• One of the Constitutional Court's members arriving at the urgent meeting this Monday afternoon (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    Constitutional Court temporarily suspends Catalonia's self-determination consultation vote

    The Constitutional Court has accepted the Spanish Government's two appeals filed on Monday against the 9th of November's self-determination vote decree and the Catalan Parliament's law on which it is based. This decision automatically means the temporary suspension of the law and the decree, a suspension which could be extended after 5 months should the Court not have yet reached a definitive verdict. In addition, it also suspends "the rest of actions" deriving from the law or the decree's implementation, including those taken "by third parties". The decision has been made in an urgent and non-scheduled plenary meeting, which was organised just 5 hours after the Spanish Government had filed the appeals. The Constitutional Court's plenary never meets on Mondays and its next meeting was scheduled for the 7th of October. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has criticised "the supersonic speed" by which the Court has met. Mas asked this body to act as "the referee of all and not only of a part".

A stand selling organic food (by ACN)

Catalan economy grows by an annual rate of 1.4% in the second quarter of 2014

Catalonia’s GDP recorded an annual increase of 1.4% in the second quarter of 2014, the best result since September 2008, according to official figures published on Friday by the Catalan Institute of Statistics (IDESCAT). The 1.8% increase in domestic demand means that the annual rate of Catalonia’s GDP is higher than Spain's average, and more than that of the European Union (EU28), both located at 1.2%. Not only is Government spending showing a favourable trend, but there has also been growth in the services sector, and those of industry and agriculture. From September 2014, the EU has set mandatory implementation of the new European System of Accounts (ESA 2010), which IDESCAT plans to have in place to coincide with the results of the GDP in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol, at the parliamentary hearing about the fiscal fraud he confessed (by A. Moldes)

"I haven't been a corrupt politician", states former Catalan President Jordi Pujol but doesn't answer questions

Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government for 23 years between 1980 and 2003, has given further explanations about his fiscal fraud confession to the Catalan Parliament but he has not answered the manifold questions from the MPs. Furthermore, Pujol was visibly angry over some accusations launched by Spanish nationalist parties and alternative left MPs. There had been a lot of expectation for this parliamentary hearing for the person who used to lead the centre-right Catalan nationalism from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, who confessed at the end of July that his family had been storing money in tax havens for the last 34 years without informing tax authorities. In the current political situation of tensions between Catalonia and Spain, with many corruption scandals emerging and with millions of people suffering from the hard effects of the economic crisis, Pujol's confession ignited the atmosphere. On top of this, the former Catalan President had referred on many occasions to the merits of hard work

The Catalan Finance Minister, former Harvard and Berkeley Professor, Andreu Mas-Colell, talking in Girona on Thursday (by X. Pi)

Catalan Finance Minister rejects €3.3 billion budget cut imposed by Spanish Government in 2015

Andreu Mas-Colell, the Catalan Government's Minister for Finance, emphasised that he cannot implement further budget cuts without "severely deteriorating" basic public services. After Catalonia's ministerial spending having dropped by an average of 20.3% with continuous budget cuts since 2010, public spending reduction has reached its "limit", argued Mas-Colell. The Catalan Government has exclusive control over public healthcare, education and social policies, while most of its revenue depends on transfers from the the Spanish Executive, which collects the taxes paid by Catalan citizens. Once again, Mas-Colell accused the Spanish Government of "strangling" Catalonia's finances by recentralising power. He announced he will not carry out an additional €3.3 billion budget reduction in 2015 and asked Madrid to honour pending debts, modify the too-strict deficit targets and review Catalonia's funding scheme.

Ivan Rakitic and Leo Messi celebrate one of Barça's 6 goals against Granada (by FC Barcelona)

FC Barcelona vs Granada CF: Back at home, Barça cruise to win (6-0)

Barça finish tough seven-day stretch with a rout. Sixth consecutive shutout to start the season ties FC Barcelona record. Luis Enrique probably won’t mind being wrong this time. After all, FC Barcelona’s head coach spent the last two days repeatedly warning his players that Saturday’s opponent would be no cakewalk. He said Granada were tough defensively and dangerous on the counterattack. And while the opening minutes were slow to develop once again for Barça’s feared attack, the opposing defence slowly wilted and eventually collapsed.

  • Luís Enrique at the press conference before the PSG vs Barça match in Paris (by FC Barcelona)

    París Saint-Germain vs FC Barcelona: Barça's French exam

    A spectacular duel is awaiting at the Parc des Princes in Paris this Tuesday evening (8.45 PM CET). Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona, two of the strongest teams in Europe, face each other in a rematch of the quarter final two years ago. Barça won through on that occasion by virtue of the away goals rule after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate. And although this year’s encounter is not quite as do-or-die as the one in 2013, a win in Paris would leave the Catalans well poised in their quest to qualify from Group F. The Parisians go into the game without any of Thiago Silva, Lavezzi or Ibrahimovic. However it certainly won’t be easy for them to defend their incredible record of having gone seven games this season without conceding a single goal.

  • The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, announcing the appeals against the Catalan measures (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    Rajoy takes the Catalan consultation vote to the Constitutional Court, which is holding an early meeting

    The Spanish Government held an extraordinary meeting this Monday morning to approve the appeals against the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and the decree calling the 9th of November consultation vote. The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, considered the Catalan measures to be "antidemocratic" and "an attempt against the rights of all Spaniards". The appeals were filed at 1:15 pm and, after this, the Constitutional Court announced it was holding an extraordinary meeting at 6:30 pm, instead of waiting until the next regular meeting, scheduled for the 7th of October. Furthermore, the Spanish Government's main advisory body, the Council of State, gave their recommendation on Sunday evening to file the appeals. Such a recommendation came after the Spanish Government asked for it on Saturday morning, the first time in Spain's democratic history that such a body reacted so quickly. The Catalan Government advised Rajoy and the Constitutional Court to be very careful with their decisions, as they could make "the greatest mistake in Spain's democracy".

  • The Catalan President signing the decree calling November's consultation vote, surrounded by the leaders of parties supporting such a process (by R. Moreno)

    Catalan President signs decree calling self-determination consultation vote on 9 November

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has formally called a consultation vote on the 9th of November in order “to find out the [citizen] opinion” about “Catalonia’s political future” to launch “the legal, political and institutional initiative” to negotiate the necessary changes at the Spanish level. The Spanish Government has immediately replied that such a vote “will not take place” and that it will take it to the Constitutional Court, as it had already announced. Mas insisted that the democratic mandate from the last Catalan elections allowed him to organise a self-determination vote. Furthermore, “as all the other nations in the world, Catalonia has the right to decide its own future”, he stressed. The decree was signed on Saturday morning, in a ceremony attended by  all the Catalan Ministers and most of the political leaders supporting November’s vote. In addition, 92% of Catalonia’s municipalities have approved motions backing November’s vote and the law on which the decree is based was approved with 80% parliamentary support.

Highlights

  • The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister (left) with the Spanish Finance Minister (right) on Friday (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    26.09.14 - 21:49

    Catalonia to call self-determination vote on Saturday and Madrid to appeal it on Monday

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, will finally sign the decree calling the 9th of November's self-determination vote on Saturday, a week after the Catalan Parliament approved the Law on Consultation Votes with 80% support. Mas will sign the decree surrounded by most of the leaders from the parties supporting November's vote and after having received the explicit support from 92% of Catalonia's municipalities....

  • Air pollution in Barcelona (by ACN)

    25.09.14 - 21:38

    Catalonia to fight climate change by reducing public transportation prices on polluted days

    40 municipalities in Barcelona's Metropolitan Area, are to half the price of public transport during incidents of high air pollution. This is part of a Catalan Government plan for the improvement of air quality with the goal to fight climate change, affecting 4.3 million people. The main objective of the plan is to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and of particle matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10). The plan also...

  • Andrés Iniesta, playing against Málaga (by FC Barcelona)

    25.09.14 - 11:50

    Màlaga CF vs FC Barcelona: Barça drops first points in the Spanish League (0-0)

    Barça dominated Malaga at La Rosaleda on Wednesday evening, but the combination of a poor playing surface and an ultra-tight Andalusian defence meant that not only did they score no goals, but also failed to produce many real chances. Time and time again they pushed forward in search of a way to break the deadlock, but the best they could achieve was a series of half-chances and near misses. For the first time this season,...

  • Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, announcing his resignation as Spain's Justice Minister (by ACN)

    23.09.14 - 21:02

    Rajoy makes Justice Minister resign just before launching legal actions against Catalan independence vote

    The person coordinating the Spanish Government's legal strategy and actions against Catalonia's self-determination consultation vote, which are supposed to be launched at any moment, has resigned a few hours after an announcement made by the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. Spain's PM announced on Tuesday morning that the controversial reform of the Abortion Law, which was the main project of the Justice Minister, Alberto...

  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, chairing the weekly Cabinet Meeting (by J. Bataller)

    23.09.14 - 20:55

    Catalan President is waiting to call independence vote to weaken Spanish Government's veto strategy

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is using his legal prerogatives to control the political tempo regarding the call of the 9th of November's self-determination consultation vote and therefore the Spanish Government's immediate appeal against it. As if it were a chess play, Mas' tactic seems to follow a strategy based on gathering as much institutional support as possible throughout Catalonia and on disturbing...

  • Tourists enjoying rafting at the Noguera-Pallaresa river, in the Catalan Pyrenees (by ACN)

    22.09.14 - 21:48

    Catalonia continues to lead foreign tourism, with a 7.5% increase in August

    Tourism booms in Spain, with 9 million international visitors in August 2014, up by 8.8% since last year. Official data shows record breaking numbers, with August being the busiest month. In the first seven months of this year, tourists spent over €34.5 billion, the highest number in history. Catalonia is the most popular destination, attracting over 2.4 million tourists in August alone, a 7.5% increase from last year. Following...

  • Barcelona City Council's building (by ACN)

    22.09.14 - 21:44

    Barcelona and 700 other municipalities approve motions supporting 9 November's independence vote

    The City Council of Barcelona as well as 300 other town halls throughout Catalonia approved on Monday a motion supporting the self-determination consultation vote, scheduled for the 9th of November. Some 400 other municipalities have confirmed they will do the same in the current week and more could join in the coming days. With this action, Catalan municipalities want to back the parliamentary agreement to carry out such a vote,...

  • The Magic Horse that will be displayed in China (by Institut Ramon Llull)

    22.09.14 - 21:11

    Beijing Design Week focuses on Barcelona with manifold exhibitions, conferences and activities

    This year, Barcelona will be the focus of the Beijing Design Week (BJDW), to be held between the 26th of September and the 3rd of October in the Chinese Capital. The international exhibition will dedicate 8 spaces to Barcelona, the biggest being 79 Tank, a 3,500 square metre pavilion housed in an old gas tank. The BJDW will devote a total of 5 exhibitions, 17 conferences and more than 20 activities to the design made...

  • Leo Messi and Ivan Rakitic celebrate Barça's second goal against Llevant (by FC Barcelona)

    22.09.14 - 10:52

    Llevant UD v FC Barcelona: Barça's five goal feast maintains 100% record

    Barça put five past Levante in Valencia on Sunday evening, with Neymar, Rakitic, Sandro, Pedro and Messi all on target. FC Barcelona has obtained 12 points from 12, 11 goals scored and none conceded for Luis Enrique’s team, who’ve made an impressive start to their three game week, with Malaga and Granada next up. Barça beat Llevant to continue both their unbeaten record and keep yet another clean sheet, which Luis...

  • The Catalan Parliament welcomes the new Law on Consultation Votes (by ACN)

    19.09.14 - 22:08

    Catalan Parliament approves law to be used for self-determination consultation vote with 80% support

    The Law on Consultation Votes, which will be used to call the non-binding consultation vote on independence scheduled for the 9th of November, has been approved by 79% of the Catalan Parliament, with the only opposition being from Spanish nationalists People's Party (PP) and Ciutadans (C's). This bill was already foreseen in the 2006 Statute of Autonomy, Catalonia's main law after the Constitution, but it had not been approved...

  • Leo Messi and Neymar in the recent match against APOEL of Nicosia (by FC Barcelona)

    19.09.14 - 21:34

    FC Barcelona aims to get nine points in seven days

    This is going to be a key week for FC Barcelona as they will have three Spanish League matches in seven days. From Sunday 21st September through Saturday 27th, Luis Enrique's squad will have nine points in play, the same number of points that were on the table through the entire first month of the season. Barça is set to visit Levante (Sunday 21), Malaga (Wednesday 24), and then host Granada (Saturday 27). FC...

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas, addressing the press after Scotland's referendum (by P. Mateos)

    19.09.14 - 18:32

    Catalonia's self-determination is "strengthened" by UK's "democracy lesson", states Catalan President

    A few hours after the Scottish people decided to remain within the United Kingdom through a referendum, the Catalan President and the Spanish Prime Minister congratulated the Scots, although they sent completely different messages. Through a recorded video message, Spain's PM, Mariano Rajoy, stated that Scotland has rejected the "severe consequences" of "splitting up from the UK and the EU". Rajoy stressed that Scots have chosen "between...

  • Containers at the Port of Tarragona (by R. Segura)

    18.09.14 - 21:09

    Catalan exports growing faster than ever, with the 6.9% in July marking an all-time record

    Last July, Catalonia broke its export record ever achieved in a single month, reaching €5.67 billion. This marked a 6.9% growth from the same month in 2013. Furthermore, Catalan sales abroad reached another record high in the period between January and July of 2014, at €35.44 billion, an increase of 2.6% from last year's same period. Meanwhile, exports have increased throughout the rest of Spain by 1.3% between January and July in...

  • Ana Sofía Cardenal, Professor at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) in the MediaTIC building (by Rebecca Lock)

    18.09.14 - 18:30

    The Internet has strengthened the Catalan independence movement

    "Without a doubt the independence movement would never have been so successful without Web 2.0 technologies" says Scottish academic Kathryn Crameri. In the last few years support for independence in Catalonia has grown considerably, with around 50% of the Catalan population supporting the movement in 2014, compared to some 15% 10 years ago. In his new book, 'Sobirania.Cat', prominent Catalan journalist Saül Gordillo explains...

  • Gerard Piqué being hugged by Messi, Bartra, Sergi Roberto and Samper (by FC Barcelona)

    18.09.14 - 10:37

    FC Barcelona vs APOEL FC: Winning start (1-0)

    Luis Enrique was able to celebrate his managerial debut in the Champions League with three points, but just as he had warned beforehand, the APOEL Nicosia presented a far tougher challenge than many had predicted. Despite dominating almost of the play, Barça only found the net once, a Gerard Piqué header after 27 minutes. Ter Stegen pulled on the goalkeeper’s jersey for the first time in an official match, and the night...

  • The Catalan President (right) welcomes the motion approved by a two-third majority of the Catalan Parliament votes (by R. Garrido)

    17.09.14 - 21:59

    Two-third majority of Catalan Parliament reaffirms its commitment with November 9 independence vote

    A two-third majority of the Catalan parliament has approved a motion supporting the self-determination consultation vote, scheduled on the 9th of November, which has to take place "with all the possible democratic and participation guarantees". With this resolution, parties have reaffirmed their commitment to carry out this vote, which will very likely be banned by the Spanish authorities in the coming days. The parliamentary...