• Artur Mas addressing the press on Sant Jordi Day (by P. Mateos)

    Catalan President insists citizens will vote after Rajoy asks him to give up referendum plans to start talking

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has insisted that he will call for the consultation vote on Catalonia's independence, despite the Spanish Government's obstructive attitude. Mas was answering Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who asked him to give up on his referendum plans in order to start talking. For the Catalan President, this is not an offer to talk but "an imposition". Mas insists that the reason for not allowing Catalans to vote is not legal, since several legal ways have been identified to organise such a vote, but a lack of political will from the Spanish authorities. The Catalan President sent a clear message to the European Union: "the dynamics of states cannot drown the dynamics of peoples". He emphasised that the democratic will of the Catalan people has to be taken into account by the EU. Furthermore he praised Catalonia for being an example of "integrating people with very diverse origins […] without falling into populist and xenophobic movements", which "have been emerging in Europe lately".

The web site of the UAB's Neuroscience Institute (by Institut de Neurociències de l'UAB)

Catalan researchers develop gene therapy reversing memory loss in mice with early-stage Alzheimer's

Scientists at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have found that an alteration of a neuronal gene program plays an essential role in the first stages of Alzheimer's disease and have developed a gene therapy which is effective on mice. The Catalan study occupies the front page of 'The Journal of Neuroscience'. Researchers have identified a new mechanism that regulates the expression of genes in the brain which are essential for the function of neuronal circuits involved in learning and memory. According to the new study, which was carried out by Dr. Carlos Saura's group at the UAB's Institute of Neurosciences (Institut de Neurociències), the alteration of a gene program mediating neuronal transmission and survival may underlie memory loss at early pathological stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

A caption from the CataloniaVotes.eu web site (by Diplocat)

Catalan institutions launch a website to explain the self-determination process abroad

CataloniaVotes.eu is a new website set up to present the independence referendum, related news, a chronology of the last few years and facts about Catalan society, culture and economy to a foreign audience. The new webpage is in English, French and German and will also follow the day-to-day evolution of the referendum process, a consultation vote scheduled for the 9th November. It has been launched by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), an organisation backed by the Catalan Government, the four Provincial Councils, universities, chambers of commerce, the main business-owner associations, trade unions, FC Barcelona and other public and private institutions.

More than 2.5 million foreign tourists visited Catalonia between January and March 2014 (by ACN)

Foreign tourism in Catalonia grew by 10%in the first quarter of 2014

The number of foreign tourists who visited Catalonia between January and March reached 2.55 million people, which represents a 9.8% increase compared to the same period last year. In addition, the number of international visitors in March this year increased by 4.9% compared to the same month of 2013, despite the Easter holidays not being in March but in April in 2014. In the whole of Spain, 10.1 million foreigners visited the country in the first quarter of 2014, a 7.2% increase on the previous year. 25.3% of those visitors went to Catalonia, which ranked second among the Autonomous Communities. The Canaries topped the ranking with 3.12 million alien visitors, 31% of Spain's total.

Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer at a photo opportunity at the Liceu opera theatre (by Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell press)

Rafa Nadal competes for his 9th Godó Trophy against a strong lineup in Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell

This week the ATP World Tour 500 series is in Barcelona for the 62nd  edition of the Conde de Godó Trophy, officially named Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell 2014. Rafael Nadal is the defending champion looking to retain his title, but the world no. 1 faces tough competition as the tournament features a strong lineup of some of the best clay court specialists in the world including fellow compatriot and four time finalist David Ferrer, one of the strongest contenders for the title. The lineup also includes former local resident Fabio Fognini, ranked 13th in the world and also a member of Real Club de Tennis Barcelona.

  • An image of the debate held on Thursday at the University of Oslo (by Diplocat)

    Norwegian and Catalan experts discuss Catalonia’s right to self-determination at Oslo University

    On Thursday Universitetet i Oslo (UiO) hosted a round table debate with Norwegian and Catalan academics, journalists and economists to discuss the economic viability of an independent Catalonia and how it would fit into the European framework, whether in the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). This debate was part of the conference 'Self-Determination Processes in the EU: the case of Catalonia', organised by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) together with the University of Oslo. The Diplocat – an organisation backed by the Catalan Government, universities, business associations, trade unions, FC Barcelona and other public and private institutions – is organising a series of debates in European and Spanish universities on Catalonia's self-determination demands.

  • A bookstall in Barcelona's Les Rambles (by Simão Chambel)

    Sant Jordi 2014: sun shines on Catalan festival of books and roses

    Perhaps the most famous holiday in Catalonia, Sant Jordi combines culture with romance as books and roses are exchanged. As we all know by now, the legend of Saint George is a celebration of love epitomized by the brave knight who saved a princess from a terrible dragon thus harvesting a beautiful rose from its blood. So how did that become a day for buying and promoting books? Back in 1928, some Catalan booksellers decided to promote the holiday by setting some bookstalls all over the city to celebrate the anniversary of the death of two of the biggest names in literature, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Catalan Book Day was born and it would be declared World Book Day by UNESCO in 1995. The day after the Easter break combined with great weather resulted in a 3% increase in book sales. Swedish author Jonas Jonasson, Spanish authors Almudena Grandes and Pilar Urbano and Catalan writer and athlete Kilian Jornet were the bestsellers for 2014.

  • Barça players in a recent training at the Camp Nou (by FC Barcelona)

    FC Barcelona to sign new players after the FIFA suspended its previous decision

    FC Barcelona has responded positively to the decision announced on Wednesday by FIFA’s Appeal Committee to provisionally grant suspensive effect to the appeal made by the Catalan club against the sanction imposed by FIFA’s Disciplinary Commission. The sanction was announced by the FIFA Disciplinary Commission last April 2 and prevented FC Barcelona from signing players during the next two transfer windows. The Catalan club presented an appeal against the measure within the required period.

Highlights

  • Catalans offer each other books and roses on Sant Jordi Day (by J. Molina)

    23.04.14 - 12:23

    Offering books and roses to the beloved ones: Catalans celebrate Sant Jordi Day

    On the 23rd of April, Catalans celebrate one of their dearest festivities of the year: Sant Jordi (Saint George). The day is Catalonia's equivalent to Valentine's Day in the Anglo-Saxon world but it also represents a homage to literature and reading. Traditionally men offered red roses to their girlfriends or wives, and women offered a book in return. Nowadays, both men and women offer books and roses to those they love, whether...

  • The Catalan Rumba band La Màlaga in a beach near Barcelona (by La Màlaga Essència Rumbera)

    22.04.14 - 14:33

    Catalan Rumba, the soundtrack of Barcelona

    Catalan Rumba is part of the Catalan cultural heritage as much as the traditional folk dance Sardana or the famous human towers known as Castellers. This musical genre, born on the streets of Barcelona during the Sixties, is often mistaken for flamenco or other popular Latin sounds. Musicians such as Peret, Antonio González ‘El Pescaílla’ or Gato Pérez were pioneers of this style and...

  • Barça players celebrating a goal against Athletic Bilbao (by FC Barcelona)

    21.04.14 - 12:23

    FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club: Barça are still in the Spanish League race! (2-1)

    FC Barcelona are alive in La Liga. The Catalans ended a three-match losing streak this Sunday thanks to a 2-1 win over Athletic Club, who had taken the lead through Aduriz in the 50 minute. Barça missed a number of clear chances to equalise before Pedro pounced on a scuffed shot from Alexis to score from close range in the 71. Just minutes later Messi scored a second from a free kick to seal the win and keep Barça in the hunt...

  • Barça players after the defeat against Real Madrid at Spain's Cup Final (by FC Barcelona)

    17.04.14 - 11:35

    FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid: The Spanish Cup slips away from Barça’s hands (1-2)

    Gareth Bale's goal five minutes from the end clinched the Spanish Cup for Real Madrid. Neymar almost sent the game into extra time in the final minute, but his shot hit the post. The 2014 Spanish Cup goes to Real Madrid after goals from Di María and Bale at the start and end of the match tipped the balance in their favour in this evening’s final. It was a cruel blow for FC Barcelona, who equalised with a Bartra in the second...

  • The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, on Wednesday (by J. Soler)

    16.04.14 - 21:41

    Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister accuses the Catalan Government of lying about independent Catalonia's EU membership

    The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, has accused the Catalan Government of "not telling the whole truth" regarding the EU membership of an independent Catalonia. García-Margallo stated a month ago that an independent Catalonia would "roam across space" and would be "excluded from the European Union for centuries of centuries". On Wednesday he referred to an expert report issued this week by...

  • 70% of Spanish exports are made through Catalonia (by ACN)

    16.04.14 - 19:44

    Catalonia represents over 25% of Spanish exports

    In the first two months of 2014 exports by Catalan companies increased by 2.2% on the same period last year, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness. In fact, Catalan companies were behind 25.3% of all exports from Spain. Spain's exports in January and February reached €37.76 billion, a 4% increase on figures from the same period last year. In addition, the amount reached...

  • Messi and Neymar in the last win to Real Madrid (by FC Barcelona)

    16.04.14 - 14:18

    FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid: The classic Spanish Cup final

    This Wednesday evening Valencia's Mestalla hosts the Spanish Cup Final and the Catalans face old rivals Real Madrid. It’s 63 days since FC Barcelona beat Real Sociedad in the semi-finals. It’ll be a peculiar final. There is no clear favourite, both sides are missing important players to injury, and for the first time in several years, these two teams are not the runaway leaders in La Liga. Barça come into the game...

  • The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, reacting to the European Commission's comments (by P. Mateos)

    15.04.14 - 22:10

    Brussels repeats that EU Treaties would no longer apply in a seceded region but opens the door for nuances

    A Spokesperson for the European Commission was asked on Tuesday about the report issued on Monday by the Catalan Government's Advisory Council for National Transition, which stated that EU Treaties did not include any provision regarding the secession of a Member State and therefore the final decision would be a political one, following economic interests. They stated that the most likely scenario would be setting up transition measures...

  • Containers at the Port of Barcelona a few months ago (by ACN)

    15.04.14 - 17:59

    Barcelona Port increases goods traffic by 9% in the first quarter of 2014

    The Port of Barcelona handled 10.7 million tons of goods during the first 3 months of 2014, which represents a 9% increase on the same period last year. Between January and March, all the types of transported goods posted a significant growth, and the same trend applies to the traffic of passengers, which grew by 9%. In the first quarter of the year, the number of vehicles transported grew by 5%, as did the number of containers, which...

  • The Catalan Government's Advisory Council for the National Transition met this Monday (by P. Mateos)

    14.04.14 - 21:46

    Catalan Government's Advisory Council: an independent Catalonia would not be excluded from the EU

    An independent Catalonia would benefit from transition measures that would guarantee the continuity of European Union agreements, thus staying within the Schengen Area and the Euro Zone. This is the most likely scenario in the event of independence, according to the Catalan Government's Advisory Council for the National Transition (CATN), which is a body formed of independent and prestigious academics. The CATN is issuing a series of...

  • Barça players could not score any goal against Granada (by FC Barcelona)

    13.04.14 - 11:25

    Granada CF vs FC Barcelona: Barça's destiny in La Liga is out of their hands (1-0)

    FC Barcelona suffered their fifth defeat of the season away to Granada, losing by the only goal of the match. It was one of those games in which the ball just simply didn’t want to go in. The visitors shot no fewer than 29 times, but not one of those was enough to neutralise Brahimi’s opener. This was a very different game to the ones in San Sebastian and Valladolid. At the Nuevo Los Cármenes, Barça created threat...

  • The Spanish Deputy PM on Friday (by La Moncloa)

    12.04.14 - 14:24

    The Spanish Government rejects a Constitution reform once again "because there is no consensus"

    The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, has asked the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, to abandon his demands to organise a self-determination vote in order to start a dialogue. She was answering Mas' request to PM Mariano Rajoy "to set a day and time" to start talking. Sáenz de Santamaría stated "there was already a day and a time, which was last Tuesday at 4 pm", when the...

  • One of the buildings of HP in Sant Cugat del Vallès (by ACN)

    12.04.14 - 13:58

    HP to set up its world centre for 3D printing in its Greater Barcelona offices

    Hewlett-Packard has announced that it will locate its world centre to develop 3D printing business in its facilities at Sant Cugat del Vallès, in Greater Barcelona, where it has already developed part of this technology. In fact, HP's Catalan offices are one of the multinational's main R&D centres at world level. HP also develops the technology for large-format printing in Greater Barcelona, employing some 350 engineers. In...

  • The entrance to Puig's new headquarters, designed by Rafael Moneo

    11.04.14 - 13:46

    Perfume maker Puig unveils new headquarters designed by Moneo and aims to rank the world's 3rd by 2020

    The Catalan fashion and fragrance multinational Puig, which runs international brands such as Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier and Prada, has unveiled its new international headquarters, located in L'Hospitalet business district in Greater Barcelona. The tower has been designed by Rafael Moneo, who won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1996. The Catalan company has also presented its results for 2013,...

  • The terminal of Lleida-Alguaire Airport (by ACN)

    10.04.14 - 19:54

    Israeli airline Arkia to link Tel Aviv with Lleida-Alguaire, near the Catalan Pyrenees

    The Israeli airline Arkia will offer a total of 20 flights during the summer and 20 more during the winter between Tel Aviv and the Lleida-Alguaire Airport. The new connection will start on the 27th of June and will have a capacity of 110 passengers per flight. Israeli tourists will be better connected to Western Catalonia and the Pyrenees, which host a large range of ski resorts, adventure sports opportunities, impressive...

  • Neymar was not able to score on Thursday against Atlético Madrid (by FC Barcelona)

    10.04.14 - 01:28

    Atlético Madrid vs FC Barcelona: Barça bid farewell to Champions League (1-0)

    An early Koke goal denied Barça the chance of a seventh successive semi final appearance. Barça’s dream of a Lisbon final came to an end at the Vicente Calderon tis Wednesday evening, when a combative Atletico Madrid beat them 1-0. The hosts’ early goal and their whirlwind start really set Barça back, but Martino’s side fought their way back into the game and had their chances to draw level. However,...