• Catalan economy grew by 1.5% in 2014, the best year since 2007

    The GDP of Catalonia increased by 1.5% during 2014, according to the definitive figures released by the Catalan Statistics Institute (Idescat) on Friday. However, on the same day, the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE) published its economic growth figures for 2014 and announced that the Catalan economy had grown by 1.4% last year, the same rate as Spain. In any case, both figures are quite positive after many years of economic crisis and slowdown. In fact, 2014 has been the best year since 2007, when the Catalan economy grew by 3.2% according to the Idescat. The final figure for 2014 is higher than the provisional 1.2% growth rate previously announced. Following European Union instructions, the calculations for last year include R&D activities, as well as prostitution and trafficking of drugs and tobacco.

Nestlé factory in Girona, which will be expanded (by ACN)

Nestlé to invest €102 million to expand its Girona plant producing Nescafé

The Swiss multinational will build a new factory for Nescafé in Girona, where it has already an important plant that exports its products to more than 70 countries. Nestlé will invest €102 million in the project and the new facilities should be operational by the end of 2017, explained the company's Director General for Spain, Laurent Dereux. It will become the most important plant in Europe and its third-biggest in the world in terms of soluble coffee production capacity. The new factory will be built next to the existing plant and will add 10,000 additional square metres to the compound, increasing its production capacity by 30%. It will replace the plant’s oldest production chain, which will not be dismantled as it could be useful in the medium term. The expansion will bring some 40 new jobs to the Catalan plant.

The families of the Germanwings aircraft victims arriving at Le Vernet, in the French Alps (by G. Sánchez)

Many Catalan families of the airplane crash victims return home after tribute in the Alps

On Thursday, the families of the Germanwings crash victims arrived at the crash site to bid farewell to their relatives. They did so on the day it became known that the aircraft was deliberately crashed by the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, killing all 150 people on board. A private ceremony took place in a field in Le Vernet that hosts a small chapel and faces the mountain on which the plane crashed. The relatives of the victims, most of them Germans and Catalans, arrived by bus from Marseille, escorted by the French Gendarmerie and psychological support teams. A tribute plaque was unveiled and they were told that the crash happened just on the other side of the mountain in front of them. After the ceremony, they were transferred to a pavilion in Seyne-les-Alpes, where they were offered religious services of various faiths for those who needed them. In the evening, most of the Catalan families decided to return home, as initially planned.

Girona City Council, observing a minute silence in front of the town hall building (by ACN)

Minutes silence observed throughout Catalonia in tribute to Germanwings flight victims, many of them Catalans

Town halls and the Catalan Parliament, but also private companies, public institutions and a high school related to the victims of the Germanwings aircraft have observed a minutes silence on Wednesday at noon, in tribute to the 150 people killed in the accident in the French Alps. At least 39 of the 51 victims with Spanish nationality were Catalans, although this figure is likely to increase in the coming hours. Many were businesspeople on their way to an agri-food fair in Cologne. Among the victims there was also a group of 16 high school students and 2 teachers from Germany, whom had spent an exchange week in Llinars del Vallès (Greater Barcelona). The high school that hosted them held a homage and mourning tribute. In addition, Barcelona's Liceu Opera Theatre also observed a minutes silence, since baritone Oleg Bryjak and mezzo Maria Radner, and her family, were among the victims.

Red Cross workers attending relatives of the victims at the hotel in Castelldefels (by J. Pujolar)

Relatives of Catalan victims of Germanwings disaster to arrive at crash site in coming hours

A bus transporting relatives of the passengers of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday has departed on Wednesday evening from Barcelona, together with a support team from Catalonia's Medical Emergencies Service (SEM). In addition, on Thursday morning, Lufthansa, which owns low-cost airline Germanwings, will put on a plane from Barcelona to Marseille to transport other relatives, who will also travel with SEM teams. The CEO of the German company, Carsten Spohr, held a press conference in Barcelona El Prat Airport on Wednesday evening, in which he announced this measure, after meeting with some relatives. Spohr also stated that the accident was "incomprehensible" and that the aircraft had departed from Barcelona with a half-hour delay due to airport traffic and not because of a technical problem. During the day, relatives have been taken care of in a hotel in Castelldefels.

  • Catalonia had a 2.58% deficit in 2014, more than the 1% deficit target imposed by Madrid (by ACN)

    Catalonia had a 2.58% deficit in 2014, more than the 1% deficit target imposed by Madrid

    The Catalan Government registered a 2.58% deficit in 2014, according to the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, already unveiled this figure a few days ago, but explained that it was including the public bailout of a highway charged on 31 December 2014, as otherwise the figure would be 2.13%. In any case, Catalonia's deficit is higher than the 1% target unilaterally imposed by the Spanish Government on the Autonomous Communities. The Catalan Government protested months ago, saying that it was not a realistic target, that it was unfair since it was not in line with spending responsibilities in the management of basic public services, and that it was went against the Budget Stability Law. The Catalan Government took it to the Constitutional Court but the verdict has not been issued yet.

  • Mas Miró's exact location portrayed in Joan Miró's 'La Masia' famous painting (by A. Mayor)

    Joan Miró's family farmhouse in southern Catalonia to be converted into a museum by 2016

    The country house where one of the world's greatest artists of the 20th century, Joan Miró, spent his summers in his teenage and adult years will be transformed into a museum. The Mas Miró, the artist's family farmhouse located in Mont-roig del Camp, in the Catalan Province of Tarragona, will be open for visitors by summer 2016. The project – developed by RCR and Varis Arquitectes studios – will consist of two phases. The first – costing a total of €2.5 million – entails the conversion of the farmhouse and the painter's studio into a museum, the renovation of the housekeeper's house and the construction of an entry pavilion. The second – which will cost €3 million – envisages the creation of new areas such as: a restaurant, a new car park, a multipurpose room and a workshop space. Work is due to start in the coming weeks.

  • Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, leaving the court building on Thursday (by P. Mateos)

    Son of former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, tells judge how Andorran money grew

    Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, the eldest son of former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, has testified in court to explain the management of the money his family kept in Andorra for 34 years without informing the Spanish tax authorities. Jordi Pujol senior confessed the alleged fraud in July, shocking the entire Catalan society and destroying his moral leadership. In the past few months, the former Catalan President (1980-2003), his wife, and 6 of their 7 children have been indicted for alleged fiscal fraud, and 3 of them are also indicted for other corruption and fraud cases. The Spanish authorities may have known about irregular activities of the Pujol family for decades, but it only made front-pages when the former President started to publicly support independence. Besides, the Catalan Parliament have already undertaken a series of hearings to investigate potential corrupt practices during Pujol's governments.

Highlights

  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, talks with the French President, François Hollande, at Seyne-les-Alps (by G. Sánchez)

    25.03.15 - 22:15

    Catalan President visits Germanwings aircraft crash site, where many Catalans died

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, travelled on Wednesday morning to France in order to visit the crash site of the Germanwings Barcelona-Düsseldorf flight, which crashed in the Alps on Tuesday killing all 150 people on board. Out of the 51 passengers with Spanish passports whose identities have so far been confirmed, 39 of them were Catalans, although this figure is likely to increase in the coming hours. Furthermore,...

  • Relatives of the Germanwings flight's victims, abandoning El Prat Airport inside a bus (by P. Solà)

    24.03.15 - 22:35

    Relatives of Germanwings flight victims receive assistance at Barcelona El Prat Airport

    Barcelona El Prat has been the main centre in Catalonia for assisting the relatives of the passengers flying on the Germanwings aircraft between the Catalan airport and Düsseldorf that crashed in the Alps this morning. 150 people were on board and, most likely, there will not be any survivors, according to French authorities. Teams of psychologists, social workers and first responders, from the Catalan Government, the Red Cross and...

  • Salvador Alemany, President of Abertis, on Tuesday (by J. Molina)

    24.03.15 - 22:28

    Abertis' telecommunications subsidiary to operate as Cellnex Telecom from 1 April

    Barcelona-based Abertis' telecommunications subsidiary, Abertis Telecom Terrestre, will operate as Cellnex Telecom, S.A. from 1 April, as approved by the company's Shareholder General Assembly on Tuesday. The new name and brand are part of the preparations for a potential stock market flotation, as announced last October in the context of Abertis' 2015-2017 Strategic Plan. However, neither the Catalan group's President Salvador Alemany, nor...

  • The Director of Temporada Alta theatre festival, Salvador Sunyer (by Martí Artalejo)

    24.03.15 - 22:26

    Temporada Alta Festival Director: "If Catalonia was one big city, Girona would be its theatre quarter"

    Salvador Sunyer, Director of the theatre festival Temporada Alta, is a great example of what defines an entrepreneur. He created the company ‘Bitò Produccions’ in Girona in 1992 along with two professional local actors who wanted to stimulate theatrical activities in the city. They immediately planned the creation of a new festival called the ‘Temporada Alta’ 24 years ago as a short cycle based on premieres,...

  • Germanwings logo in Barcelona El Prat Airport (by ACN)

    24.03.15 - 13:30

    Germanwings aircraft from Barcelona to Düsseldorf crashes in French Alps with 150 on board

    A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner covering the route between Barcelona El Prat and Düsseldorf has crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday around 11am (CET), according to initial information from the radio station Europe 1. According to the French President, François Hollande, it is very likely that "there will not by any survivors". The GWI9525 flight, run by Lufthansa's low-cost company, was carrying 144 passengers and 6 crew...

  • The Mayor of Barcelona (left), the CCIC Group's Vice President (centre) and the Catalan Business Minister (right) opening the new lab on Monday (by L. Fíguls)

    23.03.15 - 21:36

    First lab for certifying European automotive products for Chinese market opens in Catalonia

    The first lab in Europe for certifying car industry products to be sold in China has been unveiled in L'Hospitalet del Llobregat, near Barcelona's seaport and El Prat Airport. The Chinese publicly-owned company CCIC Holding Group opened on Monday a lab in Greater Barcelona, which will also certify products from other industries, such as the textile industry, and the construction and chemical industries. As well as products from Europe, it...

  • Ada Colau presenting Barcelona en Comú's full list a few days ago (by J. Pérez)

    23.03.15 - 21:27

    Broad left-wing coalition aims to shake up local elections in Barcelona in May

    The coalition will be led by the social activist Ada Colau, former spokeswoman of the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH), a Spanish grassroots organisation that helped citizens to stop evictions, promoted housing rights and in 2013 was awarded the European’s Citizens Prize. The local left-wing front will be mainly formed by the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV-EUiA and several parties campaigning...

  • Participants of the 2014 Volta (by Jon Herranz / Volta Ciclista a Catalunya)

    23.03.15 - 17:06

    Catalonia's road bicycle tour Director: “Our competition is at the highest level of world cycling”

    The Tour of Catalonia, known as ‘La Volta’, was born in 1911 and is the 3rd oldest cycling competition in the world, just behind the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. Its Director, Rubèn Peris, is proud of the event and says that “‘La Volta’ is something bigger than a race” and is an ambassador for showing Catalonia to the rest of the world, included in the UCI World Tour...

  • Barça players celebrating Luis Súarez's goal against Real Madrid (by FC Barcelona)

    23.03.15 - 12:54

    FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Suárez magic wins the Clásico (2-1)

    FC Barcelona have moved four points clear at the top of the Spanish League table after Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez produced a second half wonder-goal to win the Clásico.
Jérémy Mathieu had headed Barça into an early lead before Cristiano Ronaldo equalised for Real Madrid. Sunday night’s Clásico was no disappointment. Both sides served up a veritable footballing feast, and although Real...

  • Barcelona stock exchange (by O. Campuzano)

    20.03.15 - 21:22

    Banc Sabadell approves takeover of UK bank TSB for €2.4 billion after increasing capital by €1.6 billion

    Last week, TSB announced Banc Sabadell's interest in purchasing all of the shares of the British bank, which is partially owned by Lloyd's. The board of the 6th largest bank in the United Kingdom then said they would welcome the Catalan bank's takeover bid, which they set at £3.40 per share (equivalent to €4.80). This meant that Banc Sabadell would buy TSB for £1.7 billion, or €2.4 billion. At that time, the...

  • 'Picasso/Dalí. Dalí/Picasso' features works from both artistic giants (by P. Cortina)

    20.03.15 - 21:13

    Picasso and Dalí works, face to face for the first time, are on show in Barcelona

    Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled on Friday the first exhibition in the world analysing how Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí artistically admired and influenced each other, despite their political differences. The Catalan museum has opened the most awaited temporary exhibition of the season, which will run until 28 June. 'Picasso/Dalí. Dalí/Picasso' showcases 78 works of these two giants of 20th century art,...

  • Sílvia Martínez (blue) running Granollers' Half Marathon (by L. Abellán)

    20.03.15 - 20:55

    Pain is only temporary. Jogging becomes a phenomenon in Catalonia

    Jogging has, without a doubt, become a phenomenon in Catalonia. The number of marathon runners doubled from 2008 to 2013 and now stands at 57,000. In 2012, the Barcelona Marathon saw record figures with 16,000 finishers, compared to the 138 that completed the first race in 1978. The rise of running is "something spectacular" and "studies show that 10% of the population are runners and this is certainly going to grow," says Eduardo Grimal,...

  • PSG player Marco Verratti will miss the first leg, together with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (by FC Barcelona)

    20.03.15 - 17:34

    FC Barcelona to play PSG in Champions League quarters

    The draw for the Champions League quarter finals has been made, and Barça have been drawn against PSG in a head-to-head battle for a place in the semi-finals of Europe’s premier club competition. The first game will be played in Paris on April 15, and a week later, on April 21, the sides will meet again at the Camp Nou. The two teams, who know each other well from this year's Group F, were the first pair to be drawn. In their...

  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, at the Catalan Parliament a few weeks ago (by ACN)

    19.03.15 - 22:32

    Catalan Government posts 2.13% deficit for 2014, higher than 1% target, due to lack of revenue

    The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, has announced a €4.23 billion deficit for 2014, representing a 2.13% deficit, significantly higher than the 1% target imposed by the Spanish Government. Mas-Colell stressed that spending went as planned, but revenue was far from the expected result, obtaining €1.91 billion less than expected, since the Spanish Government reduced the Catalan Executive's funds by €600 million. In...

  • The new 3D projection system set up in Montsec Universe Observation Centre (by O. Bosch)

    19.03.15 - 22:19

    First 'Open 3D' Planetarium in the world opens in Montsec, western Catalonia

    In 2013, the UNESCO-supported Starlight Foundation granted Montsec Observatory, located in the Catalan Province of Lleida, its own Tourism certification, for having "one of the clearest skies in the world". On 14 March, Montsec's Centre for the Observation of the Universe (COU) reopened its doors for its seventh season. This year its multimedia facility - the Eye of Montsec – has been converted into the first 'Open 3D' planetarium in...

  • Vueling and American Airlines present their agreement in Barcelona, with Catalan Transport Minister, Santi Vila (centre) (by J. Morros)

    19.03.15 - 21:20

    American Airlines and Vueling to connect short and long-distance flights through Barcelona El Prat

    Vueling and American Airlines signed on Thursday an agreement to foster the interconnection of their flights through Barcelona El Prat Airport and Rome-Fiumicino so as to increase their destination network. The Barcelona-based airline offers 140 destinations from the Catalan capital to Europe, the Middle-East and Africa, and 55 from the Italian airport. American Airlines clients will be able to take a flight to Barcelona and transfer to a...