat politicians, as well as many independents and representatives from civil society. It will officially start the independence process if they win the elections and pro-independence parties obtain an absolute majority in the Catalan Parliament. The list is topped by former Eco-Socialist Member of the European Parliament, Raül Romeva, who is running in Barcelona Province.

Security cameras in the Spanish Parliament (by ACN)

Spanish Parliament approves law allowing Rajoy to take control of Catalan police "to defend Spain"

The Spanish Parliament has approved a bill through which the Spanish Government can take control of the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalonia's police corps managed by the Catalan Executive), in order "to defend Spain" or in the event of a natural disaster. The Spanish Government has justified the measure by stressing the need to enhance coordination in a crisis situation, putting several security corps under the same command. However, the law also comes in the middle of Catalonia's debate on independence from Spain and with several voices in Madrid, including leading members of the Spanish Government, talking about the possibility of suspending Catalonia's autonomy in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence. The Catalan Government will take the new law to the Constitutional Court, as it is an invasion of its own powers.

Barça supporters in Berlin's Olympic Stadium (by FC Barcelona)

UEFA fines FC Barcelona for supporters' Catalan independence flags at Champions League final

UEFA's Disciplinary Committee has decided to issue FC Barcelona, the current champions of Europe, with a €30,000 fine due to the Catalan independence flags displayed and the songs sung by its supporters during May's Champions League final in Berlin. Despite UEFA representatives present at the final having praised the "excellent behaviour" of the Catalan supporters during the game in their official report, the Disciplinary Committee acted after a complaint was filed at a later stage by a Ukrainian lawyer based on the TV broadcast. UEFA condemns "the use of gestures, words […] to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature" in its Disciplinary Regulations.

  • The presentation of Catalonia's own tax administration (by J. R. Torné)

    Sweden and Australia to be models for Catalonia's own Treasury

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, presented on Monday the model for Catalonia's own Treasury, which will be developed should "the political conditions" be there, he stated. "This is the most serious attempt to build our own Treasury in the last 300 years", stressed Mas. "After two years of work, we are ready" to launch and Catalans should not waste "this great opportunity", he stressed. "Without our own Treasury, there is no real self-government", the Catalan President stated. The system would include Catalonia's own Tax Agency and  is inspired by the taxation authorities in countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Australia, which prioritise cooperation with taxpayers over controlling them. In these models, efforts are concentrated on severely persecuting tax evaders and underground economy, while the vast majority of tax-payers who deal correctly with their fiscal obligations receive assistance and have unlimited access to their fiscal data.

  • Jane Goodall receiving the Premi Internacional Catalunya award from the Catalan President, Artur Mas (by P. Francesch)

    Jane Goodall receives 27th Catalunya International Award for her contribution to humankind

    The British primatologist Jane Goodall, whose work with chimpanzees revolutionised the understanding of animals and the definition of being a human being, has received the 27th Premi Internacional Catalunya award, which is Catalonia's most prestigious award given each year to a world leading personality for his or her contribution to humankind. The independent jury awarded Goodall the recognition for her scientific work but also for her work as an activist, protecting nature and raising awareness worldwide about the need to do so. "We have to learn to live in peace and harmony among each other and with nature", said the English primatologist in her acceptance speech during a solemn ceremony held at the Generalitat Palace in Barcelona. The award comes with a copy of a sculpture designed by Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies called 'La clau i la lletra' (The key and the letter) and an €80,000 prize, which Goodall will donate to one of her foundations.

  • MACBA's new Director, Ferran Barenblit (by P. Francesch)

    Argentinean Ferran Barenblit chosen as new director of Barcelona's Contemporary Art Museum MACBA

    Barcelona's Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA) is entering a new period, under the leadership of Ferran Barenblit, born in Buenos Aires in 1968. The international competition opened to choose MACBA's new director has resulted in the hiring of Barenblit, who until the present day was Director of Madrid's CA2M Art Centre. Previously, the Argentinean manager had been Director of Barcelona’s Santa Mónica Art Centre (from 2003 to 2008). The MACBA opened a public competition in March, after the previous Director, Bartomeu Marí, resigned in the wake of the great controversy surrounding the last-minute cancellation of a temporary exhibition because one of the sculptures depicted the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, being sodomised by a dog. The sculpture had been designed by the Austrian artist Ines Doujak. Marí decided to cancel the opening, provoking loud protests from curators and a significant public controversy, with accusations of censorship being aimed at the director.

Highlights

  • Tourists visiting Barcelona (by O. Campuzano)

    22.07.15 - 19:56

    New tourist record in Catalonia: 7.4 million foreigners came in the first half of 2015

    The number of foreign tourists visiting Catalonia continues to increase year after year. On Wednesday, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism released the figures for foreigners visiting Spain between January and June 2015. 7,439,211 international visitors came to Catalonia in that period, the highest number ever and a 4.4% increase on the figures from the previous year (when 7.1 million foreigners came). In addition,...

  • Luis Suárez scored Barça's first goal after the summer break, after Marc Bartra's assist (by FC Barcelona)

    22.07.15 - 15:29

    FC Barcelona vs Los Angeles Galaxy: Barça's solid start to the preseason (2-1)

    Confident FC Barcelona defeat the MLS champions with goals from Luis Suárez and Sergi Roberto. FC Barcelona got their preseason off to a fine start with a 2-1 victory against MLS champions Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena in front of an astonishing crowd of 93,226. Goals from Luis Suárez and Sergi Roberto put the Catalans well in command, and Tommy Meyer’s 92nd minute header merely served as late consolation...

  • The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, a few weeks ago in Madrid (by ACN)

    21.07.15 - 22:07

    Rajoy “ready” to face unilateral declaration of independence, which would be “a frontal attack on the law”

    The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, stated on Tuesday that a unilateral declaration of independence in Catalonia in the event that pro-independence parties obtain an absolute majority in September’s Catalan elections would be “a frontal attack on the law”, “which has no precedent in democratic and civilised countries”. The day after the pro-independence unitary list presented its road map for the months...

  • Basketball star Kobe Bryant, who is a FC Barcelona fan, visited the Catalan team's training session in Los Angeles (by FC Barcelona)

    21.07.15 - 21:04

    Los Angeles Galaxy v FC Barcelona: The treble winner are back!

    The Catalans are in California for the first friendly of the 2015/16 preseason in their debut appearance in the International Champions Cup. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California is the venue for FC Barcelona’s first match of the 2015/16 preseason, which kicks off at 8.00pm on Tuesday local time and early Wednesday morning back in Barcelona at 5.00am CET. A crowd of over 90,000 is expected to watch as the Catalans face current Major...

  • Pablo Iglesias talking in Barcelona on Monday evening, next to ICV-EUiA leaders (by ACN)

    21.07.15 - 17:05

    Podemos leader promises to respect “the democratic will expressed by Catalans” on self-determination

    Pablo Iglesias, Secretary General of the Spanish alternative left party Podemos, has committed himself in Barcelona to respecting “the democratic will expressed by Catalans” regarding a self-determination vote, although he did not mention independence. Iglesias made this statement during the presentation of the electoral coalitions built for both the Catalan and Spanish elections with the Catalan Eco-Socialist and Post-Communist...

  • Ramon Adell (left) and Josep Maria Bartomeu (right) shaking hands on Monday (by FC Barcelona)

    20.07.15 - 23:14

    Taking office of FC Barcelona's new board, headed by Josep Maria Bartomeu

    Ramon Adell, president of FC Barcelona's Management Committee, and Josep Maria Bartomeu, newly elected president of the Catalan club, have signed the transfer of powers on Monay in the President Suñol Box at Camp Nou and subsequently held an extraordinary meeting of the Management Committee and the new Board of Directors of FC Barcelona, which officially took office. FC Barcelona elections took place on Saturday and incumbent...

  • The presentation of the 'Junts pel Sí' unitary pro-independence list (by B. Fuentes)

    20.07.15 - 22:19

    "If the majority is there, the Catalan Parliament will solemnly declare the start of the independence process", states Romeva

    The pro-independence unitary list for the next Catalan elections and the road map towards independence were officially presented on Monday evening at Catalonia's National History Museum. Liberals, Social-Democrats, Greens, Christian-Democrats, Socialists and civil society organisations are running together and transforming the 27 September elections into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence. "What we are doing here is very strange but we...

  • Pep Guardiola, FC Bayern Munich's current manager and former FC Barcelona coach, casting his ballot in the 9 November symbolical self-determination vote (by ACN)

    20.07.15 - 15:21

    Football coach Pep Guardiola to symbolically run in pro-independence list for Catalan elections

    The current manager of FC Bayern Munich, Catalonia-born Pep Guardiola, will occupy the symbolic last position on the unitary pro-independence list running in the next Catalan Parliament elections, which groups together Liberals, Social-Democrats, Christian-Democrats, Socialists, Greens and civil society organisations, according to news released on Monday morning by the ‘El País’ and ‘El Periódico’...

  • Masip, Bartra and Piqué (from left to right) arriving at Los Angeles (by FC Barcelona)

    20.07.15 - 14:45

    FC Barcelona arrive in the USA

    At around 2.00pm local time on Sunday afternoon (11.00pm CET) Barça landed at Los Angeles airport following a twelve hour direct flight from Barcelona. The blaugranes had left at 11.00am CET for the United States after a week of training prior to their pre-season tour across the Atlantic. California welcomed FC Barcelona with cloudy skies but warm temperatures with Los Angeles being the first of three US cities that Barça will...

  • The King of Spain, Felipe VI (left), and the Catalan President, Artur Mas (right), on Friday at La Zarzuela Palace (by ACN)

    17.07.15 - 21:58

    King of Spain and Catalan President hold formal meeting

    "I come in peace", stated the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, when a journalist asked him whether he saw himself coming to La Zarzuela Palace once again as a Head of State on an official visit. It was the first meeting between the Catalan President and the King of Spain, Felipe VI, after the unitary pro-independence list was announced for the forthcoming Catalan Parliament elections, scheduled for 27 September and likely to...

  • From left to right: Joan Herrera, Pablo Iglesias and Dolors Camats in late June (by ACN)

    17.07.15 - 12:46

    Podemos and Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV to run together in both Catalan and Spanish elections

    On Friday, the Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV and alternative left-wing Podem (Catalan branch of the Spanish party Podemos), reached an agreement to run together in the Spanish elections, after already having agreed a few days ago to run together in the next Catalan elections (scheduled for 27 September). The Spanish elections have not been called yet, but are expected to be held later this year, according to Barcelona-based newspaper...

  • The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in a recent press conference (by ACN)

    16.07.15 - 21:09

    Rajoy: "Catalonia's independence will not take place"

    The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has reacted to the unitary pro-independence list that will run in the next Catalan elections (scheduled for 27 September) and which groups the main civil society organisations with Liberals, Social-Democrats, Socialists, Greens and Christian-Democrats politicians. These elections will become a 'de facto' plebiscite on Catalonia's independence from Spain, after almost 3 years of the Spanish...

  • Cranes in Barcelona's Port (by ACN)

    16.07.15 - 21:07

    Catalan exports up by 4.5% in May, setting a new record for this month

    This May, Catalan exports increased by 4.5% on the same period in 2014, reaching €5,301.7 million and setting a new record as the best May since 2000 (when comparable data started to be collected), according to figures published on Thursday by the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness. Imports also rose, by 2.7% to €6,331.2 million. The chemical industry accounted for €1,433.9 million, increasing by 7.1%,...

  • Former Catalan MEP, Raül Romeva, at the European Parliament (by European Parliament / ACN)

    15.07.15 - 21:44

    Raül Romeva, former Eco-Socialist MEP, will top the unitary pro-independence electoral list

    Former Member of the European Parliament Raül Romeva, who also used to be a member of the Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV, will be heading the pro-independence unitary list formed for the next Catalan elections by the Liberal party CDC, the Social-Democrat ERC, the Socialist MES and the Christian-Democrat DC with leading representatives from civil society. Civil society activists Carme Forcadell and Muriel Casals will come second and...

  • The report has been presented at the European Parliament (by L. Pous)

    15.07.15 - 21:40

    Independence would be economically beneficial for Catalonia, finds Brussels think tank CEPS

    The Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and Barcelona-based Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) think tanks, together with an Italian and a Greek research centre, have presented a report stating that the economy of an independent Catalonia would grow more in the next 15 years than if the current 'status quo' was kept. The study analyses 3 different scenarios: the current model, an agreed independence process and a...

  • A caption of Airbnb's portal (by Airbnb / ACN)

    15.07.15 - 21:29

    Newer forms of tourist accommodations to be regulated under Catalan Government decree

    The Catalan Government has presented a decree, pending approval "in the coming months," that will regulate up to eight types of tourist accommodations, including new types that until now were not contemplated by the law, like motorhome areas, casual Bed & Breakfasts and informal rentals. The decree is an effort to quell the rapid expansion of tourist accommodations in newer platforms – like the Internet service Airbnb – and...