• 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.

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)

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 come after years of corruption scandals, which have not only occurred across Spain, but also in Catalonia. The main parties have backed the new law, while two other parties abstained and one voted against the bill because they said they did not trust the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU. With the new law, access to information will become a citizen’s right, which can only be limited when it affects people’s intimacy or a few other exceptions, including public security. 

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

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 independence held on 9 November. Several PP members announced the penal actions before Torres-Dulce had given the instruction to press charges. At that time, Torres-Dulce denied having been pressured by the Spanish Government, but many voices criticised the absence of a separation of powers. On top of this, the main public prosecutors in Catalonia initially rejected the criminal complaint, but Torres-Dulce – appointed by the Spanish Government – obliged them to file it. Furthermore, he has also had many arguments with the PP on account of the numerous corruption scandals being investigated.

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

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 that Iniesta has won the award after he also collected it in 2012, thus succeeding his team-mate Xavi Hernández, who has won it four times. Messi has also won his award for the second time in a row.

  • 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. 

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

    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 draw”, since there is only a 9-person difference out of the 1,000 interviews carried out in early December, following the 9 November’s symbolic self-determination vote. However, the figures show two important trends: the higher mobilisation of citizens opposing independence and the slight decrease of support for independence. 7.5% of those interviewed would be undecided and 2.8% preferred not to answer the question.

  • 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.

Highlights

  • 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...

  • Fuel prices are behind the inflation rate drop (by ACN)

    12.12.14 - 21:10

    Catalonia posts a -0.1% annual inflation rate in November, the second negative figure in 2014

    For the second time this year, prices have decreased in Catalonia in annual terms. By the end of November, inflation dropped by -0.1% compared to 12 months ago, mostly due to a drop in electricity and fuel prices, according to figures released on Friday by the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE). In monthly terms, prices stagnated over November compared to the October ones. In the whole of Spain, prices dropped by -0.1% in monthly terms and...

  • Recycling bins in Mollerussa, a town near Lleida, in western Catalonia (by ACN)

    12.12.14 - 20:51

    Catalan homes recycled 80% of cardboard, paper and plastic packaging in 2013

    In 2013, 80.7% of cardboard, paper and plastic packaging used in Catalan households was recycled. This rate is 2 percentage points lower than that registered in 2012 due to people stealing waste from recycling containers, according to representatives from the industry. Catalonia's overall recycling rate is 38% but the Catalan Government aims to make this 60% by 2020. The level of paper and plastic recycling by Catalan homes is almost 9...

  • Passengers travelling through Barcelona El Prat's Terminal 1 a few months ago (by ACN)

    11.12.14 - 21:44

    Barcelona El Prat Airport reaches more than 35 million passengers between January and November

    The number of passengers travelling through the main Catalan airport continues to grow year after year. Between January and November, 35.1 million people used this infrastructure, which represents a 6.8% increase from the same period in 2013. In the first 11 months of 2014, the number of passengers almost reached the global passenger figure for the whole of 2013: 35.2 million. In monthly terms, Barcelona El Prat posted a 3.8% passenger...

  • La Caixa and the Catalan Government sign the agreement on BCN World's land (by J. R. Torné)

    11.12.14 - 21:37

    Land to build BCN World's macro-casinos worth €110 million and managed by Catalan Government

    The Catalan Government is now managing the sale of the 150 hectares owned by La Caixa on which the BCN World holiday resort should build its 6 macro-casinos. On Thursday the bank and the Catalan Executive signed the agreement, which comes the day after the private investor Veremonte announced it was postponing the land purchase once again. Veremonte had an exclusivity agreement to buy 500 hectares of land before December 10 at midnight for...